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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PART ONE of the day: 843 words on Teaser Story Two

By Holly Lisle

I woke up this morning knowing a big chunk of the second give-away story I’m writing for folks who join the (not yet available) Ohio Novel launch list.

Once all five books are done and revised and have their covers and are all set up in Amazon, I send my little list of folks who want to read them to the launch list.

The folks who scan up with get two freebie stories that will let you know whether or not these stories are going to be of interest to you.

The first introduces the 29 year-old main character of the novels when she’s in the fifth grade, and first discovers what it is that her grandmother does.

The second introduces a surgeon who will become important to my MC (she gets hurt a lot in her work) and her best friend.  The first story has been finished for more than a year. The second one is a lot longer, and I did another 843 words on it today (shown in the screenshot above).

But now… on to Book 4, and today’s 1250 words (or better).

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Special houses (may I never visit one on a bad day)… 1321 words of 1250 needed, 5573 total.

By Holly Lisle

Sometimes I scare myself.

I write words every day in a process where I give over a lot of control to my Right Brain Muse.

Small but important note: Right-brain muses — parts of the brain that don’t do much with words and spelling, but that do hold images and ideas and imagination — are theoretical, with the theory coming from studies done of people who had medically severed corpus callosa to stop intransigent seizures. It might very well be that with an unsevered corpus callosum, the brain is much more equitable in distributing its workload to both parts. I, however, like thinking of my left brain as the one that has the logic and reliably shows up for work every day whether we feel like it or not, while I like thinking that the right brain as the one infested with the nightmares and ghosts and really gruesome ideas for things to do to my poor characters that it finds disturbingly funny.

Either way, there is a part of my brain that comes up with wicked plot twists, that scares me, that makes me laugh, and that makes me cry, even though all the stuff it’s pitching at me is stuff it made up — stuff that never really happened — and I try to put that part in charge of the writing as much as possible.

This morning, this part stepped into the scene I’d planned, muttered “Oh, honey, that’s not even close to the worst thing that could happen in this situation” — and went to town.

Today I was almost a spectator to the words that rolled onto the page at ridiculous speed.

Today I scared myself.

No idea how much of this scene will survive in revision, but when my mind decided the bad guys were not going to win this round, it gave me something that I can see visiting me in nightmares for some years to come.

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


Ohio 4 Begins! 1446 words, and 1674 total.

By Holly Lisle

I start each new novel with a template I built for myself.

It has my type styles (Courier 12, double space, first line indent, and thirty chapters all set up.

My pre-built Chapter 1 (I built it when I bought Scrivener, and it has survived ever since) looks like this.

SomethingClever Goes Here

The little “Something Clever Goes Here” sentence beneath the CHAPTER 1 header never fails to amuse me when I open the new template… but I’m easily amused.

So today, before I started on the words, I transferred my entire line-for-scene outline to the Scrivener document, sentence by sentence, in to the thirty blank chapters.

And discovered that somehow I had managed to write thirty-one Scene Sentences, and all of them were important.

So I added a new Chapter 31. 

I’m not sure where the extra chapter came from in the outline, but I’ll figure it out.

Meanwhile, the new blank document started with a word count of 228 — these are mystery words that I can’t find anywhere in the document.

Sooner or later, I’ll run across them and delete them. But for now, I wrote 1466 words (out of my planned 1250), and show 1674 total words in the novel.

I love the scene I got… and with it, I’m off to the races.


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Finished all thirty Book Four sentences… Will start Chapter 1 tomorrow.

By Holly Lisle

So there it is. 

I already know the outline is not perfect.

I already know that there are parts of it I will change as I write them, that there are places where I will have better ideas, that there are places where I will decide a scene I’ve outlined is stupid — and will change it — and then will decide that I was right the first time, and go back in and do what I planned…

But this is the process — for me, anyway.

This is how my brain works… and I can’t even say it’s the way it works BEST.

It’s just the way I’ve figured out that allows me to write first drafts that are good enough to keep while I revise them into the stories I wish I could have created right out of the gate.

I have something that has shape and form and that takes me from where I am to where I think I want to be, and that allows me the room to find better destinations (and the net to save the story when one of them turns out to be an imaginary bridge over a very real cliff).

Now I’ll go through the rest of my list of things to do for today… 

And tomorrow, I’ll start on page one, word one of Ohio Book 4.

I’m excited. I always am.


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Getting ready to start the Line-For-Scene Outline of Ohio 4

By Holly Lisle

In the little image above, you can see the blue-outlined box with OH-3 CUR1stD in the middle.

Below it, a gray box with a blue text icon and Ohio #1-4.

Enigmatic, maybe, and not very informative. Until you see them in context and understand what a big deal this is.

If you’re a non-nerd reader waiting to read the Ohio Series when it comes out, you can read just this bit and get the good stuff.

OH-3 CUR1stD in the image above stands for Ohio 3, Complete Unrevised First Draft. It’s moved next to its two siblings (show in the big image below this section), where it will wait until I revise the entire pile of five novels in ONE pass.

Immediately below it in the image above there now sits a new blue document link. Ohio #1-4.

I’m building a NEW outline for that book today, because I broke all the old outlines when writing Ohio 3.

I’m hoping to start writing Ohio 4 on either Monday or Tuesday of next week.

 

!!!NERD ALERT!!!

Seriously nerdy writer process and software discussion ahead. 

If you are a reader or writer NERD… keep reading. From here on out, I’m talking about the BIG picture, from which I grabbed the little picture.

Here’s the big picture.

Screen Shot 2021 07 09 at 7 55 44 AM

This is the current organization of my fiction process and writing documents, aided by FREETER, the software that makes all the spiffy boxes, each of which is a link to a folder, a document, or something that I have to do each day, like go in and edit my newest blog post.

In the big image above, you can see two rows of stuff that I’m using to build the Ohio Novels. (Or will be once I’m that far.)

My link to my series storage folder, top file. Inside that folder, I have all the worldbuilding, all the notes to myself, all the character development, the books… everything.

Then there’s OBJ1- which is my list of objectives for the first five Ohio Novels (“first” assumes they will do well enough to warrant a second series. If they don’t, there will not be a second series).

A list of cover artists I might be able to afford when the time for cover art comes. Then a cluster of ideas (at the moment) for freebie Ohio stories I’ll write once the series itself is complete, revised, and with Matt for editing that folks who sign up for my pseudonym’s mailing list will receive.

The one-click link to my blog — it’s faster than typing.

Stuff for my UrbanFantasyGirl email list (empty at the moment — that list doesn’t get much love until all five books are done and revised, when I can start sending out teasers and goodies).

The series calendar… built around a real calendar (and a real year) so that I don’t make stupid date mistakes, so that I can track time and pay attention to changing seasons… stuff like that.

Also so that (SERIOUS NERD ALERT) I can make sure that I get sunrises and sunset times correct for specific days — which is important, but saying why would be A) a small spoiler, and B) massively geeky. (Warned ya. Hah!)

In general though, and not giving anything away, each of the books in the first series takes place over a couple of weeks in one month, and each book contains one complete adventure, as well as a couple of bigger stories that will only be complete within the five-book series.

The OHIO S1 W&C is my complete list of world conventions and the characters in the book. It’s very, very easy to just keep throwing new characters into new books. It’s much harder to keep track of existing characters and make sure they remain in all the books and experience changes and growth, and don’t just vanish into the ether because you forgot to write them.

(VERY easy. I have not yet forgotten the sting of forgetting to write Danrith in the rest of Fire in the Mist, or at all in Bones of the Past and Mind of the Magic.)

Romance beats are one form of story structure. Hero’s Journey is a second.

I’m working with both.

Finally, the three (YAY, THREE) completed first drafts, and then the last two novels, and their hero’s journey outline and Line For Scene outlines.

But of which are going to have to be redone before the writing starts, because while I’m writing, I constantly play “beat the outline”, trying to build something better in the story than what I already figured out.

Which means all the old outlines for later books become useless.

You’d think I shouldn’t waste time writing them  then, right? It’s logical.

But if I don’t have the vision of an entire story from book one through book five sitting in my head, complete with pretty good ending, and a lot of nice twists… there’s nothing for me to beat.

So all the work I don’t use has a real and essential purpose. If I don’t have “pretty good” and “not too bad” staring me in the face as I’m writing… I don’t have anything to fight, or anything to beat.

END NERD ALERT

Time to start outlining.

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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Calm before the storm day: 1428 words, and 84,814 total

By Holly Lisle

Next Monday, all hell is going to have to break loose in Tori’s world, but today was… nice. Relaxing. She and someone who is going to be important in her life from now on got the chance to meet each other after a long and harrowing ordeal in finding each other.

I was grateful that the writing went so smoothly — and doubly grateful that I woke up early this morning and knew most of what I wanted to accomplish when I started.

I managed to surprise myself a couple times. Discovered a bit of fun I hadn’t anticipated.

And I left myself in a very nice position to pick up next week.


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My MC meets her helpers… Uh-oh! 1300 words, and 83,915 total

By Holly Lisle

I left myself in a good place yesterday to pick up the story today, and it went well. At this point, I’m having to keep reminding myself not to over-build the world… but the characters I met today are going to become some fun points of conflict in the final two books in the series.

Tomorrow, however, I have to shift back into the big core conflict of the entire five-book series, and I’m really looking forward to that.

Also, I had amiable company today — Sheldon — reminding me with occasional pats on the leg that All Work and No Play Means Cats Aren’t Getting Enough Snacks.

Sheldon 2021 06 22 1200


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What’s in a legacy? 1264 words, and 73,586 total for Novel #3

By Holly Lisle

My MC today discovered the details of the legacy her grandmother left her — things that she should have known months earlier, when she first returned home.

With the full extent of her inheritance revealed to her, she’s also discovered that there were things she did wrong when she first returned home, and one critical mistake she made back then that is almost certainly going to come back to bite her in the butt.

She knows that in one instance, she has trusted exactly the wrong person. She just doesn’t know which person.

I got good words today, though they did not come quickly or easily today.

And I got to research a bit on the 1919 Volstead Act, and American Prohibition, and speakeasy bars.

I thoroughly enjoyed today’s writing.

But now… onward.


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