DTD — 437 words, and the spread of nightmare

My hero, stuck in his police station with a map and push-pins (he likes low-tech), is finding evidence that the monsters he hunts have been active in his area far longer than he suspected. He has no idea yet where they are … that’ll have to wait until my MC brings them down on her head with an unfortunate acceptance of a teaching opportunity still a bit down the road from now.

I’m writing thin—getting the broad strokes of the story down, but leaving the scenes themselves sparse and lacking in telling detail. I can always feel that when I do it—I’m just not bothering to go back in and do the detail work yet. Details are nice revision additions.

Anyway…

How are your words coming along?

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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.

47 comments… add one
  • Sarah Collins Aug 14, 2009 @ 20:33

    No words for me Thursday. I actually went to bed early with a headache and a book. I finished 100 pages of one book, read the last two chapters to finish #2 for the night, and then read a third (260 pages) from cover to cover. Only when I put it down and still couldn’t sleep did it occur to me that I could have finished the novel I’m writing in the time I spend reading last night, LOL. (No exaggeration!) Lucky for me, all five kids slept late (even the 2yo and 3yo). I was the first one up at 9:20. I love life without alarm clocks!

  • SCBrazil Aug 14, 2009 @ 20:27

    I kinda hit a brickwall.
    This thing is more complex than I had at first imagined. I need to introduce a new MC and she has a whole history that must also be woven into place. It’s like playing chess against Kasparov – the ramifications of everything she is and wants will reflect 8 moves/chapters down the line. If she is this, then that or the other may happen. If it is this, then I must have that, if it is the other…arggh.
    Do you guys go through the same thing?
    I will spend this weekend back at the drawing board although I do not like planning. I enjoy writing so I’ll be as brief as possible. Hopefully no Samba this weekend.
    All that said, I am happy this book has taken on a new dimension. One which, if I can pull it off, will improve it by an ocean’s breadth.
    But my head is throbbing right now. I just want to get back to blind Hector who, when I left him, had regained his sight after thirteen years of blindness. His one wish was to go and look at his ten year old daughter’s face but found himself being ushered in the other direction by two heavies.
    Hang on Hector, I’ll be with you as soon as I can.
    Have a great weekend everyone.

    • The Pencil Neck Aug 17, 2009 @ 11:07

      First off, I love the Kasparov reference.

      Second, yes. I think we all go through this to some degree or another and in various ways. I think the best thing to do is to make notes about what you think would have to change in the stuff you’ve already written but don’t go back and write it. You can go back and write new scenes but don’t worry about going back and revising yet. Just continue writing from the point you’re at and write it as though you’ve already rewritten those old scenes. Then when you get into the revision stage, fix everything.

      In my current project, I had the whole thing written and I was 3/4’s of the way through the first revision before I realized I had the exact opposite of your problem. I had jammed a couple of stories together and I needed to REMOVE a character and all his plot lines and most of the characters in those plot lines. Teasing those stories apart was/is time consuming. I actually gave it up and started writing another story until I reached the point where my muse came back to me with an idea on how to separate everything.

      Anyway, good luck and good writing!

  • Gabby Aug 14, 2009 @ 19:59

    I’m getting really worried that WIP is boring. It seems fine when I reread it, it seems to catch me up in the little quirks and stuff that happens. Bit I’m biased. I’ve tried to make sure that in every scene, I’m sharing something new, having some piece of character development or backstory and some bit of conflict. So far it’s 30 pgs but in story time it’s only over about 30hrs that’s leading up to an event that will end the beginning section. I don’t know, I don’t know.

    OK, I figured out my question. How do you know if you’re pacing the story fast enough or if it’s too slow? If anyone has any rule of thumb about it that would be great. It’s killing me to wait until I’ve got 130,000 words and then find out I need to throw out whole sections of the beginning and add stuff to the end or something.

  • Jamie D. Aug 14, 2009 @ 18:30

    Was so exhausted last night, I forgot to post my progress. I got a whopping 420 words done, it was just flowing that well. I love dialogue.

    I’m hoping to take some time and plot the rest of my major scenes out tomorrow. I still haven’t done that, and I really want to.

  • Lindsay Aug 14, 2009 @ 17:44

    Sadly didn’t get any words in yesterday. Was packing and moving more things into the garage for my move back to college tomorrow. And then went with my mom to go shopping for new tennis shoes and bowling shorts. Then I rented movies, ha. I did start working this morning on character profiles so I had them down for later. Plan on writing tonight!

  • Minze Aug 14, 2009 @ 16:34

    557 words yesterday and 362 words today. Perhaps I shouldn’t try to write with blocked sinuses, because that scene turned out to be really, really weird. I’m leaving it as it is, though. We’ll see what my Muse does with it.

  • laurel Aug 14, 2009 @ 16:25

    Today I am world building.

  • Julie Aug 14, 2009 @ 16:13

    Back after a bit of a break (had lots of horrible dental stuff done and then a dodgy internet!).

    The total word count for the new draft of my children’s horse story is now at 5,040, which means I managed to get out 3,130 in the break. Not as much as I’d have liked, but more than I thought it would be and I’m edging closer to the finish line. πŸ™‚

    Congratulations to everyone on your progress x

  • Scarlett Aug 14, 2009 @ 13:09

    Thanks for your encouragement Holly, I will plough on! 1900 words today so on track

  • Stormlyht Aug 14, 2009 @ 12:09

    Well, I told myself I was going to write for an hour today, and I did. 2215 words later and my princess has confronted her betrothed about going to war with him, which he turns down, twice. Now she has boys clothes that she sent her maid out for and is about to cut off her beyond waist length hair in order to run out and join her betrothed’s army. Looking forward to getting to that part. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get this out without making her fiance seem like an ass, but I think I’ve done a good job of showing that she is impatient and unwilling to wait for him to make up his mind about her going with him. His army is female-less, and her own country is used to women in the military so it’s a clash of beliefs. Well, and she’s also headstrong. πŸ˜‰ Feel good about what I’ve got, going to head out and into my other project. Hoping for some good editing on it today.

  • Michelle Aug 14, 2009 @ 11:29

    356 for me today. A little bit of eavesdropping thanks to an acoustically odd fountain. Fun stuff.

    Sarah, congrats on the MacBook! I LOVE my mac. I use StoryMill- I hadn’t heard of Scrivener when I got it, though it looks amazing too. Enjoy! πŸ™‚

  • Jessica Aug 14, 2009 @ 11:07

    110. OK. Started a new scene – that was not previously planned – because the muse was inspired by something, but then I got interrupted and by the time I got back to it I couldn’t remember where it was supposed to go.
    So far this morning though, I’m making progress again and at an estimate I’ve already blown past double that so I’m happy and writing back towards the pre-plotted road. (It’s a good addition so it stays.)

    Holly, I’m just a little curious. How do you write the scene but leave out the details?

  • Mikaela Aug 14, 2009 @ 10:54

    2200. (!). I reached 10 K on the draft. Yay! Now I am pretty tired though.
    Unfortunately, I’ll be to busy to get any writing done until next weekend. πŸ™ I can always think about writing though.

  • Shawn Aug 14, 2009 @ 10:36

    I’m back writing again as of this morning. 325 words. I think I’ve been writing as Holly described. My scenes are spare and just try to catch the essence of the story for now. Anyway, I wrote the very last scene of the novel today. I actually like it. Sure, it could use some more description, but I actually like it.

  • Patricia Aug 14, 2009 @ 10:11

    1,598 words last night, then forced myself to stop (and Ryan to shut up) because I had to get up at six this morning and it was almost midnight. Anyway, I found out a bit more about one of the creatures Ryan lives with (They don’t have a name yet), and Ryan escapes! He’s just now starting to realize how stupid it is to just run off in the middle of nowhere, and what is he going to do to find water in the middle of the African Savannah?

  • Jim Mitchel Aug 14, 2009 @ 9:37

    Chapter 7.

    A dishonored warrior shouted a battle cry laced with anger and fear. Swords and battleaxes sliced and pierced the burned fur and flesh of the nightmare creature. And yet, it still lives!

    Word count for today: 562

  • Kait Nolan Aug 14, 2009 @ 8:42

    Yeah I’ve been doing the writing thin thing too and it’s driving me nuts. But I’ve been trying to prove a point to myself with this WIP–that I can get all the way through a first draft without going back to revise as I go. Yesterday was a near thing, but I snuck in barely over the wire with 502 words. I have about decided that from this point forward (the last third or so of the book), is going to be like pulling teeth. I know what happens, but it’s getting hard to write. I’ve past that Pre Fault Period with my date and now I’m starting to see all the flaws (which can be fixed in revisions), and I’m having a hard time looking past them at the moment.

    • Gabby Aug 14, 2009 @ 19:11

      What does “Pre Fault Period with my date” mean?

  • Khena Aug 14, 2009 @ 8:06

    Yesterday was a good day! I finally finished the scene I had been struggling with since I figured out what was wrong, amazing how that happens. After finishing up the scene, I took a little break and took my kids to the State Fair and fed them horrible foods for supper. They had a great time, and after 4 hours wandering around in the heat, the passed out in bed and I got back to work. Added two new scenes to the next chapter plan, and started the next scene where my MC’s find a member of the banished peoples, who refuses to let them enter his domain. They have to enter, but who wants to argue with an armed centaur towering over you?

  • Rabia Aug 14, 2009 @ 7:59

    No words last night. I finished reading a book, instead, and went to bed.

  • Larkk Aug 14, 2009 @ 7:31

    494 words and found out I may want to add more conflict to this scene. Yet another attempt on my hero’s life?
    Read the One Pass Revision segment, and the free section of the Create a Plot Workshop. This should be extremely helpful, and is funny and easy to understand. I’ll be back for more. Thank you for writing them!

  • Dawn K. Aug 14, 2009 @ 7:30

    Wow, 1,655 words yesterday and I had thought I’d been slacking. I wrote a lot more than I knew. Now there’s a great first scene in which Mailen nearly drowns. I also added a scene with a younger N’tal invited to an important social event. The King is just about to give him a promotion he doesn’t really want, but if he turns it down he will be separated from his love.

    • Gabby Aug 14, 2009 @ 19:10

      What a great beginning. It sounds like flipping your MC around to a spy has really worked for you.

  • Debora Aug 14, 2009 @ 7:11

    280 words Wednesday. No words Thursday. I need to take a little time off. I have a backlog of primary sources I want to read, plus battlewalks to watch, all of which will contribute immeasurably to my understanding of the civil war time period. Also hoping to find a better title for my WIP — I haven’t found one I like yet, and it’s bothering me.

    Last but not least, I want to take time to write out my answers to the questions posed by Holly in her latest writing craft installments.

    Today Walt Whitman’s civil war poetry and prose, I cannot think of a better companion!

  • Rob Aug 14, 2009 @ 6:51

    Forced to take some time off the book because of the Dreaded Day Job. The good news is, I left the story at a strong point. So I’m anxious to get back. But it’s just been impossible the last couple of weeks. πŸ™

  • Cat (from HtTS) Aug 14, 2009 @ 5:36

    I’m concentrating on my translation for this weekend trying to hit the 30% mark. Next week I’ll start writing the second part of my WIP. I am very much looking forward to that.

  • Greg Aug 14, 2009 @ 4:31

    546 for me and relationship conflict that puts her in danger as she storms off…

  • Brent B. Aug 14, 2009 @ 4:11

    Was working on the new story. Whoosh! It went way off into left field. And I just stopped. I took a long hard look at every serious project that I’ve really, really tried to bring to life.

    truth hurts . . .

    My very first attempt to write a book:
    “Amaranthine” (a story about an underwater facility attacked by whales after a bad science experiment went wrong) morphed into the “Shepherd” (a story about a space faring shepherd who brings his deadly flock to earth so it can feed – on us)

    I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

    It’s glaringly apparent. As I try to develop my story, I allow myself to stray far away from the original idea, and the story I wanted to write in the first place becomes lost. Then, I end up frustrated and giving up on the story. What really sucks is, I still like a lot of my story ideas. I don’t think I have any problem coming up with ideas, or even with writing itself. But for the life of me, I have some really serious issues when it comes to controlling my ideas.

    So, what I’m going to do now is pull out an old project that I really wanted to write. It was one of my favorite story ideas of all time. My plan is to make a BOSS folder of the original idea(s) that made me want to write that story. As I develop the story, I must check each new idea against the BOSS. If it builds on that BOSS without changing it, I use it; however, if it changes the BOSS in anyway, I must toss it, or at least tuck it away for some other story – for some other time. I’m thinking this will be slow and tedious, but that is probably what I need.

    Has anyone else encountered this problem to this degree?

    Any other useful tips for getting to Dallas when you’re such a lousy pilot that you end up in Detroit?

    I’m all ears.

    • Dawn K. Aug 14, 2009 @ 7:22

      Maybe Detroit is where you need to go? I’m certainly no expert, nor have I published a single thing, but here’s my two cents for what it’s worth.

      I used to write books like this. I’d get an idea for a main character and maybe a friend or romantic interest. A challenge would come to mind and an antagonist of some sort. I’d come up with a vague concept of what might happen by the end of the book. With all of that in my mind I’d write hard and fast. Usually I wouldn’t finish. I finished three novels that way. I didn’t try to publish any of them.

      A little less than a year ago I took the “How to Think Sideways” course. I learned how to write the Sentence light for my most important scenes and soon I was planning my whole book that way. I have one sentence for every scene. For me that means I wrote 60 sentences for a book I hoped to be 90,000 words. I expected a disaster. Instead I’m having more fun than ever!

      I thought that by not planning much I was keeping the book fun, but for me writing those sentences and then writing the scenes later helped in so many ways. I’ve changed and added and deleted sentences but overall having a plan means I never wonder where to go next. I never forget what I intended to write. I never find myself at the laptop with my fingers on the keys wondering why I wrote what I wrote yesterday and what to do about it today.

      So, sorry to ramble so much, my recommendation it to have a plan. You don’t have to plan every detail but loosely plan, then plan some related conflict. Don’t write the book point for point but create yourself some sign points so you know where you’re going. Or you could take the “How to Think Sideways” course. I highly recommend it. πŸ˜‰

    • Jessica Aug 14, 2009 @ 11:00

      I had the same problem. And it took a lot of humility to look at myself and recognize that if I really wanted to finish something I was going to have to change my plot process. So koodos to you for being honest with yourself.

      I find it’s a fine line to walk between free-writing based on ideas solely in my head, and over-plotted scenes. My problem was, and still is sometimes, that if I didn’t plot enough I’d find myself stuck without direction, and if I plotted too much I would feel like I’d already written the story and drop it.

      So when I finally sat down and said enough is enough, I worked around one idea. A couple of characters and a problem. Came up with a pitch Sentence (and it took a few days) but it is the lifeline that I turn to for everything. Then I get ideas for scenes – just points and keywords. If I can turn these into sentences that excite me, I keep them.
      I keep my scene sentences really light – what the main character is supposed to do and what’s in their way. Nothing else.
      Enough direction to push it forward, enough freedom to throw in details I didn’t expect when I actually write.

      So far it has worked to 25K. Granted, I still get stuck from time to time, but I try to keep focussed on that One Sentence to remind me this is the story I WANT to write. And for me, that’s enough motivation to keep me going.

      I also used to get bombarded with ideas for other stories while I wrote. I try not to listen to them anymore. If it doesn’t fit with my Sentence, it’s not going to steal my attention. If the idea is worth it I’ll remember it when I’m done. I have a one-track mind. I can’t work on multiple WIPs (I can multitask at work but that’s a different situation).

      Just keep at it and you will find what works for you. Good luck!

      • Scarlett Aug 14, 2009 @ 13:07

        That’s seems sound advice to me Jessica, well done for working it out

    • The Pencil Neck Aug 14, 2009 @ 11:14

      My problem is that I’d get an idea for a story. Then I’d sit down and start figuring everything out and I’d make a little change here and a little chang there. Then I’d start thinking about the backstory of the various characters.

      And the backstory story would frequently be more interesting to me than the original story… so I’d stop writing the original story and start working on the backstory. But then there would need to be backstory for the characters in the new story and some of their backstories would be really intriguing… and I’d start writing one of those stories instead of the story I was working on… over and over.

      I finally had to just say, “I’m writing THIS story.” And I had to stick to it.

      Another thing is that those little changes that I made, those little decisions and modifications, frequently made me end up with a story that was radically different from my original idea. I could go back and write the original idea of my current story and it would be totally different than the story I’m writing now. I’ve even considered writing it… after I finish this one. πŸ™‚

  • Treelight Aug 14, 2009 @ 2:32

    Still no new or changed words. I was more busy on my free day with this electrician in the house than I had expected.

    At last I worked on the background of my story and how the new villain would fit in there. I still have not sorted out everything, but it should be easier now to finally start the rewriting.

  • The Pencil Neck Aug 14, 2009 @ 1:17

    847 words.

    My vampire found a dark place to feel sorry for himself and tried to put together what had happened to him. He thought about just giving up but a couple of bums tried to take his paints and brushes away and that crystallized his desire to stay alive and continue to do the thing that pleases him most, paint. And he’s decided to convince his girlfriend to run away with him so they can start a new life where no one knows them.

    That’s not going to go well.

  • Clare K. R. Miller Aug 14, 2009 @ 0:35

    My MC was using push-pins and a map earlier! But that’s not particularly low-tech for her world…

    567 (hee hee) words today. She’s talking to a little old lady who is a famous storyteller.

  • KQ Aug 14, 2009 @ 0:21

    1452. I told myself that it would be a low stress night, I could do as little as I pleased, night off sort of thing. I wound up witha decent word count, some interesting description of magic potion-making (chemiluminescence), revealing dialogue and a major secondary character revealing more personality than I’d gambled on. I had planned, way back in some murky past, to have him and my MC have a falling out, and then make amends later. They are at an uneasy truce, and this guy is turning into an interesting foil for my MC. I am happy that my characters are revealing their onion-skin layers. I enjoyed it. I don’t post on the weekends (though I do write), due to internet deficiency, so I’ll catch up with everyone on Monday. Happy writing!

  • Nancy Aug 13, 2009 @ 23:26

    544 today. The MC just got taken into custody by the Purger and his acolyte. Big trouble in River City, Sheriff.

  • Sarah Aug 13, 2009 @ 23:05

    I got about 2600 today- on my new MacBook! With Scrivener! Man, its everything you said it would be. I’m a very happy birthday girl right now.
    Anyway, my character just got hit with a blast from his past, and another, an early kill, just met the wicked elves. Yum.

    • Dena C. Aug 14, 2009 @ 6:53

      Congrats on getting Scrivener. I got it for Christmas, and I love it. I can’t imagine how I wrote with anything else. It’s wonderful to have a program where everything is there. No more flipping through other documents to find notes when in the middle of a scene. Also good job with the words.

      • laurel Aug 14, 2009 @ 16:24

        Could you say a bit about how you use Scrivener for your novel? Do you use colors? How deeply do you go into the program? It is a wonderful program and there are so many things to discover.

        Thank you
        Write Well

        • Dena C. Aug 15, 2009 @ 12:45

          The novel I’m writing now is the first one I’ve done in Scrivener from start to finish (well I’m not finished the FD yet. I also have a novel in there that the first draft is finished and it’s waiting for revisions.). I started out with the novel format. I started off in the research section, and I did an outline. I wrote a paragraph about what the story would be about. Then I wrote a chapter by chapter outline with what I want to accomplish in each chapter. In the research section I also keep any notes that I might need to refer to when I’m writing, things like information about my MCs and I also have a page for any secondary characters that pop up through the story, I maintain a time line in there as well and every time something happens I put it in so when I’m writing and refer to an event I can be accurate about when it happened. Basically I put in the research section anything that’s going to help me when I’m writing the first draft.
          After I did the chapter by chapter out line, I went into the draft section and did folders in the binder for each chapter. Inside each chapter folder I put a text doc for each scene I’m planning to have. Then go to the cork board view, and outlined each scene on the scene cards. When I go to write the scene I can look at the note card or by having the inspector view open I can see the outline card at the top to remind me what I had planned for the scene. When I write I usually put it to full screen because it’s easier for me to write if I don’t have any other distractions on the computer. I also set the target for the number of words I’d planned to have for this scene. I usually go over this, but I keep it there so that when I do revisions, it’s easier for me to figure out how much I have to cut if I decide to keep the scene. Once I’m finished the scene I label it as first draft (which has a color associated with it). I also make notes in the inspector on what characters are involved, whose POV and if I wrote something different from what I had originally planned, I update the outline to reflect what the scene was about. It helps me to have separate cards for each scene rather than each chapter, because sometimes when I outline I put a scene where I think it should go and then when I write it I realize it should happen earlier or later in the book. If this happens I can drag it to the appropriate chapter folder.
          Once I go back for revisions I’ll change the draft label to second draft and when I go over it one more time I’ll label it as Final Draft. I really like setting up all my notes in the research part of the binder, because I can refer to any of my notes while I’m writing by going into split screen. I also like the snapshot feature as well. So this is my process for using Scrivener. I just got it in December, and my process my change with the next book as I use it more and discover what it’s capable of.

          • laurel Aug 15, 2009 @ 14:14

            Hi Dena

            Thank you for your Scrivener help, I enjoy and gratefully work in Scrivener, still I sense there are many, as of yet, undiscovered staircases that lead to novel treasures, a unique view to color code mysterious novel connections, that can be glimpsed from the terrace, a skylight that may help choreograph the ambience of which lights to leave on, and when to turn a few off to transform my grasp of the material I am working with, and lots of landscaping I can discover and learn to create within the garden’s of Scrivener to help understand the flow of each novel garden that wishes to be organized in a unique and quirky way.

            Journey well…..

          • Sarah Aug 16, 2009 @ 1:25

            Dena- This is a great explanation of a way to use scrivener. You’ve actually given me a lot of pointers to what I can do. I’ve only been using it for three days. I have notes on all the characters that have any significance, which I put in a characters folder in research, and which have their own color. I do the same for religions in a worldbuilding folder, themes to explore in a storybuilding folder, et. Each with their own colors. And I have a folder for each chapter as well, for the same reason- nice to move stuff around. Its so elegant, and so pretty, and I love the full screen mode.

        • laurel Aug 15, 2009 @ 14:43

          Hi – thank you Dena

          I posted this below but it is awaiting moderation, yet again. I thought I’d retry without the periods at the end to see if this might get posted.

          Thank you for your Scrivener help, I enjoy and gratefully work in Scrivener, still I sense there are many, as of yet, undiscovered staircases that lead to novel treasures, a unique view to color code mysterious novel connections, that can be glimpsed from the terrace, a skylight that may help choreograph the ambience of which lights to leave on, and when to turn a few off to transform my grasp of the material I am working with, and lots of landscaping I can discover and learn to create within the garden’s of Scrivener to help understand the flow of each novel garden that wishes to be organized in a unique and quirky way

    • Gabby Aug 14, 2009 @ 19:07

      Happy Birthday!

      • Sarah Aug 16, 2009 @ 1:23

        Thanks!

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