Happy dance… Got good words in a mean scene

By Holly Lisle

Today was about big, bad things coming at my MC… and about her knowing they were coming, and getting ready to walk out to face them unarmed to save a dear friend…

And about how being someone who shows up when others need help can sometimes pay off when YOU need help…

And it went well.

To say the least.

I was up at at the desk just after seven AM, and now, just after ten AM, I discovered that I wrote 2555 words (way more than my 1250-word/day objective), and I now have 38,865 total written on Book 4, and I love the way this novel is coming together.

 


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Got words. Was a Mean Girl. My main character is, therefore, having a really horrible day.

By Holly Lisle

I got 1363 words (putting me at 37,578), and I love them all, but my poor main character is watching the world fall apart around here while someone she loves is in the middle of horror and hell.

More tomorrow.


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Today, 1983 words and a scene WAY out of order… (and yesterday…)

By Holly Lisle

Ran out of time to blog yesterday — so this is going to have to cover both days.

I got 912 words yesterday, and did some more worldbuilding. It was an important day because I figured out the big element in an upcoming scene —

And TODAY wrote that great scene, forgetting that it was going to have to be the big MID-NOVEL conflict scene.

So after writing the majority of that scene today, which I love, by the way, I moved it to Chapter 17.

And tomorrow, I will write the scene in Chapter 7 that I should have written today.

Good words. Wrong place. It happens. With modern word processing (as opposed to the manual typewriter I used when I was getting started) it’s no big deal.

Cut and Paste is AWESOME.


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“Interesting choice…” My MC didn’t just surprise her enemy. She surprised me.

By Holly Lisle

Today’s words went well. I have my hero in a nicely awful situation, and she’s going to see a whole lot worse for the rest of this week’s writing.

Have a total on Book 4 of 33,137 words, and 1362 for today. Good writing day, lots of fun with my character and the trouble I’ve put her in.

I left myself looking forward to tomorrow.

 

On other subjects,… the Summer of Fiction Writing event over at HollysWritingClasses.com ends today. I have a vote up on whether or not to do an Autumn of Fiction writing, or some other alternatives.

If you’re an HWC member/writer reading this, I’d appreciate your feedback.

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Ohio 4 Slow start, but some nice conflict — 852 words

By Holly Lisle

This morning didn’t go as I’d planned (scheduling conflicts and a calendar screw-up that broke a couple of planned things), and I was way late getting started on the words.

But the local high-school football stadium found its way into the story, and tomorrow, I’ll be writing some scary, magic-y things happening there. Things that are FINALLY going to reveal the identity of one traitor…

Though not the BIG one.

The new outline is working well so far. 


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Book 5 outline done — and my application of Creative Destruction.

By Holly Lisle

So I have all thirty scenes for Book 5.

I love what I got. It’s solid, it holds together, it brings in essential pieces from the first four novels and uses stuff I hid throughout the first three (and in-progress fourth) stories to tie things up in a fashion I think is really cool.

It’s a target to shoot for… but again —

No plan survives first contact with the enemy.

And when you’re the writer, the outline is the plan, then you are the enemy.

So there’s that.

I have done all this work knowing that I’m going to get back to writing Book Four, using the MUCH better ideas that I’ve come up with over the past few days to direct it toward the ending…

And I am going to break shit again.

I imagine my re-think on the rest of Book 4 will mostly hold.

I imagine that the completely destructive outline of Book 5 (not ONE scene from the first outline made it to the second one) is probably doomed to Yet Another Outline when I get to it.

The logical question is:

Why do you do this?

And the born-from-brutal-experience answer is NOT —“If I can’t see where I’m going, I can’t get there.”

It’s much messier and crueler than that. It is, “If I can’t see where I think I’m going, I can’t get anywhere.”

Writing novels for me mostly happens by me having better ideas while I write.

For that to work, I have to have ideas first, though, and they need to be the very best ideas I can come up with at the time.

The process is known (though it’s generally not associated with writing fiction) as “destructive creation.”

It how tractors made horses obsolete — and destroyed the workhorse-breeding industry.  How computers made typewriters obsolete, and destroyed the typewriter manufacturing industry.  

And it’s how I write — I do all this work so that I can break my less-good ideas on my way to coming up with better ideas.

Though I don’t think I’ve ever really thought of it as that until today.


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Today I studied the map, asked WHY… made good progress on OUTLINE 5… figured out why YESTERDAY crashed…

By Holly Lisle

Can’t say today was easy. I walked in circles (literally) because pacing helps me generate ideas, talked to myself out loud to ask important questions, looked at my map and drew a few circles on it to identify story issues…

And then I went back to the line-for-scene outline and managed to come up with eleven line-for-scene sentences, a MASSIVE conflict I’d forgotten to consider while pushing for the series end, and now not only do I love the new direction the series takes in the final novel…

But I cannot wait to write the damn thing.

Could stuff in BOOK 4 break things in the final outline between now and then?

Sure.

Could I hit some sort of wall tomorrow while figuring out the remaining eleven LFS sentences?

Oh, most certainly.

But there are solid principles to storytelling that I follow… and if I don’t end up using what I have now, it will only because I have something that is provably better.

 

About the Tuesday Crash…

I forgot that I hadn’t had any food since Sunday at about 7 p.m.

It’s a mostly regular intermittent fasting thing we do — one meal a day Tuesday through Sunday, then don’t eat again until Tuesday at around 7 p.m.

And mostly that works just fine. Sometimes, though, I get a little hungry by Tuesday morning, and instincts kick in that send me in search of food: BODY gets up and walks to the fridge or to the cashew can, BRAIN grabs body, turns it around, and sits it back at the desk, BODY waits until brain is engaged in though (so not paying attention) and walks over to the damn fridge again…

That, with multiple repetitions, was Tuesday.

Tomorrow, I have eleven more Line-For-Scene Sentences to go to finish the Book 5 outline.

So — this is within reach… and I should be back to writing Book Four on either Friday or Monday.

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Down into the DEEP dark… Outline 4 completely redone.

By Holly Lisle

After the weekend break, I came in this morning to a blank outline for Ohio 4, and no idea what was going to go in there… except that it had to be big.

I suspect, however, that while I was playing a lot of No Man’s Sky and having fun in my new solar system with three suns discovering alien lifeforms and building a new base, my subconscious mind was tinkering around with the problems I have with the current Book 4.

Because today, I sat down, and thirty line-for-scene sentences leapt from my fingers to the document in just under two hours.

And they answer my questions. They retrofit the shock I had last weekend into what already exists so seamlessly that books One through Three can stay just as they are…

(WELL, they’re first draft, so I’m still going to have to revise and debug, but this massive revelation doesn’t mess up anything in them)…

And I have my Book Four ending.

And I have the conflict for Book Five that is so compelling, and scary, and kind of heartbreaking, that I can’t wait to write it.

THIS is what taking down-time — walking away from the story for a while, doing things that are not thinking about the book, and just letting things bake — does for me.

I can never look at writing fiction as neat, or orderly, or simple. I can never think it’s easy, even after all these years.

I can never think that I know, absolutely and confidently, where the story is going, or that as I’m writing, I’m writing the best story or the best ending.

I can, however, know that I have a process to get to the best ending.

It’s messy. It’s a lot of work.

But, holy crap, does it ever manage to surprise me in the best possible ways.

So… that was today. 

Tomorrow, (even though I know I’ll be changing things all the way to the end of Book 4), I have to do a new 30-scene line-for-scene outline for Ohio 5.

I already know I won’t use some of it. Maybe most of it.

But just as I cannot hit a target I cannot see, so I can’t make a better target for the final book unless I can see the target that’s already there.

Today changed everything. So tomorrow, I build the new final target that, while I’m writing Book 5, I will try to beat.


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Have figured out the plot summaries for Ohio 4 and Ohio 5 — now to the line-for-scene outlines

By Holly Lisle

Kind of a headdesk day today.

Been at this for about three hours already, and it looks like I’ve only achieved 60 words so far: A 30-word plot sentence for Ohio 4, and a 30-word plot sentence for Ohio 5.

It’s a lot more than that, though.

While I can’t count any of the words, I had to rant at myself in my text notes to figure out the primary and secondary conflicts on each of the two remaining novels, and make sure I included stories for each of the primary series characters…

And I had to figure out how to retrofit one of this morning’s revelations into the three earlier books without breaking anything…

And I had to ditch my main character’s sister — not just for novel four, but for the entire five-book series. It won’t affect that many scenes, or the overall plot (which, in fact, was one of the problems and part of the reason I have to do it), and I’ve figured out how most of the affected minor scenes be adapted for secondary characters who already have other things to do in this series.

If there is a second five-book series in this world… or just one-off novels… I might be able use the sister.

In this series, though, she ended up having nothing essential to do, and her presence raised questions about why she was there in the first place (she gave my MC something important to do at the start of Book 3) — but I figured out a better way to begin Book 3 that will still hit all the same goals.

So… now I’m going to start the new Book Four line-for-scene outline, and hope I can salvage some scene sentences. If I can’t, I can’t.

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Reworking the Ohio #4 Outline — The outline from the current chapter on is “burn to ground, start over”

By Holly Lisle

As noted in yesterday’s post, today’s work has required me to gut the outline for Book 4, and rethink.

While I’ll be able to keep the scenes I’ve already written in Book Four, I won’t be able to keep much of any of the future scenes I’d planned.

Progress is slow, and also (big surprise) painful, because all changes to what I’d planned in Book 4 will have a domino effect on what I’d planned for Book 5, and once I finish the first draft of Book 4, I’m going to have to replot Book 5.

This is the price of the better idea — so before you turn your series upside down to chase this beast, you have to know that your “Better Idea” really is better.

This one is.

It is worth all the work it’s taking me to redo the final two outlines, because the single critical piece of information about the villain that my subconscious mind withheld from me through the writing of the first three books and the first quarter of the forth brings a depth and a power to the story that I hadn’t imagined was possible.

I already built the critical pieces of this story line into the first three books… without knowing I was doing it.

However, in Book 4, I started veering away from this secret I was keeping from myself and what it meant — and that was when my gut told me I’d gone in the wrong direction… and FINALLY told me its secret.

No words today. (There’s no point in counting outline Sentences because they don’t ever show up in the actual story).

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