Words went well, bad things happened…

By Holly Lisle

And once again, I loved what I got.

My poor, poor characters…

And I got 1351 words, and am now at 68,056 — and the villains in town have just done something really interesting, and my MC just got to see the first tip of a brand new iceberg…

But I now have to go work on the massive overhaul of the HollysWritingClasses.com site.

My moderators and I are rebuilding the whole thing (offsite, of course). I’m estimating that it’ll take us between two and four months to get the whole thing overhauled.

It will, however, be spiff as hell when it’s done.


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Today — the tedium of drudge work

By Holly Lisle

I had to move all the line-for-scene Sentences for books four and five into their Scrivener sections — the pre-built thirty-chapter manuscripts I set up for all five books when I started this project.

So now the books are outlined, the manuscripts are ready to go…

And Monday I’ll get back to the words.

It was a tedious morning. But it doesn’t have to be repeated for this series.


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Today I studied the map, asked WHY… made good progress on OUTLINE 5… figured out why YESTERDAY crashed…

By Holly Lisle

Can’t say today was easy. I walked in circles (literally) because pacing helps me generate ideas, talked to myself out loud to ask important questions, looked at my map and drew a few circles on it to identify story issues…

And then I went back to the line-for-scene outline and managed to come up with eleven line-for-scene sentences, a MASSIVE conflict I’d forgotten to consider while pushing for the series end, and now not only do I love the new direction the series takes in the final novel…

But I cannot wait to write the damn thing.

Could stuff in BOOK 4 break things in the final outline between now and then?

Sure.

Could I hit some sort of wall tomorrow while figuring out the remaining eleven LFS sentences?

Oh, most certainly.

But there are solid principles to storytelling that I follow… and if I don’t end up using what I have now, it will only because I have something that is provably better.

 

About the Tuesday Crash…

I forgot that I hadn’t had any food since Sunday at about 7 p.m.

It’s a mostly regular intermittent fasting thing we do — one meal a day Tuesday through Sunday, then don’t eat again until Tuesday at around 7 p.m.

And mostly that works just fine. Sometimes, though, I get a little hungry by Tuesday morning, and instincts kick in that send me in search of food: BODY gets up and walks to the fridge or to the cashew can, BRAIN grabs body, turns it around, and sits it back at the desk, BODY waits until brain is engaged in though (so not paying attention) and walks over to the damn fridge again…

That, with multiple repetitions, was Tuesday.

Tomorrow, I have eleven more Line-For-Scene Sentences to go to finish the Book 5 outline.

So — this is within reach… and I should be back to writing Book Four on either Friday or Monday.

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


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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Business Only day: No words, no progress…

By Holly Lisle

Today turned, though no fault of its own, into a necessary business day. 

Writing fiction is a business… but so is life. And from time to time, the ‘life’ stuff has to come first.

And I’d let a lot of that pile up, and when you do that, you then have to deal with the pile.

So. Pile Dealt.

Tomorrow, the path is clear for fiction again.


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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


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


Good wordcount, a good concept… but, jury duty willing, tomorrow I’ll be doing a fair amount of fixing

By Holly Lisle

Yesterday’s jury duty message was, boiled down, “Call again today.” So at 5:30 tonight, I’ll find out whether I’ll be working tomorrow or not.

Meanwhile, instead of my daily short fast (from the night before until around 4 or 5 PM, when I eat my daily meal) — I’m doing a long fast.

For folks familiar with intermittent fasting, my daily eating-to-fasting ratio is anything from 1:23 to 3:21. And some weekends are “any hours if it’s keto”.

But this week, my last food was Sunday evening. And I will have my next food on Wednesday at around five or six PM (or whatever time I leave the courthouse, if there is a session and if the day’s work runs longer than that).

Meanwhile, I’m a bit — skittery. A bit predatory.

I’ve learned that when you fast, after a couple days your body starts ramping up energy, pushing you to get up and move, to go out and hunt things, to find something tasty and kill it because you need to feed the fat stores — because those stores are the stuff you’re suddenly running on exclusively.

Fasting is very, very good for those of us who at one time had cancers fed by blood glucose — and being down about two thirds of the right side of my tongue to remove a lot of dysplasia and a tiny bit of cancer, and thinking I might prefer to hang on to the rest of my tongue, I eat very few carbs.

Carbs raise your blood sugar, blood sugar feeds susceptible cancers — and tongue surgery after the anesthesia wears off hurts about a hundred times worse that wide-awake no-medications-not-even-Tylenol childbirth. I’ve done both.

Anyway. 

I got 1446 words, and met the character I needed to meet today, and she’s talking to me from her point of origin — but the voice I originally had for her is wrong. I’ll be able to keep a lot of today’s words, but my start tomorrow — if I’m here writing — will be to read through from the point where she starts speaking and bring the first bits of voice up to the stuff I got toward the end that is better.

If I don’t… well, she’ll wait.

I’ve met her now. I like her. And introducing her to my MC before the event that happens on (book time, not real time) Friday before the concert is going to be interesting.

The words weren’t perfect. But they were good enough to take me where I need to go.


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1281 words, the start of chapter three, and we’re deep in the muck now!

By Holly Lisle

Today the words just flew. I was late getting started, and I’m still done with the fiction before 11 AM!

Which is fortunate, because I have a lot of NOT fiction I have to deal with today. But I got my words first, and I love what I got.

My MC got the proof that the corpse was murdered — this is not a spoiler, so I can happily state that. The spoiler would be why… which she doesn’t know yet, but I mostly do.

And the town’s ambient magic, and the folks who know how to use it for evil, are involved. Again — not a spoiler.

But to be able to live in the mundane version of the place I’m writing, to be able to use my existing house as one of the settings, to be able to get all the plants and animals and folks right because I’m actually living here and writing here (or at least a version of “here” that never was, and never could be) is a daily joy.

Off now to deal with the much less delightful “other stuff.”


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Mystery character D- became S- today as I got to know her better: 1330 words, and a good, solid scene

By Holly Lisle

Folks show up when you’re writing, and audition for parts, and as you start writing them, you don’t know whether you’re wasting every word that includes them, or whether they’re going to make your story better. 

You haven’t planned them. You have no idea who they really are, or how they fit into your story — but in the immediate moment, you give them names and let them run with the solution to the problem you’re having at right then… and you hope for the best.

Sometimes they turn out to be disasters, and sometimes you only realize deep in the middle of the book — when they’ve broken everything you’ve planned and have not replaced it with anything better. (As with my novel originally titled Closer to Chaos, which was published as The Wreck of Heaven after it nearly wrecked ME.)

Sometimes, however, you realize these volunteers are people you loved who are long dead — memories summoned from your childhood to carry a little bit of the book for you, and maybe do something meaningful in your world.

The character who showed up yesterday as as D- turned out to be an avatar of a beloved aunt of mine, changed in almost every way except for the quality of her character as a human being. And S- was the name the character, once I got to know her better today, picked for herself.

My aunt was wonderful, and I miss her terribly. And now she, as someone almost entirely new, has at least a small part in this story.


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