Using WordKeeper to Track Fiction Writing Progress

In keeping with my 2021 writing goals and my ramped up writing process, I’ve been using an iPhone app—WordKeeper—to measure my daily fiction writing progress.

You can enter different projects, such as short stories or novels. I’m in the early stages of working on novel number seven: plotting and outlining. My project page is below. WordKeeper displays my daily target word count based on the completion date I set. It shows daily progress as well as total progress toward my projected word count. It also provides stats about time, sessions, words, writing phases, and locations (which I don’t use). (Scroll down past the image for the rest of this post.)

WordKeeper Project

When I sit down at my laptop to write, the first thing I do is open WordKeeper and start the timer. Then I write for an hour or two, stopping the timer when I’m done. Last evening, I got home late from dinner and only got 50 minutes in.

WordKeeper Timer

WordKeeper then displays the Session page, showing my stats for that session: start and end times, any pauses I made, and the duration of the session. If I were writing, I would enter a word count. But right now, I’m still outlining.

WordKeeper Session

WordKeeper is helping me track my fiction writing progress so that I can be more productive.

When I get to the writing phase, hopefully in a week or two, I will start racking up the word count. WordKeeper will keep me on track to meet my deadline.

I like WordKeeper. It’s easy to use and has more features than I have time to explore. It’s $2.99 a month—the cost of a cup of coffee.

If you’re looking to track your fiction writing progress and productivity, you can learn more at https://wordkeeper.app/.

Ramping Up My Writing Process

Productivity ChainA few weeks ago, I posted my 2021 writing goals. Toward that end, I’m ramping up my writing process. Here’s the well-greased chain I’m shooting for to increase my fiction-writing productivity:

Ideation > Brainstorming > Plotting > Outlining > Drafting > Editing > Marketing

Ideation: This is generating a story idea. I do this purposely several times a week on Twitter. For example:

You open the front door to get the mail. In the mailbox is a severed hand. Who put it there and why. How do you find out?

Brainstorming: Great idea. (I’ll write it someday.) But it needs a little—okay, a lot—of work. Here’s where I go through a process of answering questions about my character and his or her goals. I do a lot of work before I tackle structure. After all, I need events and motivation to plot.

Plotting: I develop character arcs for all my major characters and conform the brainstormed material into classic story structure. More at How to Write Stories that Sell.

Outlining: Here, I sort the information into a sequential scene-by-scene list from which I’ll write. I like my ducks in a row so that when I plant my butt in the chair, I can write without interruption.

Drafting: Using my outline, I write from beginning to end, incorporating all the information from my brainstorming, plotting, and outlining. I use Scrivener to build my manuscripts.

Editing: After one or more days, I’ll print the draft and edit it, making sure all the necessary information is in place and that I’m using the best language to tell a story. I go through at least five drafts before I consider the story ready for the reading public.

Marketing: I now have everything beta read. (If you’re a published writer and are willing to beta-read my fiction, contact me.) After final changes, I submit it to markets. If I don’t place a work after a while, I publish it myself.

This is my process, and I hope to perfect it this year so that I’m regularly churning out story after story, novel after novel. Expect to see more published this year. If learning about my process has been helpful to you, please leave a comment. I’d like to know your process, too.

Building Your Horrific Monster

What makes for an effective monster in a horror story? Noel Carroll in his dissertation, The Philosophy of Horror (Routledge, 1990), asserts that a proper monster must be both threatening and impure.

Broader scopes of fiction seek to induce fear in the reader. But Carroll states:Philosophy of Horror by Noel Carroll

…[T]he character’s emotional reaction to the monstrous in horror stories is not merely a matter of fear…. Rather, threat is compounded with revulsion, nausea, and disgust. …[T]he tendency in horror novels and stories [is] to describe monsters in terms of and to associate them with filth, decay, deterioration, slime, and so on. … The monster is not only lethal, but also disgusting. (p. 22)

Is Your Monster Threatening?

The monster in horror fiction must be threatening—physically, psychologically, socially, morally, spiritually—or all of the above. It must be able to hurt your body, your mind, your relationships, your conscience, or your soul.

If you’re working on a story of your own, consider the following exercises, helpful in the planning stage.

Build Your Threatening Monster

Describe how your monster is threatening to your characters in one of more of the following ways:

  • Physically
  • Psychologically
  • Socially
  • Morally
  • Spiritually

Is Your Monster Impure?

MonsterThe horror monster must also be impure. What do we consider impure? Anything that “violates the generally accepted schemes of cultural categorization.” We consider impure that which is categorically contradictory, such as:

  • The categorically ambiguous: amphibians (they both swim and hop, can exist both in water and out of water)
  • Incomplete representatives of their class: rotting things, things not fully formed, things with parts missing (think Invasion of the Body Snatchers)
  • Formless things: dirt, blobs, fog

More Carroll categories of the categorically contradictory (what a horrific tongue twister!) include:

  • Fusion: Disparate entities fused into one stable being. Example: The spider-like erector-set creature with the bald, one-eyed doll’s head in Toy Story.
  • Fission: Disparate entities that change into and back from something horrible at different times (or a multiple figure being whose identities are opposite). Example: Werewolves and other shape-shifters. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  • Magnification: Enlargement. Example: Giant people, giant sharks (Jaws), giant animals.
  • Massification: Hordes. Unnaturally large numbers of something dangerous or relatively harmless. Example: Jellyfish in the movie Sphere. Birds. Rats. Locusts. Snakes. Spiders in Arachnophobia. Zombies. Vampires in I Am Legend.
  • Metonymy: Something not revolting in itself associated with things that are. Example: The rats and wolves that attend Dracula.

Build Your Impure Monster

Describe how your monster is impure in one or more of the following ways:

  • Categorically ambiguous
  • An incomplete representation of its class
  • Formless

List and describe how you could use any of the following techniques to besmirch your monster:

  • Fusion (disparate entities fused into one stable being)
  • Fission (disparate entities that change at different times, or a multiple figure being whose identities are opposite)
  • Magnification (enlargement)
  • Massification (hordes of something dangerous or relatively harmless)
  • Metonymy (something not revolting in itself associated with things that are)

Fire Up the Tesla Coils!

To give life to your horrific monster, you must build it from the right parts. Your monster must be regarded as BOTH: 1) threatening, and 2) impure.

If it is only threatening, then the emotion is fear. If it is only impure, the emotion is disgust. But, if both, the emotion is horror! (p. 28)

We’ll talk more about the philosophy horror in future posts. You’ve been warned…


Ferreting Out Filter Words

“Psychic Development for Writers” Available on CD

Psychic Development for WritersDo you want to develop your psychic skills to write better fiction?

In this 47-minute live audio recording presented at Seton Hill University’s 2012 In Your Write Mind writer’s workshop, writer and medium Lee Allen Howard teaches about psychic development for fiction writers. From the presentation:

Inspiration comes from the same source as psychic information, and delivers creative information along the same channel. By learning to open your psychic channel, you become better able to receive inspiration and channel creative information that makes fiction work. In short: If you widen the psychic channel, you’ll get better ideas.

To receive this information, you must:
1. Connect to higher sources.
2. Bring that information into your waking consciousness.

You’ll learn how to do this with actual development exercises.

What People Are Saying about “Psychic Development for Writers”

Lee Allen Howard’s “Psychic Development” gave me insight into how my creativity works, as well as working out a “stuck spot” in my manuscript through his guided meditation. It works! —Meg Mims, author of Double Crossing

This dynamic and thought-provoking workshop by Lee Allen Howard is accessible to anyone, regardless of his or her spiritual path. Lee’s presentation is clear and straightforward, and the guided exercise at the conclusion is worth multiple revisits. Highly recommended! —Chris Stout, author of Days of Reckoning

What You’ll Receive

  • CD of the live audio presentation of “Psychic Development for Writers” (tracks split per slide), including the psychic development exercises that you can use at home
  • Session handouts that include slides, psychic development exercises, an article about gifts vs. skill, and a bibliography.

CD with handouts are $15, which includes shipping to locations in the continental US. To order, click the following link:

To widen your psychic channel for better fiction,
order “Psychic Development for Writers” today.
Buy Now from PayPal


Inspiration from Higher Sources

Channeling My Muse

On June 24 last year I spoke at Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction In Your Write Mind alumni retreat on the topic, “Alternative Methods of Idea and Story Generation.” I talked about being open to receiving story ideas and writing assistance from higher consciousness.

Open ChannelI also work as a Spiritualist medium. My metaphysical musings are posted on my other blog, Building the Bridge, which you might want to subscribe to. I’ve channeled through writing since 1989. (Channeling means to open yourself spiritually to communicate the thoughts and voice of discarnate intelligences.)

Here’s something my guides spoke to me the other night concerning my fiction writing. I was concerned that the idea I was working on was too big to handle, something beyond my abilities. They told me to take it one step at a time. (I know, not really profound, but I found it comforting.)

As we continue to prompt you concerning your writing endeavors, continue and be faithful to respond, and we will lead you to the next step. Do not fear that you cannot construct a masterpiece quickly in one sitting. These things take time. Be faithful to follow the process, and you will see your productivity increase, and you will grow to become more prolific.

Fear not about the future, for we have a design and a plan laid out for you. If you will but follow and yield yourself to the gifts we have placed within you, they will make a way even before kings. Step by step, day by day, follow the way, and we will lead you onward.

If you feel called to write, I hope you also will find this encouraging.

As always, feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

E-pubber Advice: Review on Your E-reader

When you’re an independent author or self-publisher, you get to wear all the hats and do all the work, so any advantage is a plus. Here’s a terrific tip to help polish your work for e-readers.

You’re in Charge

I’m a big believer in self-editing. Even if you submit your work to a traditional publisher, you can’t count on a quality in-house edit. So it’s up to you.

Reformat for a Fresh Perspective

I write my manuscripts using Microsoft Word with a template I’ve devised especially for fiction, but I do most of my editing on paper. When I get to the point where I’m ready to publish my work (or submit it to an editor), I import my manuscript to Adobe FrameMaker to format it like an actual book. Then I print it again and do another edit.

It’s amazing how changing the format will help you spot improvements to make that you didn’t catch previously.

You don’t need to import your work to another program to take advantage of this trick. Simply make a copy of your manuscript file and either attach another template with different formats, or select all the text and change the font.

E-format for a Fresher Perspective

Now that I’m publishing for e-readers, in addition to reformatting my printouts for editing, I now send my final manuscripts to my Kindle for a last edit. I urge you to do this if you want to give your work the ultimate spit-polish.
Kindle E-reader

You can send a Word file to your Kindle email account, but the file converted and sent to your device may still look like a manuscript, and you don’t want that. I recommend converting your manuscript to a MOBI file (or EPUB for Nook) using a conversion program such as Calibre.

I save my Word manuscript as Filtered HTML, drop the HTML file into Calibre, and then convert it to MOBI. I send the MOBI file to my Kindle email address and then sync my device to download it.

E-dit on Your Device

On my Kindle, I review the manuscript one final time. I’m always surprised at what I find. Things I’ve read a dozen times on paper suddenly stick out like a sore prehensile digit. The need for shorter paragraphs becomes evident.

I use the notes feature to make comments and corrections. When I’m finished, I copy the MyClippings.txt file from my device to my PC and then consult the entries there to search my Word manuscript file, where I make the final corrections.

As I said previously, I urge you to try this out and see what a difference it makes in your published e-books. It’s a step you won’t regret.

If you found this article helpful, please share it with others. And if you have any questions or tips of your own along this line, please leave a comment. Happy e-diting!