Finished Book 3 Outline, Three Scenes into Book 4 — and the mysterious origins of the funny bits.

As I’ve mentioned before, I outline. One 30-word sentence per chapter (knowing even as I do it that I will write extra, unexpected scenes; will write AGAINST some planned, outlined scenes; and will come up with some shit out of nowhere that suddenly has to be in the book, and that changes everything).

Mine is a messy, gory, grubby process that leaves a lot of bent and broken stuff in its wake — which is why I am the Small God of ferocious One Pass Revision.

But first, I outline. 

And today I finished the Book 3 outline, and got three GOOD scenes into book 4.

Things are twisting, shifty, getting messy and scary and grim in the main storyline — and the funny stuff never appears in the outline. The funny stuff only happens when I’m actually writing, when my Node Of Perversity observes that one character has a bad addiction… and then follows another character unknowingly feeding that character’s addiction to its logical conclusion.  

Which made me laugh my ass off, and made Matt, my editor (and husband), laugh so hard he snorted. That almost never happens, so it was a huge win.

But that’s all shit I can’t plan.

The PLAN is dark, and twisty, and dangerous, and filled with people I love getting deeper into muck they’re going to have a helluva time surviving.

I just have faith that Smartass Holly will show up while I’m writing that stuff, and make all the rest of us laugh.

 

No word count. It’s pointless in outlining. But finishing Outline 3 and getting partway into Outline 3 is GOOD progress.


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


3 comments… add one
  • Mike Lucas Mar 3, 2021 @ 18:30

    Great progress! Question for you though. A couple days ago you wrote:
    “I know there is absolutely no point in outlining (even provisionally) for books 4 and 5, because my very best stuff in each novel arises from my spontaneous fighting against the outline, and no matter what I planned for 4 and 5, by the time I’ve written 3, I’ll be able to do something better.”

    But now it sounds like you are doing the Book 4 outline after all? Did you change your mind about that? I’m curious to know why — sometimes the exceptions help you understand the rule better!

    • Holly Mar 4, 2021 @ 9:41

      I realized I needed to know the arc, and I realized this because I’ve been reading a TON of Terry Pratchett (all the Discworld novels in chronological order).

      I’d been thinking that I was doing something like what he was doing (funny, though with a bit more grimdark, because you know me)… and then I realized that I wasn’t.

      From him, I’ll still getting tons of value from the mix of serious shit and catch-you-off-guard humor…

      But he has all these little groups of people who each get their own books. But when you read them in chronological order, you realize that while each group has its own story, and all the different groups intersect from book to book in various ways…

      I have an additional element he didn’t.

      While I have different groups, and multiple conflicts, I ALSO have ONE main character, and every single book is a piece of her story, along with all those other folks’ stories.

      I can pull all sorts of process out of how Pratchett worked with his groups, but I ALSO need to have my protagonist’s whole five-book story in Line-for-Scene outline so that I know exactly what I’m fighting to beat.

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