Book Breakdown: POINT OF FATE: BOOK 2 OF THE GAIRDEN CHRONICLES, Draft 3 (!)Image Not Found.
Welcome to another book breakdown, a blog in which I discuss the process of writing a particular draft of one of my books, give an overview of content, and share nerdy statistics like page and word counts.
This book breakdown centers on POINT OF FATE, the sequel to HERITAGE, my fantasy novel for young adults released two years ago as of this past Sunday, July 31. What's taken so long? I'll attempt to answer that, and shine a light on how the book is coming and when it should be released.
I had the central idea for the HERITAGE novels (a talking sword that contains the spirits of a royal bloodline) in 2004. In the fall of 2005, I took a fiction-writing course that required students to turn in three short stories or three chapters for a novel-in-progress as assignments over the semester. Since I had no other ideas, I decided to start HERITAGE.
I had so much fun writing those three chapters that I just kept going. I finished the first draft over three feverish months. Several grades slipped as I devoted more time and energy to HERITAGE, but, hey, I wrote my first novel! What's a C-average compared to the satisfaction of holding a manuscript that cost way too much for a poor college student to print at Kinko's (so he printed it for free in the campus computer lab)?
Letting HERITAGE marinate in its own filth—the sort of filth unique to first drafts—I dove into POINT OF FATE. It was similarly filthy. Life circumstances, namely moving to California to begin my long and prosperous career as a freelance (depending on the month), only afforded me time to edit it once, long before making sweeping changes to HERITAGE.
Then I rewrote and sold HERITAGE to Tyche Books in 2013. That rewrite was substantial. I bulldozed the house and razed the foundation: new magic system, religions, races, cultures, character adjustments—you name it. Naturally, all those changes sent ripples through POINT OF FATE. They were less ripples and more like 7.9 earthquakes hot on the heels of an 8.0.
Thus, draft 3.
Margaret Curelas, my editor at Tyche, accepted HERITAGE for publication in July 2013. It was published one year later. I should have spent that time working on it. In fact, Tyche wanted it ready to go for 2015. I told them I needed a breather; I'd eaten, lived, slept, and breathed HERITAGE (and STAY AWHILE FOR LISTEN) for years by that point, and needed a little distance before submerging myself in Aidan's world yet again.
Margaret was amenable, and we settled on a summer 2016 release date for HERITAGE. I was supposed to turn in the manuscript in October 2015, giving us plenty of time to go back and forth on revisions, square away cover art, and all that fun stuff.
Due to personal reasons, mostly business with writing work that paid the bills and a very real desire to take a longer break from HERITAGE and SAAL, I didn't begin revising POINT OF FATE until last June—the first of June, to be exact.
I knew going in that I wouldn't be able to finish such a comprehensive rewrite in four months. I'd need time to revise my revisions, let alone finish the first round. October came and went. Margaret graciously extended my deadline.
And look, let's not pretend Tyche Books lives and dies by my work. It doesn't. That company is doing super well thanks to a growing roster of other talented writers! Still, I felt terrible. I consider Margaret a friend, and I didn't want her to get the idea I was slacking off.
So, I started in on POINT on June 1, 2015. I didn't work off the previous draft. It wouldn't have been worthwhile; the changes were that substantial. Remember, this was less "I think I'll repaint the living room" and more "This living room is terrible; let's blow up the house and move halfway around the world and live in a geodesic dome."
I finished my rewrite on June 1... of this year. Yep. One solid year of writing. I had to juggle POINT along with one other book project, BREAK OUT, plus freelance tasks—because, again, writers need electricity to write. I wrote between 5k-10k words in POINT OF FATE and BREAK OUT a week. For the first 6 of the 12 months of my work on POINT, I wrote 6 days a week. Burn out crept in; after Christmas, I dropped down to 5 days a week, but still hit between 5k-10k.
Margaret pitched handing in a clean-ish draft in July. I agreed. As usual, I was naïve and optimistic bordering on stupid. I planned on staying (far, far) away from the book until July 1, and then proofreading and editing like mad. I was bound and determined to hand that book in at 1159 pm on July 31 if I had to.
I just started editing this month. After 12 months of work, I needed more than one month's rest. I'm feeling good, though, and excited about revisions. They're moving quickly, much faster than they would have had I pushed myself to jump back into that pool before I was ready to swim again.
When will it be ready? Probably summer 2017. That's looking very likely. I should only need 2-3 months to finish these revisions, and Margaret had mentioned not being able to get around to editing POINT until this fall anyway. Again, she's got other writers besides me to coddle! So, really, we're not too far off track.
(Unless you count the fact that I was supposed to have this thing done and published a year ago. Which I do not.)
If I've failed to mention it before now, certain structural changes have caused Gairden Chronicles to expand from a two-book series to a trilogy. This strikes me as amusing: I'd pitched it to Margaret years ago as a trilogy; she thought it worked better as a duology, so I made the change.
I wrote so much last year—because that's what fantasy authors do—that I realized POINT OF FATE was shaping up to be an 880+ page doorstop. Margaret got nervous, and I don't blame her. She's got to foot the bill for printing, after all. So we decided to revert back to a trilogy. I've got a cool name for Book 3, but I'm going to sit on it for now.
Bottom line: POINT OF FATE won't be the last book in Gairden Chronicles. Far from it.
Without spoiling any big plot twists, I thought it only fair to tease what Aidan and his friends and family are up to in POINT OF FATE.
Aidan is on his way to Darinia to convince Nichel to repair the broken alliance between Darinia and Torel. Nichel's got problems of her own. She's the war chief of the Darinian clans, and is fighting to keep an ancient magic from taking control of her body and soul.
Edmund is still grieving the loss of Annalyn, naturally. He travel east to Leaston to recruit the merchant's guild and their militia to fight in the war against Tyrnen. His grief causes him to take unnecessary risks, and before you know it, he and a new ally have to team up to escape Leaston from a pack of vagrants led by a familiar-looking harbinger.
Daniel is one of very few Wardsmen remaining in Calewind and working to fortify it ahead of an attack by a huge swarm of vagrants camped outside the city walls. And who should be leading that undead army but Garrett, Christine's crazed brother and the man responsible for capturing and thrashing Daniel to within an inch of his life in HERITAGE? Daniel also gets help from a new character.
Finally, Christine travels to the Temple of Dawn to speak with her father, Ernest Lorden, First of the Touched—the ranking leader of Touched in Tyrnen's absence—to convince him to align the Touched with Aidan against Tyrnen. One thing leads to another, and Christine finds herself back at the Territory Bridge, the internment camp where her fellow Sallnerians live under the yoke of zealots within the Temple of Dawn. It so happens that some of her childhood friends have been sitting on a huge secret, and they want Christine to lead them against the Temple of Dawn and onward to freedom.
Oh! Numbers! Honestly, as of right this minute, I do not know how many words or pages I've written. I don't keep track of that stuff while writing because, frankly, it's not that important. One foot in front of the other, one word in front of the other—that's my MO.
So, let's find out together, shall we?
Chapter count: 68
Chapter titles: No titles yet. I hate naming things, so I leave chapter subtitles for later.
Word count: 221,360
Page count: 761*
* To arrive at these numbers, I imported all 68 chapter files (news to me!) into Microsoft Word using the program's Insert -> Object -> From text file option. That does not add page breaks, meaning there are as many page breaks as there are chapters. Therefore, my final page count is closer to 829 or so.
I'd like to put that number into even clearer perspective. Not only did I write ~829 pages and 221k words for POINT last year, I wrote 832 pages and 281k words for draft 1 of BREAK OUT, plus words for freelance clients and my Episodic Content blog where I serialize stories about game development and culture.
MAKING FUN, my next game development book, due out in September, collects stories from my first year of Episodic Content, plus articles I wrote for freelance clients. It's roughly 600 pages.
That means in the past 12-13 months alone, I have written 2261 pages between BREAK OUT, POINT OF FATE, and MAKING FUN, on top of other freelance work.
I don't point this out as a bid for sympathy, or to brag, or to give the impression that I prioritize quantity over quality. My first drafts are always huge, and I trim them down to lean, mean, fun-to-read machines, if I do say so myself. No, I point it out because I've been beating myself up for letting POINT OF FATE and SAAL 2 get so far off track.
Sometimes I need a reminder that in spite of what's gone wrong, I do work hard, I am growing as a writer, and I shouldn't be so tough on myself.
I leave you with a promise: POINT OF FATE is shaping up very well. It will be worth the wait. If you'd be so kind as to give me your promise that you'll pick it up 11-12 months from now, I'd be eternally grateful.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I need a nap.
Thanks for reading,