Back to Words: The Dead Man’s Party Revision

By Holly Lisle

The last few days have been wordless because of the ongoing chaos, which still has to get a lot worse before it can start getting better.

Today, though, I managed to write Chapter 9 — 1956 words. Again because this is still inside the first twelve chapters where I had not yet figured out the story I was telling or where and when it took place, these were all brand-new words, and from the POV of Laurie, the brand-new character who picks up a part of the story I needed but mostly missed in the first draft — that of the Caravan Volunteer.

I like her. She’s too young for the job she’s taken, but she’s tougher than her years. And she’s going to be a very cool secondary hero.

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved


Dead Man’s Party – Cali on the day after

By Holly Lisle

Still all new words in the type-in revision. Today was a brand-new Chapter Eight.

Five, Six, and Seven were three different takes on the same event — the point where things go from “wow, that was pretty bad” to “okay, the world has now officially fallen apart.”

Chapter Eight brings in the character who WAS my primary protagonist in the first version, now named Cali (folks who have taken How to Write a Novel will know her as Amanda).

Today, I got to play around inside her head a little, to see how she’s been coping after the Fall, and to see how she’s planning on dealing with the novel’s Big Bad (nod to Joss Whedon for the term).

I like what I got.

Personal stuff is still chaotic.

The only way out is through. So I’m head down, pushing through.

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved


DMP Revision — Friday, and I’m running long… by an estimated 30,000 words [FRIDAY SNIPPET]

By Holly Lisle

I knew this would happen.

The raw first draft of the novel was 50,718 words in length.

I figured during my read through revision that I’d add 10,000 words (because in revision, I always end up adding words — my first drafts are thin).

So I thought, Hey, I’ll shoot for 60,000, but I’ll give myself a little extra elbow room on this one, just because.

So I set my top limit plan at 70,000 words.

As of today, if I continue as I’m going, the novel is going come in at 81,000 words.

Eighty. One. Thousand.

My line-for-scenes build-out gave me 34 chapters, same as the raw first draft.

But this time I know what’s going on from the very beginning, I know the world I’m writing in, and a lot has to happen in each chapter to get me where I’m going.

I’m contemplating eliminating the three POV scenes for the villain — but that’s still on the table. If I don’t show him from his own POV, it’s going to be significantly tougher for readers to understand WHY he’s doing what he’s doing.

Word count for today: 254 words. It meets my one-chapter-per-day revision schedule.

Those 254 words comprise one full scene from my villain’s POV. It’s my compromise for now. I’ll do the villain POV scenes, but keep them short, tight, focused on his actions.

When this goes out to my bug-hunters, I’ll get feedback on him, and work from there.

 

FRIDAY SNIPPET (this is my current opening to the novel).

[The Snippet Disclaimer: This is raw first draft, Copyright Holly Lisle and All Rights Reserved. Do not quote, review, or bug hunt. The contents of this snippet are subject to change, and during revision I will not see any problems you find here.]

 

In the beginning, there was the Hero. And the Hero moved Heaven and Earth to create a place of Joy and Excitement, a retreat from the Suffering and Toil of Humanity. And the Hero declared that access to this Second World beneath the World — this glorious Underworld — should be made a human right given regardless of race, color, creed, or ability to pay to every human being on the planet.

And so it was done, and all of Humankind rejoiced.

Introduction to The History of The Underworld: The Authorized Edition, by Nathan Ardement

 

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Dead Man’s Party Revision – Thursday – 2040 words to the gritty, mean truth

By Holly Lisle

A book with the title Dead Man’s Party is going to have some dark spots, obviously.

It can’t all be PARTY, can it?

Well, today I hit the place where my MC, now named Matt Stark, hit the one-year anniversary of the Fall of the Underworld. And the guy who owned the Underworld apparently has been carrying a grudge.

Today, he punched back.

While I kept writing and deleting, writing and deleting, what I finally ended up with is, I think, a good chapter.

It is however, a dark, mean, pointy chapter.

I’m still on target — one chapter revised to completion per day, thirty-six planned working days to complete the type-in revision. I’m planning to take weekends and some known upcoming Chaos Days off to maintain my health as I go through this.

I’ll note that as with every other day this week, today’s revision was 100% new words. Through Chapter 12, I’m expecting that.

But so far this week, I’ve written over 9600 new words. And I still have tomorrow’s 2000-ish to add to the count.

I’m now tired WITH a headache. So I’m going to do the rest of todays bullet journal list, and then go lie down.

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved


Dead Man’s Party Revision – Wednesday, and the NEW character arrives.

By Holly Lisle

Today, just like Monday and yesterday, was 100% new words. 2115 of them at final count, probably about twice that many that I actually wrote to get the ones I kept.

Everything I wrote today required new settings, new names, a completely different starting point — every single word was brand new.

So what makes this a revision, rather than a different first draft?

The fact that this time through, I know exactly where I’m going and why, what I have to accomplish with each chapter to get it to the end that I know is coming, and what each scene has to do.

I have my provisional outline, the weight of an entire first draft and entire write-in revision and the brutal crucible of the week spent in the Monastery building my focus outline.

All the crud fell away from the story when I did that, and what I’m writing now is stronger. Better.

Still going to have to have a deep edit by Matt, still going to have to be bug-hunted by my bug hunters.

But… even though every word is new, this is pure final revision, and I’ve been here before with other books.

So…

Today, my Goddess of the Underworld had help from the new secondary character I realized during revision I was going to have to bring in to show the world through the eyes of a normal human being who had been one of those most harmed by the world before the Apocalypse.

I ended up writing about twice as many words as I kept. Had to keep tossing out the “As you know, Bobs” that tried to creep in.

But it was a good writing day. 

Now onto the next stuff.

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved


DMP Revision Tuesday – 3038 new words, brand-new second chapter started and finished

By Holly Lisle

Today was another good writing day. 

100% new material, but it flew because in this revision, the whole thing is now growing out of everything I discovered in the read-through and write-in revisions of the first draft. 

Added a couple hundred words to yesterday’s chapter, but everything I wrote yesterday still worked this morning.

Everything else was the start to finish of Chapter 2.

My Line-for-Scene outline is holding together. My characters are stepping up, doing more in this version than they did in the first one. They’re deeper, have more going on, have actual pasts.

And this version of the story is starting darker, meaner. I think this is happening because now I know what brought all of them to this point… and because I’m starting at the exact right point, in the instant before “the way things are now” collapses and all hell breaks loose.

This is a post-apocalypse in which the folks in the middle of it don’t yet realize that the Apocalypse has come. That’s the second shoe.

Right now, only the first shoe has dropped.

And this time through, the story means more to me. It’s scarier, closer to the bone — because this time, I know how it ends, and I know what has to happen before it gets there. This time, there’s no writing into the dark, no guessing.

This time, I already know how dark the darkness is going to get.

Things happen in ways that I don’t expect, but they’re pieces of a puzzle I’ve already seen.

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved


Dead Man’s Party — The Write-In Revision is done.

By Holly Lisle

Have been working on the read-through/write-in revision of Dead Man’s Party for the past month or so. Finished it today after a four-hour hard push.

So the next step, which starts tomorrow, is to build the color-coded index card line-for-scene, which is my PLAN for FIXING IT.20190729 dead mans party revision on to step three REPLOT600X800

That should anywhere between a day or two and a full week of heavy lifting.

Since I couldn’t find any of my favorite index cards, I’m improvising with some plain white ones that I had in a neat little Oxford ring binder, and color tabs I located in one of my “Office Supply” drawers that I’ll stick on the right edge.

These colored tabs* indicate :

  • GREEN: No changes or small changes — Up to 24% of the scene needs to change
  • YELLOW: Moderate changes — 25% to 49% of the scene needs to change
  • ORANGE: Big changes — 50% to 74% of the scene needs to change
  • RED: BRUTAL OVERHAUL — 75% change up to toss scene, write something completely new.

I might have two or three green cards.

I already know I have three or four red cards.

In between, I’m going to be living in the yellow-to-orange zone, and I’m betting I’m going to end up with MORE orange.

I’ll show you the card outline when I get it built, and give you the actual Scene Count and Damage Report. Being realistic rather than hopeful, it will probably take me the rest of the week to get this done, and MAY run over. I’m out of practice, and this is a process that gets easier the more often and more FREQUENTLY you do it.

Maybe the Inspiration Fairy will land on my head and hit me with its vicious little mallet. If that happens, this will go faster.

BUT…

The thing you want to avoid at all costs during your revision read-through and write-in is to make the discovery — after your first draft has cooled off — that the novel is nothing you want to finish: that you don’t care about the people, the conflict, the world, the twists.

And that didn’t happen.

Even in the midst of the wreckage I love this. Love it much more than I thought I would. Revising it is going to be a big, hard, dirty job. But it’s SO going to be worth it.

And this is the ONLY thing I’m going to be working on (excluding the necessary stuff of paying bills, answering emails, spending time on the forums, and dealing with the nearing Big Chaos).

This gets half or more of every workday until both the revision replot and the final type-in are done.

This part can take a long damn time. Or it can go quickly. And I am a lousy judge of which way any particular revision is going to fall.

I just know, though, that I’m going to love doing this one.


*The colored index card process is part of How to Revise Your Novel.

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved


The DMP Revision, and the WRONG End of the String – Family and Brain Surgery

By Holly Lisle

The string in the title is CHAOS, and in the little image on my blog, we are currently not in the neat and spiffy central spiral, but in the dark tangle out at the end.

I’ll start with the happier stuff. Today was Revision Monday, and I got just over half of the remainder of the write-in revision of Dead Man’s Party finished. Seventy-six pages revised and noted. Only seventy manuscript pages remain, and my hope is to be able to finish that on my next Revision Monday, whenever that might be.

The type-in revision is going to be a bitch, but I discovered that the stuff I wrote for the character who is going to be eliminated in the final version is actually excellent, contains very good conflict plus active worldbuilding for the story world, set in the near and deadly future, and can be given to the new male lead in the new version as the first couple of chapters of the novel.

The other news is more chaos, but not the good and happy chaos we’ve been in for the last couple of months. 

My brother-in-law is back in the hospital following seizures, and has discovered that the parts of the brain tumor that his previous doctor couldn’t get out some years ago because they were attached to the brainstem have grown in the interim. Are now causing weakness in his extremities, seizures, some other not-good things.

On the bright side, brain surgery has improved a lot in the last half a decade. On the dark side, it’s still brain surgery.

SO… He has big brain surgery pending. This is not a little deal. It’s currently planned for Thursday, but that might change. So the next couple of weeks might have me gone a lot. 

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved


DMP Revision Monday, and Not Too Early for the Halloween Listener Episode

By Holly Lisle

I did four hours of work on Dead Man’s Party yesterday.

I got one page of manuscript done.

HOWEVER, I finally got the chance to do the thing I used to do first — world building.

I got six closely written pages of worldbuilding done, in which I figured out (this is AFTER having written the whole first draft of the novel) how my hero works.

Why would I do worldbuilding after writing the whole first novel and being well into revision? Because by working with an incredibly light concept in first draft, I allowed myself to find the story I really wanted to tell — and it took me twelve chapters to find that world. They were chapters in which I got to know the characters, and in a couple of cases didn’t. They were chapters in which I found the real conflict, for which I only had a vague concept when I started.

It’s a funny way to work for me, but it saved me a helluva lot of time getting started, it allowed me to finish, and it kept me from having a notebook full of stuff I won’t use… because I thought I was building an entirely different world than the one I wrote.

Here’s an example:

In the earlier part of revision, I discovered that the guy I wrote as my hero was a complete non-character, while the guy who wasn’t even supposed to be there became not just a great character, but a guy I really loved.

Here’s another example:

I discovered twelve chapters into first draft that I needed to move the story from Year Ten back to Year Two, because if I didn’t, one of the characters (the one who I’ve now removed) would have been dumber that a bag of bricks.

I LOVE what I got yesterday. It doesn’t count as words — what I built will have to be used during type-in revision — new stuff that will replace things I’m ripping completely out. But what I discovered gives me the conflict for the first part of the book where I have to completely redo the places where the story is set, and bring in the Post-Apocalypse that I discovered twelve chapters in had happened just two years earlier, not ten.

And now, for something completely different…

WRITERS: The AIARWIP.com Halloween Episode is COMING!!!

Last year in our FIRST Halloween episode, my daughter Rebecca, my son Mark, and I all read (and sort of dramatized) 500-word short fiction written by podcast listeners. We are going to do it again.

Which means you can submit ONE 500-word story you’ve written to us at the podcast — more details on that when we’re actually ready to start accepting.

But it means you have to know how to write 500-word stories. PLOTTED 500-word stories. Not slice-of-life, not mood pieces, not and-then-they-all-died.

Real stories. If you have not every learned how to do this, How to Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t SUCK is my free writing class — and to understand what I mean by REAL stories, listen to the stories last year that won.

Our First AIARWIP Halloween Listener Edition is here. We will only accept one story submission per writer, but to get your best story, you generally need to write a batch of them. Which the class is set up to help you do. By the time you finish, you’ll have written eleven stories.

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved


Dead Man’s Party revision — Three more chapters

By Holly Lisle

I got three more chapters and change finished on the read-and-annotate part of the revision before I had to move on to other things. Had a late start, but managed solid work and some good re-thinknig of early middle of the book before the fine edge of chaos wedged its way into my day.

So now I’m heading into the list of things that I have to do that don’t require deep though or creativity, because any sort of thinking that can’t be guided by a checklist is going to be beyond my reach for the rest of the day.

Contents © Holly Lisle. https://hollylisle.com All Rights Reserved