Numbers don’t lie. I lie. I lie a lot. But generally speaking, you can always count on numbers to tell you the truth. And when you’re working on the zero draft of a new novel, those numbers can tell you how far you’ve come and how far you still need to go. More than that, there are statistics I just made up that say: if you pass this point, you are likely to finish this novel. As someone who starts and abandons ideas like a child browsing a toy store, reaching the inflection point in the zero draft is HUGE, not just to my confidence in the story, but in my general enjoyment of the process.
The Cold Hard Stats
As my good friend Forrest once related to me in a flashback: if you want something enough, you’ll find a way. That has been the theme of the last month as COVID, the election, and full-time work have threatened to distract me from the one thing I truly want: to write an homage to House on Haunted Hill, Murder by Death, and Clue and have it ready to publish by Halloween 2021. That is the goal, and if it means I can’t spend my evenings finally finishing The Last of Us II or catching up on episodes of The Mandalorian, then so be it.
Here’s where the WIP stands after a month of eschewing fun and sleep, according to Novlr:
My novels always start with the same targets for chapter and word counts, which makes it easy to see how far along the zero draft is. In the above graphic, Novlr is counting a short prologue, which doesn’t figure into my targets.
That puts progress at:
- Chapters: 17 of 60 (28.3%)
- Words: 39,297 of 120,000 (32.7%)
- Showers Taken: 6 of 60 (10%)
Words are tracking higher than chapters thanks to overwriting. Chapters are coming in 300 words over their targets of 2,000 on average. That’s good. Plenty to cut during the rewrite. The characters still aren’t taking enough showers, but there’s still plenty of time to fix that.
It’s hard to overstate how much I enjoy writing, especially once the characters have been established and their personalities are starting to show through. I had no idea who these people were when this all began, and here they are now, sitting around a dinner table, arguing the merits of superpowers. I’m a big believer that if you build enough momentum, the story starts to unfold on its own.
The trick is finding a way to stick with the story until that happens.
A Little Canva Time Never Hurt Anyone
Although I shy away from creating mock covers for WIPs these days, I do tend to spend a lot of time in Canva making character cards and random things to help keep me inspired.
The Guest List
I love seeing all these names together like this. There are some familiar Vinestead Anthology folks there like Lucas Cotton and Wade Vunak, along with others like Elias Shaw and Carter Price who have shown up before but didn’t have much screen time. Mostly, I’m excited about the new faces.
The aftermath of Brigham Plaza has me questioning whether including old characters (who new readers might not be familiar with) was a good idea or not. For this WIP, none of the primary POV characters have starred in a previous book, and given the nature of this “bottle episode” story, the reader shouldn’t need to know too much about what came before. They only need to know previous events if they’re important to the story, and if they’re important to the story, I’ll explain them.
Things are going well, I’m excited about the story, and I’m enjoying the late nights spent writing, drinking, and listening to thunderstorms. If you love erotic dystopian cyber-thriller murder mysteries, then I think you’re really gonna dig this book.
By the way, I have a rarely updated mailing list where I tell people about new releases and special pricing on all the Vinestead Anthology books. If that’s something you’d be interested in hearing about, you can sign up here: tinyletter.com/danielverastiqui