DTD — 391, and Seven Bodies

Had a massive revelation this morning; my male protagonist and one of my secondary characters have to be compressed into one character. This was huge. It was the other answer to an ongoing pacing problem I’ve been sensing as I wrote.

And the difference it made when I worked on the outline again tonight was just incredible. Suddenly everybody has a purpose, every scene has multiple conflicts, and all sorts of layers have popped up because of the connections each of the two original characters had.

Writing was not huge wordcount-wise, but the book starts with seven young women dead in a building, and a man among the looky-loos who A) knows why they did what they did, and B) is pissed because there were only seven, not nine…and now he’s got to do damage control.

I’m pretty happy with what I got.

You?

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

50 comments… add one
  • Roo Aug 3, 2009 @ 23:48

    I keep feeling like I’m a thread behind. But anyway –

    10X word quota and the section is FINISHED. Wooot!

    2 to go.

    (I babble because I tire.)

  • SCBrazil Aug 3, 2009 @ 22:58

    I already posted on this thread. But that was number two post very late last night so it’s another day for me and what the hell, I’m on a roll.
    I moved out of planning today and, knowing where things are going, it just ripped off my fingers. Writing scenes becomes an exercise in absorption and a real pleasure when I’m not wondering and worrying ‘what next?’
    I did my mandatory 250 in ten minutes and eked it up to 1,800 during the rest of the day. I also got in a walk on the beach, a trip to the dentist and food.
    It’s not right yet but at least it’s written.

  • ceecee Aug 3, 2009 @ 22:15

    Had a good first day of the writing week. Got 1400 words and managed to find out how my MC got her hands dyed red. It’s either that or she’s going to be hanged and I like her too much to bump her off just yet. (I might think differently when I’m closer to 50 K and she’s dragging her feet.) Meantime, she’s going to have to think of a way to stay off the gallows and get back on the road. I’ve been struggling with this scene but Muse insists I keep it. It seems Muse likes the color red and getting people in jeopardy.

  • Don Aug 3, 2009 @ 21:06

    413 low word cound today I got a late start I’m doing a re-fi on my condo, and had to go over allot of stuff with my lender. Making progress I need to cut some stuff, working on a scene that has troubled me then I can move on.

  • Stormlyht Aug 3, 2009 @ 18:43

    Okay, spent 2 hours yesterday editing section 2, adding a ton of words and making everything seem to flow much better. It actually seems like something I wrote now, instead of something I sneezed out one day. Today I added scenes to it, deleted scenes to be used later, and left the thing at an actual (I’m hoping) cliffhanger! Woot, go me! Yay. *sigh* So, I feel better about it overall, and a little sorry for the people reading it, since they’re not going to get the resolution to this cliffhanger for a few sections. Poor people. 939 words today, not including edits made.

  • Danielle Aug 3, 2009 @ 18:18

    I watched a show I recorded about Troy, and it mentioned bits about the historicity of the city itself. So I did a bit of digging, and discovered that Troy VIIa, the proposed battlefield of the Iliad, is the remains of a Hittite/ Luwian city called Wilusa, and that there was a king of that city named Alaksandu. Which got me thinking… since my Atlantaeans are descended from the Trojans in another story I want to do, and I really want to pursue this Hittite idea… I need to rethink my Atlantaeans. A lot. Better yet, I need to write this in chronological order.

    Practical upshot is, I’m keeping what I have on my WIP, setting it aside for a bit, and doing this right.

    *sigh* This storyline is going to be the death of me. I feel so unorganized.

  • Dena C. Aug 3, 2009 @ 17:43

    468 for me today (Monday). I didn’t write on Sunday as I went away for the day with my parents and my daughter. I’m on vacation from the day job again this week, and I’m using the time to catch up on things around the house. I’m writing a little bit when I get the chance, but I’m not sweating getting the big word counts this week. It’ll be slow and steady for me.

  • Minze Aug 3, 2009 @ 15:55

    491 words. I realized I need at least three more scenes before I get to the next (pre-planned) plot card. Tonight I wrote a brief scene that seemed the most fun right now.

  • Treelight Aug 3, 2009 @ 15:00

    I started the new writing-week with 323 words, and I hope I can manage to do 5 days this time.
    I’m still having a bit of a hard time to move the story onwards, and I think this is mostly because it’s a bit boring right now.

  • The Pencil Neck Aug 3, 2009 @ 13:22

    454.

    This will be my last night staying in India. I’ll leave tomorrow night… at 2:00 am… who schedules these things? So it was a long work day today. I went to work around 8 and got back to the room at around 7:45. I considered just reading tonight but my computer kept whispering to me.

    So… now I’m not sure if this finished the scene or not.

    The sheriff entered a nobleman’s mansion and found him bloody on the floor. Before passing out, the nobleman whispered a name. The name of a known crank magician. Now, I’ve got a decision, do I let him pass out there or do I get him to tell my sheriff to WARN the magician. Do I let my sheriff think the magician is the one who tortured this guy ? (He wasn’t.) Or do I make him think the magician isn’t evil? (He is.)

    • Holly Lisle Aug 3, 2009 @ 13:29

      Interesting. Which path will screw up your hero’s life the most, and cause the most destruction in the meantime? Whichever one it is, that’s the one you want.

      Good luck.

  • Anna Aug 3, 2009 @ 12:58

    I got 430. Not bad for a day off yesterday. Now if I could just buckle down and focus on today’s work…

  • Jessica Aug 3, 2009 @ 11:36

    470 which brings me to 20145 total.
    FMC revisists a nightmare of how her fiance died, adding pieces to the puzzle. And meanwhile, the army’s putsch is about to take over all communication lines.
    I like what I’ve got but it feels like I’m missing something… another twist? I wonder if I’ve given away too much too soon.

    • Holly Lisle Aug 3, 2009 @ 13:31

      You might have missed a twist. You might have revealed too much to start with.

      Doesn’t matter. This is first draft. Let your mind relax, and just ask yourself how to do the best scene you can. At the point where your mind offers up suggestions on what you missed to begin with, make a note of them, and from that point, keep writing the rest of the book as if you’d gotten the first part right.

      That way, you have less to fix when you go back to write your revision.

      • ceecee Aug 3, 2009 @ 22:24

        Holly–I appreciate the idea about letting my mind relax and allowing things to come. I have a hard time trusting myself (&/or Muse) even in the early stages of writing and need the reminder that this is the part where all the good alchemy begins. My by-word for the day: Unclench.

  • Cat (from HtTS) Aug 3, 2009 @ 11:31

    1168 and two more days till school starts. Am I looking forward to that or what?

  • Lisa R Aug 3, 2009 @ 10:10

    701 words for the novel and 183 words for my other project. Considering I had a horrid afternoon at work, I am very happy with my word count. I also concentrated on using action verbs, so the words carried the story forward with more zest.

  • Belle Aug 3, 2009 @ 8:55

    Can’t believe it, I wrote 2229 words on Pedestal. I got through my initial planning and am starting to really like my characters. I can’t wait to write some of them. Anyone have a suggestion on something like Scrivener for Windows?

    • Jessica Aug 3, 2009 @ 12:29

      Some of us had this conversation a few days (week?) ago.
      YWriter and Liquid Binder were the two discussed, though I’m sure there are others. And someone mentioned White Smoke but I’ve never heard/used it before. If you do a google search on them you’ll be able to find out more on each.

    • The Pencil Neck Aug 3, 2009 @ 13:25

      I’m a Liquid Story Binder proponent. But if you try it, be sure to read through the tutorials. It’s not entirely intuitive. At least it wasn’t for me. I gave up on it pretty quick the first time I downloaded it. I used yWriter for a long time before giving Liquid Story Binder another shot.

      Now I’m all about LSB. 🙂

    • Holly Lisle Aug 3, 2009 @ 13:28

      Hot DAMN! I know you’ve been struggling. Great to see a breakthrough. Congratulations!

      • Belle Aug 3, 2009 @ 15:21

        Thanks, for repeating the software discussion. It is hard to keep up with the threads here. I will try them.

        Thanks, Holly, for recognizing my name and the struggles. This last week and especially over the weekend, I worked through the Discipline/System articles you wrote then the Mini-Plot course. That, Mugging the Muse and Book Math got me on a productive track that does not feel like a dead end. I really appreciate you putting your lessons learned out there for others to learn from. I have taken numerous classes and NONE of them were this practical or productive. Thanks … more words on the way !!!

  • Kait Nolan Aug 3, 2009 @ 8:34

    Didn’t get anything added to my regular WIP over the weekend, but I did get 10 scenes planned and over a thousand words of notes on a future project written down. When the ideas come that clearly, I have to get them down so I don’t forget.

  • Leah Aug 3, 2009 @ 7:43

    Only 100 words today, but some plotting and scene restructuring done. Huge. Will move story forward, and reveal a huge flaw in my hero.

  • Debora Aug 3, 2009 @ 7:41

    Got to love those massive revelations, Holly. It also helps to know that all the planning in the world cannot predict the direction your WIP will take. I used to be a planner and a plodder. I would do everything but the writing. Now suddenly I’ve become a seat of the pantser. Who’d a thought it?

    671 words yesterday.

  • Khena Aug 3, 2009 @ 7:21

    1246 for yesterday, and 911 for the day before. Things are finally starting to pick up again, and I know exactly what I’m going to do to finish up the scene I’m in.

  • Brian P. Aug 3, 2009 @ 3:56

    No words today. I spent the day hanging out with friends before my cross-country move in a week. I need to add some details to scene 3, then on to scene 4 and the repercussions of my story’s change in direction. I seem to have lost one character and gained a new one – perhaps their order of appearance will simply be altered…

    • Brian P. Aug 3, 2009 @ 4:09

      I have to say this, as well. Holly, I can not even begin to tell you what a great inspiration you have been to me. Not just this writing a book with you, but the workshops I have bought from you. I’m still waiting until I can afford to get the scene writing workshop and definitely want to take the Think Sideways course. But knowing that you have written as much as you have and still struggle with (and find solutions to) the same type of problems I have in my writing. I did something this week that I have never done in the 20 years i have been attempting to write a novel – my story changed and I didn’t rail against it or abandon the project. I went with the flow and am thinking ahead on how the whole story will need to change. I am very happy with and very proud of myself. I know I’ve just started, but I feel like I might actually be able to do this. For that, i just wanted to say: Thank you. Long post, I know, but if I succeed in this endeavor, I will owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you, again!

      • Holly Lisle Aug 3, 2009 @ 13:27

        Discovering that it doesn’t have to be perfect, or even good, the first time through frees your mind to figure out how to take the rough start and make it freakin’ awesome the second time around.

        I’m cheering your discovery.

  • megan Aug 3, 2009 @ 3:47

    Really cool Holly, love to see what else happens. Me? Well inbewtween school I mananged to organise some notes, write a couple of sentences and get another idea, so small progress but progress all the same

  • Lucca Aug 3, 2009 @ 3:44

    Wow! THAT is starting with a bang… making me think how bleak (or not) is my opening scene?

  • Scarlett Aug 3, 2009 @ 3:03

    Hi everyone, back from holiday now and sitting in bed writing whilst the children are still asleep. Managed 682 words so far this am. Maybe will manage more later. We’ll see. So far am happy I have managed something.

    • Scarlett Aug 3, 2009 @ 7:53

      The children went next door to play in our neighbours pool so managed another 1403 words – fanastic! Pleased with myself now as have the next chapter coming together in my head too.
      Holly if you have the time I have a question: At the moment I think I am halfway through this novel and have ideas for others popping into my brain all the time and feel impatient that I cant get on with those too. Does this happen to you, or anyone else for that matter, and if so what do you do about it?

      • Cat (from HtTS) Aug 3, 2009 @ 9:44

        It happens all the time. You can a) either jot them down on a piece of paper or in a virtual document and file it for later use (some of the HtTS-students do it that way) or b) you can push it back to you Muse. Tell her that you’ll look at that idea as soon as the WIP is done and that she can play around with it some more (it’s the way Holly does it). If the idea is truly good it will resurface at an appropriate time.

        Personally, I use a mixture of both. I write down some details and then tell my Muse to keep playing because I’m busy. It works for me. I’m never short on ideas.

      • Nancy Aug 3, 2009 @ 11:19

        Scarlett — That’s such a familiar scenario for me. My Inner Critic’s favorite tactic is to throw a bunch of seemingly fabulous new novel ideas at me while I’m in the Dreaded Middle of my current WIP. I used to give in and abandon one project for the “new” idea. (I think of it as kind of like being addicted to falling in love — the excitement, the potential, the thrill of discovery). Problem was, nothing ever got finished, because the new idea would become the old idea and I’d find something else new to fall in love with.

        What helps me now is to scribble down the new idea(s), just enough to remind me of the flavor of them so I can recreate the feeling when the time comes to work on them, then find a way to make my current WIP more exciting for me (this technique is, natch, thanks to Holly). And I also send my Inner Critic back to Bermuda, where she belongs when I’m creating. (I used to chain her up, but then she’d get all surly on me and wouldn’t come to the table when editing time came round. So now I send her on a luxury holiday, and she comes back all refreshed and less monstrous.)

        Good luck!

      • Holly Lisle Aug 3, 2009 @ 13:24

        Yeah, it happens to me.

        I used to keep a notebook and write everything down in it. I’ve since discovered that the really good ideas will still be crawling up and down my spine when I finish this book…or the one after it. And the ones that weren’t so good will go away and bother me no more.

        This is a good system. To make it work, you have to only understand that you will be coming up with ideas for the rest of your life…you don’t get just a handful.

        Trust yourself to learn from the process of writing, and understand that the good ideas you get now will not be as good as the good ideas you’ll get when you’re an even better writer, and you’ll stop panicking that you’ll lose the “ONE” good idea that you’ll never get back.

        • Scarlett Aug 3, 2009 @ 13:49

          Great responses thanks everyone. I think it’s having had a holiday that’s done it! Soon as I have even a second of relaxation time ideas pop up everywhere and sometimes I feel I havent got enough life left to fit it all in (in a good way!) I will plough on with the current WIP because I hate to give up and I’m loving it. The other ideas will as you all say have to wait their turn.

  • Brian Cansler Aug 3, 2009 @ 2:44

    Holly, you know what I love and hate about your posts lately? They make me want to read DTD NOW! I can’t wait more than three years for this story! It sounds so good!

    I am re-plotting using the depth I found the other night. I took all 60 scenes from my original plot and edited that to get the first 30 of my much-longer novel. This is going to be long.

    Holly, what if I can’t tell the story in around 130,000 words or less? You’ve said before that that’s about the upper limit for first-time novels to be sold. What happens if I just can’t compress it and still tell the story right? Do I cut stuff, do I split it into two stories, or do I plod along? Or a third option?

    • Holly Lisle Aug 3, 2009 @ 13:20

      You write the book you have to write. You don’t sweat word length in first draft—you just write it.

      Then you go through and edit it, tossing what you know doesn’t add to the story, keeping what does, and adding in things you would have written the first time through if you had whatever magic it is that would allow someone to know how the book needs to come out at the beginning of first draft.

      When you’re done, THEN you worry about word length, and what to do with the manuscript. Right now, you’re way too early in the process to be sweating marketability. By the time you get to the point of being ready to send the thing out, big books may be in fashion again.

      And yeah, it is a fashion. You can chase fashion, or you can write the best book you have in you, and then stand by it. You can’t do both.

      • Debora Aug 4, 2009 @ 7:38

        >>>You write the book you have to write. You don’t sweat word length in first draft—you just write it.<<<

        Thank you, Holly. Again. This is what I keep telling myself. I just keep writing. I have stopped second-guessing myself. I know my first draft is going to run long. My narrator has a lot to say and some extremely intense experiences ahead of her. I'd rather spend some time really getting to know my narrator before I hit those intense scenes. I want her to keep talking to me. I don't want to insult her by attempting to judge prematurely whether what she has to tell me *now* will ultimately be of relevance. I just want her to keep talking to me.

        So thank you again, Holly, for these words of encouragement. And thank you, Brian, for having asked the right question!

  • Ieva Aug 3, 2009 @ 1:11

    Wow, Holly. That sounds pretty… impressive.
    Out of curiosity, what are you going to do now? Edit this Big Sweeping Change in, write additional back-scenes, or keep plodding forward? (I know it sounds like a trick question, but you’ve been moving things around a lot.)

    200+ yesterday to finish my weekly goal. But I also finished one first draft of a story and made final (sorta) edits in another, so it’s OK.

    • Holly Lisle Aug 3, 2009 @ 13:18

      Here’s my process.

      I’m going to write all the new scenes—they’re at the front of the book, but they’re at the center of my plotting process, so I can be pretty sure most of what I get for them will be ‘keeper’ material.

      I’ll then read through the 30K of existing words, and just make rough notes on what stays and what goes. I won’t do any write-in editing—I’ll just figure out where I went wrong and what I’ll need to do to make the middle fit.

      I’ll then move on to the remaining index cards, and rip through those, figuring out what stays, what goes, and what new stuff needs to move in.

      Finally, I’ll write the rest of the first draft.

      • Ieva Aug 4, 2009 @ 1:02

        Thanks! This figures.

        Btw, only when I started really editing my stories (changing things that I thought were essential but didn’t actually work) I realized that lots of things can, actually, stay instead of being thrown out. That was very reassuring.

  • Brent B. Aug 3, 2009 @ 1:09

    712,

    [Deep inside his body, a feeling torques into a grotesque, distorted emotion, shriveling and winding, tighter and tighter. Shaking, tighter, shaking. Tight.
    Stops.
    It breaks – a tiny million emotional fragments explode inside him and roll down . . . like the shattering bones of a collapsing mountain . . . whisperings of a broken stone.
    “It’s okay. Forget it for now. We’ll work on it at home.”
    He misunderstands. Working on it is nowhere in his mind. He heaves the sword back.
    “What are you doing?”
    He sends the first grandfather’s sword flying over the edge. It falls into the abyss. The whisperings fall with it. Until only silence fills Ralon pass.]

    My MC expresses his pain the only way he knows how – he does something stupid, and chunks a priceless two thousand year old family heirloom into a deep abyss. He’s gonna be reaping the repercussions of that for some time to come, I’m afraid.

  • Julia GD Aug 3, 2009 @ 0:26

    3733 words since yesterday. I am pretty tired but I promised myself to finish this chapter. Then I can move to my planned “candy” scene where my female protagonist is making her first mistake, thinking she could find her way through the forest 🙂 Oh, yes, there will be blood and flying gargoyles!

  • Clare K. R. Miller Aug 3, 2009 @ 0:26

    655 words today. Mostly, the male MC musing on the female MC, how much he loves her, and how completely crazy he is.

  • Larkk Aug 3, 2009 @ 0:11

    Started by writing some back story, which turned into yet another overview of what is happening in the novel. The words flew though, all the way to the end, so I didn’t stop them, and my jaw dropped when I saw my word total of 3641! Yes, I was happy, and yes, I ate chocolate !
    So maybe having a tighter summary of the end will be helpful, I was meaning to do that anyway. I just might be able to finish this thing yet.

  • SCBrazil Aug 2, 2009 @ 23:54

    My weekend was similar. I got hit on the head by what the MC wants and what drives him forwards.
    It all felt kinda empty until now as he was just so damn straight as what he has to do is noble enough but there was no internal conflict that stopped him from doing it. Now I know what pisses him off and where he wants to go.
    My pace is slow but I like to know where I am going otherwise I know I give up.

  • Nancy Aug 2, 2009 @ 23:47

    685 for today. It was my 2nd tier villain’s turn and he’s been chafing at the bit for days for screen time. The words just tumbled out and I’m really happy with the twist that the scene generated. Wheels within wheels and right now they’re all turning.

    I’ll be travelling on business for the next three days. Have no idea what my schedule will be like, but my plan now is to at least find an hour at the end of the day (not my best writing time, but it may be all I have). Also have no idea if my hotel will have free internet connection. If not, I’ll catch up with you all on Thursday.

    Happy writing!

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