Catching up on the updates: Starting at page 291 on the Ohio 2 revision

By Holly Lisle

The last couple days have been hectic, and I’ve managed to miss blogging twice.

But I’ve gotten my revision pages every day. This morning, I’m starting the write-in revision on page 291. The last page in the novel is 431. I won’t get there today, but I’ll make good headway toward getting there, and might be able to wrap up the Book 2 revision tomorrow.

Yesterday’s revision was a lot of fun — I hit a scene I’d forgotten writing, and laughed my ass while working my way through it. My poor main character is under attack by enemies both hidden and right out in the open, and yesterday the bad guys tried to pull a bait-and-switch on her.

This was stuff I’d forgotten having written, so it was all fresh to me, and reading through it, I had a fair amount of stuff to fix.

BUT the scenes I worked on took me by surprise in multiple places, and made me laugh out loud once.

Today I’m onto the next section, and I’m pretty sure stuff gets darker. But when you write in flow — that is, when your brain is making up the story as you go and your fingers are pretty much taking dictation — you don’t labor over words, so when you come back to them, you’re as surprised as readers will be by what happens next.

Therefore… <evil grin> I’m looking forward to discovering what else my writing brain did while I wasn’t looking.

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OHIO 2 REVISION: Made it to manuscript page 134 of the Ohio 2 type-in.

By Holly Lisle

And in this particular set of chapters, I’ve managed to make myself cry a couple of times.

The fixes in this section have been mostly small (typos, spellos, extra spaces), and the couple of bigger changes let me add a bit more emotion to the terrible thing that my main character is discovering.

It was a very, very good writing day — and I LOVE this world and the bits of story I got to work on today.

But now… forums, and then off to do the Live In The Real World stuff.

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So today I start the type-in of the Ohio 2 Revision

By Holly Lisle

I was up at six, (when you’re fasting, it’s weirdly easy to roll out of bed at the crack of dawn and be through the shower, done with the first cup of coffee, before seven AM… and at my desk and finished with necessary work emails and the one help desk ticket only I could do not long after that. 

So now I’m on to Ohio Two… The TYPE IN.

I open the manuscript, I drag the big-ass pile of paper over to my right, look at my three big URGENT!!! sticky notes tacked to the right side of my computer screen (the one about Derovi, the one about the absolutely necessary weapons change, and the one about the Hosho) and I get ready to write.

By writing the five novels back-to-back-to-back without going back to re-read the previous books, I’ve done some interesting things.

  • I changed both world and story physics as I got a better feel for how to set hard limitations on the magic
  • I had better ideas that I leapt into the middle of that now must have some antecedents built up front
  • I created some characters at the end who now need to be worked into the beginning (or at least into books two and three)
  • And, working my way through from the beginning now, I did one thing at the end of Book Five that I’m probably going to have to smash with a hammer. Or at least give a MUCH better reason for its existence.

All of this is standard shit for any revision. It’s just that I’ve never revised five novels back to back before with none yet in print (meaning I have the FREEDOM to change stuff at the beginning, and am not stuck with worldbuilding that I regret locking me into story physics that was too unlimited and too open).

The best thing any novelist can do to get good, tight stories is to build good, tight limitations into the worldbuilding. 

If anything can happen, nothing matters.

If just about everything is impossible, you can get your character embedded deeply in the swamp with the quicksand, the alligators, the poisonous snakes, and the half-starved, injured panther with a taste for human flesh, and have helluva lot of fun making your character work for his escape.

THAT’s what I’m doing today. (None of the stuff includes South Florida swamps or wildlife, though. This is all Pure Ohio™.)

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Today I hit a messy part of the manuscript…

By Holly Lisle

I had a small fight with myself over whether to keep two short-term characters and the scene that included them, and after some struggle and bouncing my arguments around with myself, I let them stay.

They tie into an earlier incident, and my conclusion with them in this book does offer some promise that today’s incident can offer some spiffy repercussions in books down the road.

Lot of handwriting in today’s work. Am now down to the BOTTOM of page 287 on the manuscript, with 431 total in the book. 

I am very, very happy with Book 2 to this point. But now…

On to the rest of the day’s work. 😀

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Character Paranoia, and the State of Revision

By Holly Lisle

I’m past the halfway mark on the read-through-note-taking process on Ohio 2.

I have a lot of the first draft that I’ll be able to use as is.

That’s good. I have written novels where I discovered the first draft was The Story I Don’t Want To Tell (and could still run into that in Books 3, 4, or 5. It happens. Isn’t fun when it does, but at least I know how to fix it.)

About sixty percent of the first draft so far is going to take middling rework (rethinking, taking out wrong directions, adding in the better direction I’ve come up with). About ten percent is just wrong, because what I discovered in books three, four, and five while I wrote them changed some of my understanding of my world.

And there’s one story thread that I discovered while reading that gets expanded, because it’s funny, it’s scary, and I love it like bunnies.

The image is an unrelated keeper quote from the current Chapter 13, which is here because it happens to be on the page I’m starting with this morning.

But about Character Paranoia… (also related to the gray squirrel)…

My MC is suffering a bad case of it right now, because home looks like she remembered, but it doesn’t work like she remembered… and she’s discovering that the stakes attached to the house her grandma left her are a lot higher than… well… than a woman coming home to the small town she loved would hope.

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Revelation Struck!!!

By Holly Lisle

You grind. You dig. You read with increasing despair through a manuscript that seemed while you were writing it like a thing of wonder.

You wonder how you could have gone so far off the mark. And you think, “How did I think this was going to work?” and consider the possibility that you’re going to have to ditch all of Book Two, and write a completely different second novel.

And then, while hanging out with your guy while he’s shaving, you suddenly have this damned lightning-bolt-out-of-blue-holy-crap-why-didn’t-see-this-before revelation.

You were asking the wrong primary question about the second book.

To avoid spoilers, I’m going to eliminate the details, and just state that, looking at the story I’d told and where it went off the rails, I was asking a WHY question.

The SECOND I rephrased the core novel conflict question to make it a HOW question, the book worked. 

Yeah, I’ll still need to do some revision. But my shifting the focus from WHY to HOW, this becomes a light, relatively friendly fix, where most of Book 2 is okay as written.

Revision is a bitch.

It screws with your head at the best of times and tells you the story is utter unsalvageable crap  (or your head lies to you and tells you the damn thing is perfect, which is actually worse for your outcome in the long run). Either way, you believe, and when you believe, you embrace the risk of putting crap out into the universe with your name (or pseudonym) on it.

And then you walk away, let your brain wander off to do other things… and your mind relaxes, and lets go of all the stress and anxiety.

And an answer appears.

Very, very sideways thinking, this process. And it still feels like magic every time it happens.

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Read-through write-in revision of Ohio 2 now done through page 233 of 431

By Holly Lisle

Read-through/write-in notes today flew, with Book 2 being a remarkably clean first draft (not even a lot of typos)…

…Right up to the point where it wasn’t. 

In the last three novels, I changed some of the worldbuilding that I did in Two to something much better. And when I ran into the spot where I’d used OLD worldbuilding on page 221, I ended up doing a hard re-think on how I could save most of what I’d written in the next few chapters while still removing one BIG change that could have cost me about three to four chapters.

Got it, managed to do it while only killing about 250 words, and tomorrow I’ll get to write a nifty bit of new stuff that makes the world a little weirder… but while NOT BREAKING later worldbuilding essential to the rest of the five novels. (And, if the first five find their readership, more books beyond them.)

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Cuss, cuss, swear, swear, @#%^&*Z!!!!

By Holly Lisle


What a week.  Earlier, the kitchen sink started spouting water, so we were doing dishes in the bathroom sink.

Then the water heater died. Matt found a plumber, who will be coming out today, but since Monday, I’ve been refreshing my unused-but-never-forgotten camping skills, and have been doing a daily bath using one cup of bottled water.

Yeah, it can be done.

Yeah, you can get clean.

No, it is NOT as wonderful as a nice shower with hot water. And washing your hair in the other cup of water from the bottle isn’t fun, and does not give great results.

Good news, though… the plumber is coming today.

Meanwhile, I got ready to print out all four remaining manuscripts for a single five-novel one-pass revision. (Book One is already revised, but I do have to read through it and take notes on important elements that need to be consistent from book to book.)

However, I accidentally printed #5 first, and used up the last of my in-place HP printer cartridge doing that.

No problem, though. I’d bought a well-reviewed refurb cartridge off Amazon. 

Except the product turned out to be A) a counterfeit cartridge for which B) people giving it 5-star reviews could prove they’d purchased it in order to get a $30 kickback from the company (information was in the box). I shredded the kickback offer. (wish I hadn’t now) — I would have added photos of the get-your-kick-back paperwork to my one-star review.

Meanwhile, the printer identified it as counterfeit, and would not use it.

Because I bought it months ago so I’d have it ready to go for the five novels, I couldn’t return it.

So yesterday, we went to the BIG BOX (name withheld ‘cause I’m betting this next thing isn’t their fault) local office supply company, got their brand refill cartridge for $110, and got THIS warning message…Screen Shot 2022 06 30 at 8 14 39 AM

So I didn’t use it. I just put it back in the box, and am hoping that the place from which I bought it will take it back. We paid $110 for it yesterday. I have NO pages to show for that money spent.


Now I’m just going to wait for the plumber to get here.

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By Holly Lisle

No, I didn’t plan this. I thought I had another three weeks of writing to hit the end.

Yesterday, I was galloping along, and I’d planned to pick up today with the logical continuation of the scene I wrote yesterday, where my characters were in trouble…

And when I loped back into the office this morning to pick up where I left off, brain said, “Here, little writer. Here you go… have this spiffy bait…”

And I followed along, and the scene did not go where I expected. It went someplace so much better, and surprised me, and made me laugh…

And all of a sudden, in 2,000-ish words, the ending was right there. And it was the RIGHT ending.

So now I’m taking the weekend off.

I have five novels.

I’ve already read and revised the first one. The other four have been sitting on my hard drive, waiting for me to finish the first drafts so I can revise them all at once, and make sure I’m consistent with the changes I make…

Which means re-reading Book One before I do anything else, and then working off of that as I do four back-to-back revisions.

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Came up short… but landed well

By Holly Lisle

Today’s scene was fun. I like what I got, I like the twist, I like the humor.

I am, however, not feeling well, and at the point were I realized I’ve been circling the drain on the scene without coming up with a “what next”, or anything else that would let me hit today’s planned word count, I ALSO realized it’s time to go stretch out on the couch and take a nap. Going to skip fixing links in emails today, going to skip heading into the forums. 

I got 1177 words out of 1250 planned, and I really like what I got.

So for today, that’s going to have to be good enough.

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