“No plan survives first contact with the enemy…”

By Holly Lisle

Or second contact… 

Or third…

The quote may  come from Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, or Carl von Clausewitz, or Dwight D. Eisenhower… or just some dude who knew shit.

But it’s true — and it isn’t just true about war.

It’s true about any sort of creation that requires spontaneous adaptation to unknowable but expected change. Like writing fiction.

I outline while knowing the nature of outlining, which is this —

The thing fictional characters do when presented with a story plan is to act around the plan — to do something that will beat the plan. Fictional heroes and villains alike invariably act like real human beings. That is, they work to improve their own odds of success inside the story, and by doing so, they invariably shift the odds in their favor, and invariably surprise me.

These surprises are good for the story — if they surprise me, they will surprise the reader.

They’re just such a pain in the ass… because my heroes AND my villains keep blowing up my nice, neat, carefully plotted outline.

But anyway, that’s where I am today — several hours into my workday, having to stop to re-plot the next few scenes of my outline to maintain the structure of the story I’m building so that I can keep the cool shit one of the little jerks just did.


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Three steps forward, two steps back: Ohio 4, Chapter 7… and done, I think, with stuff brought forward from Ohio 3

By Holly Lisle

I am, much to my delight, just about out of the stuff I saved from Ohio 3 to use in Ohio 4. It’s good stuff, and reworking it so that it fits the current worldbuilding is interesting, and fun…

…But constantly ripping out old words as I insert the better new ones is not my favorite process. 

First draft is — for me — about hitting my stride and telling the story the first time… meeting fresh new situations and seeing how they turn out.

And for the last week-ish, I have not been getting to do pure first draft. I’ve been doing “saving of stuff I wrote into the wrong book the first time.” Which is practical… but kind of a pain in the ass.

In the screenshot below, I have the first three chapters of Ohio 4 — all new material. Then PRE-A through PRE-D — all stuff that I just dragged out of Ohio 3 into this manuscript. Then chapters four through 7.

Screen Shot 2021 08 16 at 12 22 27 PM

 

As of today, I’ve used everything I’m going to from PRE-A- PRE-C now. And just skimming through D before I wrote this, I think I can let that stuff go into the trash. None of it counts as words unless I move it into an actual chapter, so just dumping it won’t affect word count.

If I do that, tomorrow I’ll start in with brand new words… and I’ll get to start running again.

For today, I have a net gain of 332 words, and a total of 29,070.

 

Oh, yeah. And writers who have more series-marketing chops than I do have suggested that I not completely discount Urban Fantasy in favor of Contemporary Fantasy just yet. From my descriptions, some have noted that it sounds like it could fit in with the older and broader definition of Urban Fantasy that started with Charles deLint and Peter S. Beagle…

So I’m going to hang fire on any hard classifications of this until the whole five-book series is done and revised.

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


Bending space-time, dealing with elf shot, and 1344 words today.

By Holly Lisle

I’m now, much to my surprise, Ohio 4 is at 28,400 words. After the unwelcome but necessary “not writing” work yesterday, today was fun and exciting, and I got to know a lot more about my newest folks in the series.

I had to do a bit of retrofitting on some of what I got on Tuesday — that day off to deal with other things did give me a bit of perspective when I went in and started to work.

And my MC’s best friend is still in trouble. 

But now, on to the other stuff on today’s list.

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Ohio-Novel Monday: Still working through the rewrite of the stuff I saved last Friday

By Holly Lisle

I did a lot of words. Pulled stuff out, put stuff in, and at the end of it, I don’t have 1250 words to show for my time, but when you’re fixing and tinkering and replacing chunks of text, that’s the way it goes.

I Iike this section. I love the characters, I love the conflict, I love the weirdness of it.

But in first draft, I really prefer writing new words to rescuing old ones from a previous book.

The count for the day? 549 net words, and 24,791 total.

However, this does mean that I am now significantly past the the 25% mark on the book.

Onward!


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Ohio 4: Back into the new stuff! Danger. Adventure. Mystery…. and 1254 words. (17,161 total)

By Holly Lisle

Today was all new words, and I love them. They came at me with a complete twist from what I’d planned to write, but they still got me to where I need to be come Monday

So this was a good, good writing week. And now I’m ready for the weekend.


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Ohio 4: Big word count, weird scene — and now I’m in Chapter 5

By Holly Lisle

Urban fantasy is “where normal life and magic collide.”

Today’s collision was big, fun, and above all, very strange.

I got 2339 words for the day (all new), and now have 15,906 total for the book, and did some heavy revision on the keeper scene I brought in yesterday.

I also deleted words, so I actually wrote more than what’s showing. 

BUT… I’m having a lot of fun with this scene, which is allowing me to bring in some creatures that are going to be both a blessing and a plague for my main character from now on.

And a plague and a blessing for the town in which she lives.

And… nah. I’m not going to give hints. But what I hoped would work is now working. And my scene tomorrow should be a lot of fun to write, too.

I’m going to leave it at that now, and go get my other stuff done. 😀

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


Ohio 4: Friends, cannibals, and 4,475 words (of 1250 planned, plus how THAT happened)… and 15,118 total…

By Holly Lisle

I wrote about 700 actual words today.

Following which, I benefitted by having vastly overwritten a big chunk of Ohio 3, in which I leapt ahead and did a ton of stuff that actually needed to wait until this book.

When I realized, back in Book 3, that I’d gotten ahead of myself, I set those words aside (counting their loss from Book 3 when I did so)… and today, got to add ONE piece of that word count back in.

I’m not sure that I’ll be able keep them all — but today, I had fun with money.

With the concept of money, and the concept of trade, and with people who understand TRADE versus those who understand MONEY, and the very nasty complications that can occur when these two incompatible groups of people collide.

And I’ll get to have some more fun with that tomorrow… and will probably end up a few words down rather than a few words up in the process, because the gigantic scene I’d pulled out of Book 3 is 4860 words long, and I’m positive that I got wordy.

But for today, I’m done, and moving on to other things on my list.


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When a house is not a home (and a READERS-ONLY request)… 1266 words, and 9439 total

By Holly Lisle

I thought I knew what was going to happen today… and what happened did fit exactly inside my objectives for the scene, while at the same time turning everything I’d planned inside out and upside down on me and surprising me completely.

And the cool twist of the day operated on the following writing principle:

Always assume your characters are smarter than you, that they’re not telling you the truth about the situations that they’re in, and that when you think you have a thing figured out and are getting ready to reveal it, the character who was supposed to be shocked in the one who is going to say, “You thought THAT was the surprise? Oh, please… This is what’s really going on.”

I love that moment — it’s pure Muse, it shows me how parts of my mind have been working outside of my assumption of what I think I’m doing, so that when it all comes together, I’m shocked. And delighted. And the pieces all still fit — just not the way I expected them to.

It happens to me a lot — and today, it was especially fun.

 

A NOTE FOR URBAN FANTASY READERS ONLY

If you’re interested in the way these stories are coming together, and you want to be in on the five-book/five-month launch when I finish them and take them live, you can sign up for my launch list here.

Holly’s “Not-Yet-Revealing-the-Pseudonym” Pre-Launch List

Once I have all five books done in first draft, I’ll do the revision.

Of all five books.

At once.

This is what’s technically known in fiction writing circles as a “a big pain in the ass” (seriously… that is a bona fide technical term) — but it’s also the best way to make sure all five books connect deeply to each other, and the best way to get rid of weird “I changed my mind halfway through the series” continuity errors.

While I’m doing that, readers will start getting “urban fantasy girl” emails, where I’ll be asking you some questions, and we’ll be talking about urban fantasy in general, and mine in particular.

Once I have the revision done and have the books in Matt’s hands (he’s been my content editor for twenty-six years, and he’s a great one), the folks on the pre-launch list will start being invited to discussions about cover art, series titles, characters you love and why… fun stuff that will at the same time help me figure out where in the Urban Fantasy landscape these books will fit (and that will let you figure out whether they’re the kind of urban fantasy you like).

I’ll be asking some questions, answering some questions, maybe giving a few teasers, DEFINITELY giving away two free short stories for all launch participants… and once you’re comfortable that these either are or aren’t your kind of urban fantasy, I’ll invite the folks who are pretty sure this is your kind of thing to pick up the actual novel. Five books. Five months. Absolute best prices on all of them during the launch.

Once again, for urban fantasy fans only, here’s the sign-up form.

Holly’s “Not-Yet-Revealing-the-Pseudonym” Pre-Launch List

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


I now have twenty-four of thirty Story Sentences written.

By Holly Lisle

Long haul — I’ve been at this since 6: 30 am when I got out of the shower.

Today a hard slog — I did a fair amount of deleting, twiddling, rethinking… walking in circles in the office talking out loud to myself and presenting both sides of the “how should I do this?” brainstorming and “why that won’t work” opposition.

But today I got all the way through the BIG MESS of Book Four, and tomorrow I have just six sentences left in which to work out the chaos, mostly resolve the issues of this book…

And bring forward the one thing everyone missed that will form the CORE story for Book Five.

As work days go, I’ll take it.

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


HAPPY DANCE!… Ohio 3 first draft finished at 89,556 words and 1828 for the day

By Holly Lisle

Today was a good day. I had to delete one whole chapter, and I ended up writing about three times as many words as what shows, because of that giant chunk of deletion.

But I landed the next to last chapter, and retrofitted the last chapter to fit the new stuff today.

The last chapter — it had originally been written as a middle chapter, but it had that perfect last line that, when I read it this morning, made me laugh and cry  — didn’t need much. I made it match the new next-to-last chapter.

And then read it again. And laughed and cried at the same time.

So. Book 3 of the Ohio Series is now done in first draft. And like nearly all my first drafts, it will probably get longer in revision. BUT not today, or tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I’ll read my raw outline for book for, and make that fit what happened in book three.

That might take a few working days, but best guess, I’ll start into Ohio 4 on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Today though?

Happy Dance!


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Today’s words funded by my Ko-Fi supporters.

All supporters are thanked by name (withheld by request) in each book’s acknowledgements.

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