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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“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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Tiptoeing through the minefield… and being mocked by my Muse

By Holly Lisle

I’d hoped to get 1200 words net today, but after a workday that started at six AM and included very little sleep the night before, I’m going to take what I got and go do things that don’t require so much brain.

What I got, though…

Holy Crap!

I found out something absolutely enormous about the over-all series villain today — something that pretty much rocked my world.

Funny thing is, though, that this discovery is one of the sort that is going to require absolutely NO revision to get it to fit into the earlier books.

I have from time to time mentioned that while I’m writing, my Muse (the non-verbal part of my brain where most of my best ideas come from) keeps secrets from me.

Some of them are minor. Some of them are kind of cute.

Today I met one of those secrets — And this one was EPIC.

More astonishingly, I have been writing important pieces of that particular secret into the novel from day one, never recognizing the actual meaning of what I was writing.

This wasn’t a little mike-drop moment for my Muse.

This was that wicked elf dropping the mike, flashing his ass, and laughing like a loon. It was, “Hahahahahah! Sucker! I’ve known this all along.”

(Why was my muse male today? Don’t know. It shifts.)

Anyway, while I probably got my 1250 or more in real words written, my net gain was only 846. But with the Muse revelation, which was awesome once I got over the shock… I’ll take it.

It was a good, good writing day.


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That RIGHT left turn in Albuquerque

By Holly Lisle

First, the word count. On Ohio 4 today, I got 1264 new words (out of my planned 1250…), and on Book 4, I now have 18,426 total.

This was, overall, an excellent writing day, in which stuff happened that I was not anticipating that was way better than the stuff I’d planned. My characters were in trouble, one of them was in terrible danger… and still is…

BUT this was not the day I’d planned. It was better… but in the same way that when Bugs Bunny popped out of the ground to discover that he wasn’t where he thought he’d be, he discovered he was on the moon. Or a beach with palm trees.

Someplace good.

I’m definitely not where I planned to be, but I am for damn sure someplace better. 

I set out to write five urban fantasy novels. 

I read a bunch of urban fantasy novels beforehand — some I really loved, and some I loathed… but I understood why each of them was urban fantasy, and what made them THAT…

And what I planned to write was that.

These novels are not that.

A simple left turn would have gotten me to urban fantasy.

But I turned some other way, and then a bunch of other ways after that. Up, down, in a spiral, then right, through a fourth dimension, up some stairs, left at a dragon, past the monk and through a nonexistent corridor that vanished behind me….

And here I am.

Whatever kind of fantasy I’m writing, it isn’t Urban Fantasy as defined by the state of the genre as it stands. Or ever stood.

It’s fantasy. Definitely fantasy.

And epic.

And contemporary… well.. contemporary-ish, with some bits that aren’t.

Beyond that, I don’t know.

I got the words, and I love the words… but I’ve just discovered have I no clue what to call these words, since I am not going where I thought I was going, I’m not writing in the genre I thought I was writing, and the core story is not behaving as I expected it to behave.

So… I’ll just keep writing, and when I wherever the hell I’m going — well, maybe when I get there, I’ll figure out what to call this.

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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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One more writing day left on Ohio Book 3 — 1552 words today, and 88,306 words total

By Holly Lisle

I am very pleased to report that the rethink on what had to happen to end Ohio Novel #3 worked.

Worked like crazy.

So did the revelation I had last night that I remembered to write down in my bullet journal yesterday, which was just this:

“B” tells “T” to carry the walking stick.

(Names disguised because all identifying details stay under wraps until the pseudonym goes live and the books are in print.)

But…

“B” tells “T” to carry the walking stick.

Is that a big nothing of a line, or what?

It doesn’t seem to have anything important in it. No promise, no wonder, no conflict… NOTHING.

And it didn’t have any promise to me last night when I wrote it down, except that my muse said, “Do it.” So I did it.

But this morning, it was magic. The final conflict in the story rolled out of that dumb line, wrapping into one solid scene a secret from a lost past, love of home and all its places, monsters and violence… and a couple of surprises I can’t even hint at…and it rolls perfectly into tomorrow’s work, which is to write the right scene to go before the LAST scene.

The last scene — my Book 3 Perfect Ending, is already written. It was a scene in the middle of the book that failed to fit or to mean much of anything until I saved it and just dragged it to the end of the book to save, where it revealed itself as THE RIGHT ENDING.

So… to sum up…

HOLY CRAP, today was amazing.

I’ll finish Book 3 tomorrow, and Friday, I’ll re-outline Book 4. (That might take more than just Friday, by the way.)

But, wow… my muse was on a roll last night.


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Wow! Monsters and spies and the anguish of immortality — 1315 words, and 89,746 total

By Holly Lisle

Tomorrow, I’m going to hit 90,000 words.

I still have eight unwritten chapters outlined, and I still have one character who is locked inside some deep trouble, and one whose real identity has not yet been discovered, and I’m writing toward the ending that’s already finished so at least that won’t go haywire…

But SHORT AND TIGHT isn’t working out for me right now.

I’m pretty sure I’ll have some things I can cut severely in the revision.

Right now, I just have to make sure I don’t leave out the essentials in the first draft.

Good writing day, where I had a lot of fun (though my main character most definitely did not… Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!).

Now to hit the last items on my list.


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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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Aliens and monsters make interesting employees… Ohio 3 — 1364 words, and 82,615 total

By Holly Lisle

Today brought a LOT of worldbuilding into the story — and since this is first draft, some of it may come out in the revision (when I read it for the second time, and perhaps see that I got a bit carried away).

But I loved the character interaction between my main character and the very special construction guy who added a new room to her attic. 

And I had a blast giving her little snippets and warnings about some as-yet-unmet employees she’s taking on. She never wanted employees, but one of her bigger problems in this novel (though not even remotely the biggest — lots of people and things trying to kill her is the biggest) has been making enough money to keep herself fed and to keep her inherited business running.

She’s acquired the means now to a very good source of revenue.

And some ENORMOUS liabilities. 

I got to laugh wickedly while writing, to cackle evilly, and in the end, to set into motion a time bomb that I have to set off by book five.

God, I love this job.


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Up early, with a fun scene that flew — 1319 new words, and 79,749 total on Book 3

By Holly Lisle

I’m getting close to the end of the third book.

At the moment, things are going right for my main character… and days like that are fun to write.

However, all the rightness is leading up to things going wrong for my main character in ways she cannot yet even imagine.

I have a grin on my face typing this, because I can imagine… 

And she’s about to take on a whole horde of the most difficult employees in history. 

They are the stuff of legend — and so are their moments of … impossible-ness.

And I get watch them in action while I write them.

I’m so happy.


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