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


What’s in Grandma’s attic? — 1286 words, and 72,321 total

By Holly Lisle

I had kind of a hard start this morning — was up way too late last night, and didn’t sleep well once I got to bed, and then woke up at pretty much my regular time (just after 7 am instead of 6:30-sh). So I would have expected to be off my game.

But I’d left myself at a good place yesterday, and picking up from that scene today went pretty well. I wrote slower than usual — seriously, I could use a nap right now. But I had a lot of fun as soon as I opened up the document and started reading through yesterday’s work and doing tiny tweaks. (And fixing typos.)

By the time I started writing new words, I was rolling, and I discovered some things about my MC’s grandmother’s attic that are very cool. And really weird.

And that tie her back to her great-grandfather, or maybe her great-great grandfather, one of whom was a smith — and who was making a lot more than horseshoes.

Fun scene, fair amount of research on cast iron and ancient coins, and still hit my words.

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


Basements, attics, and the Shudder Factor – 1740 words, 71035 total

By Holly Lisle

Ohio Novel Three has shifted strongly away from my updated line-for-scene outline (as they have all done in this series), but again, what I got today still managed to build on the overall five-book plan. It’s the usual issue of strategy versus tactics — the overall book strategy holds, but on the ground, the tactics have to be changeable as old scene concept get shoved aside as what I build creates better conflicts than what I was able to imagine before I built them.

So while managing tactics today, I managed to make things scarier, and creepier, and — for me — a lot more exciting to write and a lot more fun as I get to watch the story happening.

Yesterday there was a big, big surprise in a basement. I loved this bit.

Today, a portentous discovery in an attic. (This bit creeped me out.)

And tomorrow — a whiff of the traitor who is probably also a murderer.

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


Winging it: 1259 words, and chasing into the darkness.

By Holly Lisle

I loved today. 

The story has moved away from my plans, so I am outlining each new scene before I write it, still with the same landing place at the ending as my objective.

The story and series structure will remain the same, but the events taking place inside of Book 3 are getting some significant upgrades.

For example, today’s bit of the adventure had a (unplanned) hint of Picts versus Romans on the ground that would someday hold Hadrian’s wall… and (planned) cookies in a warm Ohio kitchen with a handful of friends trying to make sense of what was happening.

I’m writing blindfolded… but I’m doing it while hanging onto a nice, sturdy rope. And I love the story that I’m getting by hanging onto that rope and pushing into the darkness.


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


A fine and dangerous day: 1358 words, 64,813 total

By Holly Lisle

The scene rose up around me and pulled me down into it today — it started with my main character doing her job in the present while worrying about the things going on around her that are life-or-death, and that she cannot control, or help with, or make better in any way — and from her frustration and helplessness, it ended with a clear memory of an ancient battle on a hill, with naked men tattooed blue who charged down a hill, led by a woman on a horse. They drove into hell at a dead run to take on the greatest army the world had ever known. 

The scene (and the scene within the scene) flew, and I flew with it. 

Hit my goal with a bit extra, and like what I got. 

Whether I still do when I get to the revision remains, as always, to be seen.

But today was a good writing day.

Summer of Fiction Writing, Work Day 2.

 

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Great Ohio words (1264) and Summer of Writing Fiction 2021 goes live today! SOFW DAY 1

By Holly Lisle

Last week, the story hit some pretty rocky shoals, and I had to do a lot of backing and filling.

Today… none of that. The backing and filling left me in a really good spot, and I found my characters and the conflict today the second I sat down, did a scene that started in a direct and practical fashion, and then had the joy of watching it gain momentum on me, at the end turning into something sort of poetical and beautiful.

And because my older son was trying to stay awake while driving home, I read him what I’d written, and he loved the parts of it that had gone poetical. (No actual poetry — just a nice metaphor spun out in a conversation between two women about hope, and the future, and the people you might someday meet.)

1280 words for the day, 63,455 words in Book Three, and…

Day One of Summer of Fiction Writing 2021

For writers, the SOFW 2021 event starts at HollysWritingClasses.com today. It’s a free event and free membership), and if you write fiction (or would like to), you’re invited. Full details are available at the site linked in the header above and in the first line.

I’m already playing, as are a lot of other folks — a lot of other writers are also joining in. And I’ll just state here that the event will fit itself around any writing you’re already doing — you don’t have to start a new project, or write a whole novel over the three months, or fit a schedule set by anyone else. 

My objectives, just to give you an idea, are to write five days per week, hit 1250 words per day, and come out the other end with about 75,000 words of first draft (which will have me finishing up Book 3 and starting Book 4).

In other words, doing exactly what I was already doing, but posting progress, encouraging other players, and answering questions other writers might have during the event.

I’ve provided a ton of free resources (and a bunch of paid ones if you already know you want to write fiction for a living and want to use the summer to get serious about that).

But mostly, this is a bunch of writers encouraging each other, hitting their goals, and then hanging out and talking shop, and having a really good time. I hope you’ll come hang out, too. 

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


One step forward, two steps back — and the middle part of the middle book of the Ohio series

By Holly Lisle

Yesterday after I finished writing and shut down for the day, I ran through what I’d done and realized that I’d introduced an element into my story that would, if I kept writing it, take the series in a wrong direction. I hated where the series would go with if I held onto those words. When I followed them to their inevitable conclusion, the worldbuildng they introduced would make me hate the series.

Today I went in, dropped back to yesterday’s words, read all the new stuff, and saw that the damage was more extensive than I’d imagined. Having a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go, I started cutting, and then writing in new words.

Fixing. Worldbuilding. Replotting, and then writing in replacement material…

And fixing came with a hefty price tag.

Yesterday, I finished with 60,034 words.

Today, I cut out the smallest amount I could (good surgical practice — don’t remove healthy tissue).

And wrote.

And then ran into the event cascade from my decisions yesterday.

Had to cut more.

Wrote more.

Cut more.

And at the end of three hours, I game out of the mess with 60,419 words total, a net gain of 385 words, and I THINK I’ve removed all the clots and twisted, inflexible scar tissue, and necrotic crud, and anything else that might leak poison into the rest of the series.

I say this knowing that when I come back in tomorrow and do my read-through of what I wrote today, I might find some shit that is still leaning on what broke, and that’s going to have to be ripped out or restructured.

Was not a great, awesome, joyful day. But fixing what broke is part of the gig, and fixing it before it has a chance to break the rest of the series was the best outcome I could hope for.

Maybe tomorrow will flow.

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


Yup. That worked like gangbusters: 1376 words, 58,903 total

By Holly Lisle

I ripped out a big chunk of happy, and replaced it with mean, bad, terrible, monstrous, scary…

The happy is now all the way at the end of the book, where it belongs, not right smack dab in the middle where things are supposed to be going from bad to worse.

So now things are goodin that they have gone from really bad to way, WAY worse. My main character (MC) is in hellish trouble, the person who was supposed to help my MC has been made so dangerous to her that the character tasked with protecting my MC’s protector tries to kill its charge… and, oh…

What a tangled mess we weave… (Marmion, Sir Walter Scott)

My MC has to deal with protecting something dangerous from the one who was supposed to protect that, and tomorrow she has to figure out how to start unravelling the nightmare we’re now all firmly knotted up inside.

And that’s Monday.

<insert big, happy grin here> 


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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


Chaos — a pre-writing post. No words yet. Mess will follow.

By Holly Lisle

I woke up this morning (at about 3 AM) realizing that chapter fifteen, which I wrote last week, was actually the ending of the novel.

I mean… damn. Perfect last line and everything.

Moving that scene to the end gives me a ton of extra terrible trouble into which I can dump my main character. It allows me to bring in the big villain and lesser villains in various roles. It lets me leave the readers uncertain, and worried. It lets me make things bad, and then worse, and then even worse.

Which is where you want a middle book in a five-book series to be. 

Right up to the ending, with it’s absolutely perfect last line.

I might not get a lot of words today. I have to re-plot the scenes between 16 and 29 into a ballet of good and evil, monsters and magic and brilliant villains versus competent, canny small-town folks who can — in the face of evil — get some shit done.

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


EXPOSITORY exposition… Oh. My. God. In SPITE of which… 1,666 words, and 56,070 total

By Holly Lisle

Today was a “thinking with my fingers day”. I was trying inside the story to figure out the workings of elements of the big five-book overall conflict, and I was trying to do this in a scene — 

Except about 1500 words in, I realized that I hadn’t written a scene. I had done worldbuilding in the middle of the book. It’s good stuff. I can keep every bit of it, but at the same time, I probably won’t be able to use a word of it as is.

I’ll have to go through in the revision and turn this into dialogue between my MC and her sister, and I’m going to have to add action, and conflict, and then dump on my character’s heads the actual danger that the block of stuff I wrote today brings forth. 

It’s a GOOD danger — big enough to destroy worlds and solar systems.

Not just all in one place, at one time, in one expository lump from Hell.

So in the moment that Editor Brain broke through and said, “Ahem — that is, if you leave it like that, going to be the most boring bit of mind-numbing nattering your readers will ever try to wade through…”

I invented two new FIRST DRAFT manuscript tags.

The Expository Lump START tag, with included problem definition:

Expository Lump Start Tag 2021 05 20 at 11 45 58 AM

And the Expository Lump END tag:EXPOSITORY LUMP END 2021 05 20 at 11 46 16 AM

I got good words today. They were important, and necessary — they allowed me to create an underlying part of the BIG conflict that runs through how this little town in Ohio got into world-alteringly enormous trouble, and exactly WHY this is the one place where that trouble started.

They can sit right where they are while I move back into writing scenes (which I actually did after I blocked of the Expository Lump).

In revision, however, I’ve got some work cut out for me.

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