DTD—447 words, in which my heroine scares me

Okay. Aleksa is tougher than I thought. A lot tougher.

And scarier.

I got her story tonight, and the scare wasn’t the story itself, which made perfect sense in context.

It was this bit, right here.

“You can’t blame yourself—” Mike started to protest, but Aleksa stopped him.

“I don’t,” she said. “[Spoiler snipped.] I have never felt an instant’s remorse for what I did.”

This line changes her. Puts her in a different category of character. Still heroic, but darker. If she were a superhero, she could no longer be Superman. She’d have to be Batman—the Frank Miller Dark Knight version.

I ended it there, because now I need to think. I need to come to grips with the line. With her sea change. With the affect this has on the rest of the book. If you’re new to writing novels, you might not realize that a single line can divert an entire novel into a new channel, the way a single fallen tree can cause silt build-up, the creation of pools, eddies, and backwaters, and the shifts in erosion patterns that can over time change the course of an entire river.

So.

I’m thinking. Meanwhile…

How’s your writing coming?

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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.

41 comments… add one
  • laurel Sep 2, 2009 @ 18:06

    “You might not realize that a single line can divert an entire novel into a new channel, the way a single fallen tree can cause silt build-up, the creation of pools, eddies, and backwaters, and the shifts in erosion patterns that can over time change the course of an entire river.”

    I find the above comforting and confounding. How many times can you let this happen in a novel? Or do you trust in the characters to lead in new ways as often as they need to, as long as it “feels right?”

  • Greg Sep 2, 2009 @ 3:59

    Zero words for me today – I’d decided to see how I felt about working the bank holiday, given hectic weekend of weddings and visiting friends, and felt exhausted, so took the day for recharging!

  • Gabby Sep 1, 2009 @ 21:17

    1040 so far today. The scene had been moving along wonderfully but NOW totally stuck. And I have to figure out how to make it plausible that one more thing has escaped my secondary character’s notice. In my scene today I was able to explain a few others. But they have to be completely dumb not to realize that something is up by now. Argh… (and, I do realize that in the rewrite I may find out that my characters are already way too dumb. For convenience’ sake I’ve let everything stand so I can eventually get the darn thing finished).

    Golem’s voice is stuck in my head now…. “It’s the precious…”

    • Gabby Sep 1, 2009 @ 21:43

      False alarm… falsse alarm. My MC is currently talking her way out of it. I will take any “out” just now. Yay.

      • Gabby Sep 1, 2009 @ 22:04

        So, updated word count: 1284. And a new lesson: give my characters a chance to actually ask the questions and answer them BEFORE I panic. This could be a long, boring WIP if I don’t learn to let my character get herself into …and out of… difficult, unplanned situations.

  • Larkk Sep 1, 2009 @ 19:49

    Oh happy day, finally the office remodel is complete and I’m back at my humble desk! Sunday brought me 1574 more words at the dining room table and yesterday was 400 or so in my notebook. Yeah, writing longhand when I’m away from home…but (I tell myself) some of my favorite books were written with only pen, paper and passion so I will press on. Hopefully, tonight will be productive, I’m looking forward to being back at my computer.
    Interesting turn in the novel, Holly. I wasn’t sure if its okay for my good guys to slip up sometimes, but I guess they do, just like in real life.

  • SCBrazil Sep 1, 2009 @ 19:27

    No posts recently but I have been writing. I have not been enjoying what I’ve been doing though and feel in a stale patch.
    As I’m already into new territory word-count-wise, I have decided to stick to my motto of ‘don’t get it right, get it written’ and move forward regardless. I hope more fun-filled times will be just round the next corner.
    I have my rough 30 scene outline and I know my ending so when I get lost, I know I can just get out the map. That reassures me.
    All that said (or grumbled), today was one of my most productive yet – 707.
    I hope things are going well for everyone else.

  • Texanne Sep 1, 2009 @ 19:00

    Every time I’d start to write the next scene I’d fold up. Finally have realized that my victim (WIP is murder mystery) could not exist in a vacuum–he had to have more family, friends and colleagues than just his cheating wife, his blackmailing underling and the good guy who got blamed for the murder. Suddenly–he’s got a first wife & grown kids! Ah, this is wonderful, because now I’ve got viable suspects beyond the real villain. I’m happy now and can get back to writing scenes, the hard part.

  • Scarlett Sep 1, 2009 @ 13:56

    1300 words today. A surprise as didnt think I would be able to find the time to write until later in the week when the children are back at school. A bit of a revelation today too. My MC has to jump through various hoops to reach the finale and I always thought one of them was quite literal. Today though I realised it was metaphorical and the revelation has added some excitement to that part of the plot so I was pleased.

  • Elise Sep 1, 2009 @ 13:32

    So, after being stalled out for a few days, I figured out the reason: I was bored. Yesterday I just quit on the scene I had been writing and decided to write a candy bar scene, knowing I hadn’t laid the groundwork for why things happen exactly the way they do here, but sure that I wouldn’t be bored. Got 1463 words on that one and still going strong.
    Did some brainstorming in my journal this morning and came up with a couple of other scenes that sound interesting. Sometimes writing fiction is like going on an archaeological dig; you have to keep digging to come up with the good stuff.

  • Treelight Sep 1, 2009 @ 13:19

    I inserted some bits and pieces to make the current scenes work better in a logical way.
    Then I added a bit here and there.
    The story itself (still in rewriting mode) took only a little step onwards.
    However, all in all I ended up with 497 words more.

    Oh … and I renamed my villain from Grevorg to Gesem Rehos.
    It’s just easier to say and fits better into the domain he is supposed to come from.

  • Lisa R Sep 1, 2009 @ 12:42

    461 words. I almost just went to bed because the cold is still kicking me, but I hate starting a week without writing. I enjoyed the writing. My MC and her new mentor had a fight their second day. I so love conflict. I wanted to write more but needed sleep. I am looking forward to tonight.

  • Colleen Sep 1, 2009 @ 12:30

    Took some extended time off to let life settle down to the general chaos (as opposed to the overwhelming, sob-inducing kind). Also, to plot.

    So now I have a good, solid plot, and 600-ish words a day from Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I’m happy again. πŸ™‚

    (Note to self: Writing makes you happier. Yes, even when you have more obligations that you have digits to count them on. Remember this.)

  • Roisin Sep 1, 2009 @ 12:05

    Yesterday was me playing the throw-the-spaghetti-against-the-wall game and losing. I got about 100-200 words on various short stories I’ve been tinkering with, but nothing seemed to stick and I don’t feel I’m much further along.

    Still. I’m impatiently awaiting my next lesson in HtTS and I’m reasonably sure my muse is telling me there’s something Big cooking inside my head, but I’ve got to wait for it. I’m not good at waiting, so I just cleaned out my email and tried out some new organisation software. Hopefully, it’ll be worth it once it arrives.

    Patience is a virtue. Om….

  • Rabia Sep 1, 2009 @ 11:40

    895 words–a lot more than I was expecting to get. And this time around, I made sure to stop before the end of the scene so I can get back into the story easier tonight. My MC just asked a question about how her twin brother got a wound in his leg. The Guy Who Knows was going to say “he got it while hunting”, but having spent the drive to and from the kids’ dental appointments thinking, I have a better answer to that question. One that will make the danger to the MC’s world clearer, as well as make her feel guilty because it’s an indirect consequence of something *she* did. Bwahahaha!!

    I also learned the significance of hair in this story. Yes, hair. RB comes up with the most interesting symbols.

  • Michelle Sep 1, 2009 @ 11:36

    667 words and time for bed. πŸ™‚

  • Sarah Collins Sep 1, 2009 @ 11:13

    Word count 566 and the end of CH 1 on the WIP. Didn’t touch the edit-IP yesterday.

  • Kait Nolan Sep 1, 2009 @ 9:56

    Um…31 words. Yeah. One line. The opening line to the next scene. Then I went off on a tangent analyzing the beginning of the book and picking out its deficiencies and making notes on how it can be improved. It’s not procrastination. Really, it’s not.

  • Khena Sep 1, 2009 @ 9:28

    I got some words yesterday. Not really sure how many, a little over 100 I am guessing. Took my horribly fragmented scene and finally managed to mash it all together. It’s not perfect, or even great, but it makes sense. So I closed chapter 16 and am moving on.

    Thanks for the comments yesterday Pencil Neck and Treelight =) Hopefully I can move on and get back to work.

  • Cat (from HtTS) Sep 1, 2009 @ 9:14

    I wrote 1037 words in my WIP and 1613 in my translation. Thus, I have reached the half way point in both. Also, a minor character smuggled herself into my last scene that I didn’t mean to have there but it makes so much sense to have her. She might even reappear at the end and tell my MC that she was the one who kidnapped her on the bad guys orders.

  • Steph Sep 1, 2009 @ 8:18

    259 words yesterday. First day back to the grind, and already started feeling the pressure. BUT at least I’m still writing!

  • Laura Sep 1, 2009 @ 7:42

    No words, sadly. I was too busy with the University stuff (this will be my first year, and I have never experienced such a level of disorganisation!). But while listening to Vienna Teng’s song “My Medea” I finally understood why Meora (my FMC’s twin) is doing the things she does and is so mean to her sister. I was astonished and still can’t understand whether to be happy about this discovery or cry on her behalf. Oh well. I’ll sort that out tonight.

    Good luck with your writing! πŸ™‚

    • Gabby Sep 1, 2009 @ 18:54

      Yay- that’s great news πŸ™‚ Congratulations

      • Laura Sep 2, 2009 @ 5:54

        Thanks! πŸ™‚

    • Rick Sep 2, 2009 @ 21:37

      Vienna Teng is wonderfully inspirational that way. πŸ˜€

  • Leah Sep 1, 2009 @ 7:32

    638 tonight.

  • Debora Sep 1, 2009 @ 7:17

    Heroic, but darker. Cool new twist!

    Got 115 words. Not a lot, but my not-so-evil day job is keeping me busy. Plus the cat I was told had kidney disease now is diabetic again. That’s actually good news, because it’s treatable. I have to chase after him twice a day to give him a shot of insulin, poor baby, but Murphy has always had the most wonderful temperament. I also have to feed him separately from the other two cats, which is a pain. Murph used to weigh over twenty pounds. Now he’s a slim thirteen pounds and rather frighteningly bony, but the vet told me he’s really doing very well for a cat his age (he’s about eighty in people years).

    What’s worse is my dog, Sam, a neurotic beagle mix with severe separation anxiety, seems to have been thrown off by my schedule and has gone from being reliably housebroken to a very bad boy. I keep getting up in the middle of the night to take him for a walk, only to find out he has already peed. Grrrrr. Trying to find a positive way to break him of this new habit. He has the most beautiful beagle brown eyes!

    So I’m sleep-deprived and over-worked. 115 words is good enough.

    • Debora Sep 1, 2009 @ 7:20

      Gotta wonder why my comment is awaiting moderation???

      • Holly Lisle Sep 1, 2009 @ 10:45

        Akismet is cruel, is why. I think the damn thing rolls dice.

  • Minze Sep 1, 2009 @ 5:37

    I got 478 words, and my main character and the male lead are simply trying to get home. That part of the scene is running on for much longer than I thought. I wish I didn’t overwrite things so much, it makes everything run on for ages… Also, my MC just told the male lead something about herself that I’m not sure she’d tell a perfect stranger. Either she likes him, or she’s too tired to be cautious, or I’ve made a mistake. Hm.

  • Dena C. Sep 1, 2009 @ 5:37

    1227 for me. I had the day off yesterday so I’m nice and relaxed.

  • The Pencil Neck Sep 1, 2009 @ 2:28

    609 words.

    I didn’t expect to get any words at all tonight. My team was playing on Monday Night Football tonight and I thought I had a phone conference tonight. But I never got an invite for the meeting. I think it got moved to tomorrow night, so I got to write a little bit.

    I revised last night’s scene to add in the parts where the Thief lies to his mentor about where he spent the day and doesn’t tell her that the Empress wants her head.

    And I started on a scene where the Mentor gives the Thief a piece of her mind about him having to learn to act as a noble and to stop acting like a peasant. She passes him and he sees the beginning of the spell on her.

  • Ieva Sep 1, 2009 @ 1:20

    100+ words (177 to be exact). Since I think I have a mild sinusitis, that’s sorta acceptable.
    Nothing big happened, just finished a scene.

  • Shannon Sep 1, 2009 @ 1:02

    No writing for me tonight, unfortunately. I had computer issues all evening and now that everything seems to be resolved, it’s just too darn late. I got 654 words last night, though, and started a new scene that will be key. I left off just as it was starting to build so I’m really itching to get back to it. If I didn’t have to get up and go to work tomorrow, I’d tackle it now.

  • KQ Sep 1, 2009 @ 0:35

    Around 850, I think for me. I forgot to count. Still plodding along!

  • Sarah Sep 1, 2009 @ 0:16

    1606 in my main WIP, and the introduction of the first turncoat, of which I think there will be at least two, and maybe one that really is on the hero’s side.
    And 260 in my short story, wherein the Potentate experiences a major, scary mood change.

  • Tori Sep 1, 2009 @ 0:10

    I will be starting my first writing night at the end of this week, that is my goal at least. I am in the middle of my plot cards right now and its hard getting my Me to shut up long enough to let my Muse work. Why is it that every time I feel I am progressing I have these setbacks? I keep hearing my inner editor telling me my conflicts are crap, I’m ruining the story…It finally hit me its not going to be perfect the first time. That has taken some stress away, knowing that these are just rough ideas that I can improve whenever inspiration strikes.

    So…slowly I am getting to where I need to be. I already have a rough idea on how long the novel will take me to write if I only write 500 words a day. It feels good knowing my goals are doable.

    • The Pencil Neck Sep 1, 2009 @ 2:22

      Keep stroking. πŸ™‚

  • Jessica Aug 31, 2009 @ 23:53

    1024 for me tonight. Funny, I thought I’d only get about 200 and FMC was trying to avoid telling her BFF too much information – because what you don’t know you can’t reveal to the wrong people. But BFF absolutely insisted on teasing and proding until she was satisfied with half-truths, and two critical bits of info that put the FMC in extreme danger.
    The scene ended but I still wasn’t done! Just had to add onto the next scene some admission of weakness in the villain, who has been spying on the girls from afar and is now making his move toward BFF as FMC returns home.

    I know the next few scenes following are not very fleshed out yet, but what I learned from the conversations today will help me develop the story in those scenes.

  • Clare K. R. Miller Aug 31, 2009 @ 23:52

    Well, nothing quite so exciting for me, but it is exciting for the characters. Cricket and her companions arrived back in their country and would take a skyboat back to her cousin’s house, but got a message from him saying to go back to where they started… because the bad guys have all suddenly vanished. 521 words.

  • Gracie O'Neil Aug 31, 2009 @ 23:14

    My writing is coming slowly. After the lightbulb of “only describe the extraordinary” I found that, really, the first three chapters of the WIP I’m revising had to go. Probably Chapters four and five as well. However, after several weeks of angst I’ve finally discovered my story’s starting place, and things are beginning to flow. The flow is slow, but at least I wake up in the morning ready to write. I really hate it when you open your eyes and already feel as though the entire writing universe sucks. I’ve got a few of those sea-change lines too, which has thrown–not a cat, but a small, rather hungry lion among the pigeons. Should be fun. πŸ™‚

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