Better than yesterday

No words on the page, but six new scenes figured out. Which means I’ve about finished my coronary bypass around the the clogged artery of those bad center scenes where I took the story over the top.

Process is simple. Write one notecard for each scene that will replace a broken scene.

DO NOT REVISE THE BROKEN SCENE. Simply apply the patch of a one-sentence index card saying “This is what SHOULD be here,” in its place.

When all scenes have a bright pink SEP field* around them, you simply move on to write the next unwritten scene, as if all the preceding wrecked scenes had been written the way they needed to be, and were currently perfect.

Someone is thinking, “Why? Why? Why would you do this instead of fixing the scene and then moving on? Why?”

Simple reason. I only revise once, but I do one ferocious job of it when I do it. I think I know how my story will end now. But I might not. Things change. And I refuse to rework scenes that are going to have to be changed again when I discover than my ending has changed drastically. Creating index cards allows me to know I know what to do with those scenes when I get back to them. And if the ending changes, it allows me to rethink a thirty-word card, and not a 3000 word scene. Times ten.

That’s why.

Have about three scenes to go. Will get those tomorrow.

How did your writing go?

* Douglas Adams reference: “Somebody Else’s Problem”

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

37 comments… add one
  • Cecelia Westrich Oct 6, 2009 @ 23:00

    469 tonight and 636 yesterday. I know I’m moving but why do I feel like I’m standing still. I think it’s because I am trying to include an old scene that I wrote a long time ago in this new material. Some of what I wrote before sounds stilted and awkward. So I’m cutting parts out as I write and that is slowing me down. I’m still in the flashback. It is long. I hope not so long that I lose the momentum of the story. But that’s the trouble I have with flashbacks. I feel like they should not be long. Like I should be able to do backstory information without getting in too deeply. But then I feel like the story needs the fleshing out that a good flashback can provide. So I’ve decided just to write it. I can cut it later if need be. Do you get the idea that I don’t know what the heck I’m doing? I get that feeling a lot. But I feel better about it now that I am not just sitting and worring about it. I am actually getting it all down. You can’t work on something if you dont’ have anything to work on.

  • Gabby Oct 6, 2009 @ 22:44

    Anyone take HTTS course? I’m assuming the revision course will be similar. Is it something where you can download the lessons and keep them to review/return to over and over or you can only access the info via the website?
    Hopefully this link works: https://hollylisle.com/writingdiary2/index.php/2009/10/05/im-closing-how-to-think-sideways/#comment-36027

    I’d really like to make sure that I’m not dependent on the website being available to access the info.

    thanks for any insider info you can give me

    • Holly Lisle Oct 7, 2009 @ 0:46

      You can download everything.

      And I highly recommend for Think Sideways getting three 4″ binders and printing off the lessons and the techniques as you get them. (And yes, just the lessons and techniques will really fill all of three binders to bursting. I have my copy tabbed, and it sprawled into a fourth, smaller 2″ binder.

      • Gabby Oct 7, 2009 @ 13:44

        I can’t wait for the revision course. (very excited). Plus, it means I finished my project.

        So I forgot to post my word count from Tuesday: about 463 words. Life interfered.. but oh well. That was mostly from my lunch break too. I’m finding that I get better at typing in the few moments I have available and then all I can think about between those moments (and at work) is, “when will I get another chance? how much longer til my next break.” I’m seriously getting addicted to this whole thing.

  • Sandy Jensen Oct 6, 2009 @ 20:20

    About 300 words for me today. This book is a memoir, so-called creative non-fiction, but I am doing Sweet Spot maps and other good Muse-Friendly techniques.
    I got bogged down when I thought I had to do massive research on a charismatic leader from the 1930s, but as Muse explained to me as I was making butternut soup (with a red pepper mousse), in a memoir, I am only responsible for my piece of the story. I don’t have to provide a complete psychological portrait to stand for all time.

    That was a relief and a big ah-ha! moment.

    Even though I don’t have vast quantities of words on paper, just doing a few hundred a day keeps the wheels in my gray matter spinning for hours.

    I declare tomorrow HOLLY MAGIC DAY!

    • Holly Lisle Oct 7, 2009 @ 0:42

      Hmmm. Probably shouldn’t have played hooky on Holly Magic Day…

      Rats.

      Well, I’ll work my ass off tomorrow and write some words. Enough to put me over 50K for real. 😀 I’m a couple hundred short.

  • Rabia Oct 6, 2009 @ 14:34

    700-plus words last night.

  • Erin Kendall Oct 6, 2009 @ 12:20

    No words again, due to a severe migraine. 🙁 I feel much better today, so I’m going to try to get some words down.

    Cheers,
    Erin K.

  • Peggy Oct 6, 2009 @ 10:49

    683 yesterday (Monday) which fixed the 200 or so bad words from Sunday. Life is good.

    Today, one of the bad guys finds out he’s not the bad guy he thinks he is, and we meet the REALLY bad guy.

  • Lisa R Oct 6, 2009 @ 10:39

    756 words. It felt wonderful to sit down in the evening again and write. My MC found a secret passageway that is going to cause a lot of problems.

  • Kait Nolan Oct 6, 2009 @ 9:53

    I’ve been slacking on actually reporting my words. I had 3115 last week. Have been leading a big Novel Push Initiative and focusing on word count there. 501 last night.

  • June Oct 6, 2009 @ 9:32

    My turn to get the flu. Fun. So, not many new words on Monday, maybe 50 or so, but I did some more work on the Ciqueo scene and it’s getting closer to what I want. Hope this illness is of short duration. Probably won’t post again until I’m well.

  • Mark Oct 6, 2009 @ 9:06

    Finally made a breakthrough! I had guests over tonight, so I only go to write for a very short time (nowhere near enough). 391 words… but these words are the beginning of a sequence that will turn my book upside down. I’ve just taken a chunk of the third act and dumped it at the end of the first, and I can’t believe I didn’t see it before… It’s perfect! It opens up everything so much more and really gives me a chance to explore my MC’s journey in a different way… a better way.

    By the end of chapter, my MC should find a finger. Can’t wait. It will be torturous going to work tomorrow when I want to be home writing!

    Well, I’m off to bed!

  • Debora Oct 6, 2009 @ 8:45

    So I’m over 35K into my first draft, which I accomplished without the use of any plotcards. Writing like a seat-of-the-pantster, when I am usually anything but.

    Thought I’d hit a wall, but then I pulled out a notebook and started using some of Holly’s Think Sideways techniques, and lo and behold, within the space of about five minutes I had a cool new plot twist.

    What makes this really funny (or pathetic) to me is how faithfully I’ve been reading about what Holly’s been doing recently, without really thinking it through.

    Better late than never. It’s notebook and plotcard time for me. Got to do some planning. Nothing is wrecked. I’m generally very happy with the words I’ve gotten so far. And maybe I needed to just let my muse have her way — in the beginning.

    Hooray for thinking sideways!

  • Leah Oct 6, 2009 @ 7:47

    Almost 1400 words, more than I thought I’d write, but I wanted to get this chapter finished! It’s been a hard one.

  • Khena Oct 6, 2009 @ 7:45

    No words for two days. I’ve been stressing – well freaking – out about some health concerns, but I had another appointment yesterday, and things are not as bad as I feared. So hopefully I’ll be feeling better after a battery of physical therapy and be able to start writing again. Lower stress will help a lot though =)

    • Beverly Oct 6, 2009 @ 8:43

      Isn’t that the truth! If we could just get out bodies on the same pages as our plans wouldn’t life be perfect? 🙂

    • Holly Lisle Oct 7, 2009 @ 0:40

      I’m so glad your news was better than you expected.

  • Jessica Oct 6, 2009 @ 7:44

    170. I haven’t had much sleep lately and been doing a lot of physical work, so the cold has come back full fold. No idea how I’m going to make it through the work day let alone writing.

    • Holly Lisle Oct 7, 2009 @ 0:40

      Agh! Sorry about the cold. That does not make the work fun.

  • HannaBelle Oct 6, 2009 @ 7:41

    Can someone share with me a sample of a “scene sentence” that works? What elements do you want to be sure get onto the scene card or sentence?

    • Khena Oct 6, 2009 @ 8:01

      Holly has a workshop on her site here:
      https://hollylisle.com/fm/Workshops/notecard_plotting.html

      I haven’t taken HtTS yet (though I plan to), so this is my own little version, but here are some examples of what I use. Most are simple, just a vague idea of what is going to happen, but like the last one, are points I want to remember to bring up during the scene.

      An assassin attackts them whom they defeat, but they are confused by his appearence since the dragon council wouldn’t use such tactics.

      The group arrives at the shrine the green dragon indicated, only to find it was a trap.

      They speak to the dragon council brnging up several points: unprovoced attacks can constitute a declaration fo war, a war the dragons would lose; restoration of thier species; danger gone; they are helping at the freat personal risk; they may be restoring thier doom, they only have the dragons word they are peaceful to humans.

      • HannaBelle Oct 6, 2009 @ 14:12

        Thanks, this is very helpful.

  • Larkk Oct 6, 2009 @ 7:18

    1062 illuminating words, exploring the ins and outs of the culture. I’ve been banging away at this aspect for a while now, and am starting to get answers 🙂
    These are the kind of days I’m glad I sat down to write, even though I didn’t think anything useful would come of it!

  • Minze Oct 6, 2009 @ 5:56

    790 words today. I started going through my plot cards to see what was wrong. It was very easy: I found mistakes wherever I looked. In a weird way, it was fun, like hoovering a particularly dirty bit of carpet. You get a huge before/after contrast and a proper “ta-DAA!” effect. Knowing I’ll (probably) be able to get this thing under control again has made writing fun again. It’s like surfing. I’ve been knocked off my board but I’m climbing back on again, and a new set of waves is coming.

    Holly, if you’re reading this: if it wasn’t for the techniques I’m learning in HtTS, this is the point where I would stop writing this novel. Thank you. 🙂

    • Holly Lisle Oct 7, 2009 @ 0:39

      I’m so glad you’re getting through it. Writing ANY novel is definitely a process thing, and you end up developing a runner’s mind about getting through it.

      Save your strength, keep to a steady pace, breathe…and save something for the kick at the end. 😀

  • Dena C. Oct 6, 2009 @ 5:27

    957 words for me.

  • Ieva Oct 6, 2009 @ 5:08

    I didn’t write anything yesterday, so it’s a 3-day hiatus. Well, considering that I’m moving to a new apartment, it’s acceptable.
    Now, the writing begins though.

  • Greg Oct 6, 2009 @ 4:22

    I got 501 words on D&D, 1046 on OFL and 1038 on RFW, having started later than I intended, so that was pleasing.

  • Clare Oct 6, 2009 @ 4:10

    Joining in late.

    After working through the planning stages of the HTTS course (I’m a graduate), I started writing yesterday. Got 1,674 words over three writing bursts. That’s 1 and a half scenes. I’m not entirely happy with the words, but I never am entirely happy with openings. I’ll fix it in revision.

  • Joyce Oct 6, 2009 @ 3:34

    I’m back from a week of SUCK, precipitated by the death of one of our horses. Her death was quick and quiet. The process of deciding to euthanize her was anything but. I had no words for the past week. I played video games. I watched TV. I freaking stared into space.

    But with deadlines looming, I hit the keyboard hard today and wrote 2036 words for my next column. I have a backlog of work to get caught up on and less time than I would like. But I’m okay now. I’m ready to move ahead. And the words are waiting there for me.

    • Beverly Oct 6, 2009 @ 8:40

      Sympathy for your loss. Congrats on the column. Hope things start getting smoother.

  • Treelight Oct 6, 2009 @ 2:44

    I managed 265 word, which is okay. At last I refused to stop at some 140, which would be below the minimum count 😉

    Jheyrien has now a vague idea in which direction he should search for Cathrine.

  • KQ Oct 6, 2009 @ 1:52

    Back on track, with 2039 words. two scenes, and I actually killed a good guy. Kind of sad, but it’s raising tension. Feels good to be writing again!

  • Teri Oct 6, 2009 @ 1:32

    In spite of the distractions of unexpectedly hosting a board meeting for the hubby’s political party (I think they were supposed to be elsewhere, but it fell through) and the far greater distraction of the adorable, 6-month old, chocolate poodle who accompanied one of our guests, I got an amazing 418 words written.

    Taskh has accompanied the captain of the scouts back to the forward base, and they are in the process of convincing the company commander that something has to be done about the patrol in their way, before the patrol “stumbles” upon them.

  • Clare K. R. Miller Oct 6, 2009 @ 0:50

    Pretty good night–630 words. (You know, once you get those 500, another 100 or so isn’t so hard…) Preparations are underway. You know, things like eating dinner.

  • Patricia Oct 6, 2009 @ 0:34

    2,775 words today! Cough is wearing off a bit, and I am generally in a very good mood. Unfortunately, Ryan does not share my excitement.

    He had a run-in with his master’s eldest son, Growmr, who was just recently initiated as an adult, and he has gotten the attitude along with it. Ryan chased him off surprisingly easily, but then trouble appears in the form of a very hungry, very angry dragon. If not for Growmr, Ryan would have been quite a bit worse for wear than cold in the rain, but the young vampyre didn’t turn out so good. Now Ryan is forced to make a very difficult decision. Freedom- leaving the wounded vampyre to die, or help Growmr and bring him to the village, where enslavement awaits.

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