And in this particular set of chapters, I’ve managed to make myself cry a couple of times.

The fixes in this section have been mostly small (typos, spellos, extra spaces), and the couple of bigger changes let me add a bit more emotion to the terrible thing that my main character is discovering.

It was a very, very good writing day — and I LOVE this world and the bits of story I got to work on today.

But now… forums, and then off to do the Live In The Real World stuff.

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This is such a weird job. Going through the type-in revision of Book Two this morning, I both laughed my ass off and then cried typing in the same scene. That particular LONG scene, now revised, held up pretty well from when I wrote Ohio 2, though I had a couple of complex fixes due to a series-wide story physics decision I made while writing the first draft of Book 3.

When I hit the revision of the third novel, that particular story physics problem will go away. 

For now, fixing it is a big pain in the ass.

STORY PHYSICS has absolutely nothing to do with the science of physics. It’s just the rules you decide to abide by when writing your fiction — and halfway through this series, I made a big decision to change how my MC can do a particularly difficult part of her job.

These rules have to do with story tone, and with the ways that things can or cannot happen, and in this case, they’re important to maintaining the funny

There are certain elements that, when you introduce them into your fiction, require that the stories you’re writing then be read seriously, because those elements will ALWAYS be read as serious.

These are weird books. I hurt my characters a LOT… and a lot of what goes on in the books is deeply meaningful to me, and I hope will be to the eventual readers, too.

But my underlying tone in the world is humorous, and I had some things in the first draft of BOOK TWO that broke that. That took me out of the laughter in places where I didn’t want that to happen.

So… today that big change in story physics went in. I’m pretty sure by the time I was writing BOOK THREE, I’d already identified the necessary change in nature of the physics, and wrote that book and the ones following it to use the necessary new version of the rules.

But today had some twiddly bits and some finicky fixes, and I have a headache from keeping all the details straight.

So I’m going to check in on the forums, and then call it a day.

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I was up at six, (when you’re fasting, it’s weirdly easy to roll out of bed at the crack of dawn and be through the shower, done with the first cup of coffee, before seven AM… and at my desk and finished with necessary work emails and the one help desk ticket only I could do not long after that. 

So now I’m on to Ohio Two… The TYPE IN.

I open the manuscript, I drag the big-ass pile of paper over to my right, look at my three big URGENT!!! sticky notes tacked to the right side of my computer screen (the one about Derovi, the one about the absolutely necessary weapons change, and the one about the Hosho) and I get ready to write.

By writing the five novels back-to-back-to-back without going back to re-read the previous books, I’ve done some interesting things.

  • I changed both world and story physics as I got a better feel for how to set hard limitations on the magic
  • I had better ideas that I leapt into the middle of that now must have some antecedents built up front
  • I created some characters at the end who now need to be worked into the beginning (or at least into books two and three)
  • And, working my way through from the beginning now, I did one thing at the end of Book Five that I’m probably going to have to smash with a hammer. Or at least give a MUCH better reason for its existence.

All of this is standard shit for any revision. It’s just that I’ve never revised five novels back to back before with none yet in print (meaning I have the FREEDOM to change stuff at the beginning, and am not stuck with worldbuilding that I regret locking me into story physics that was too unlimited and too open).

The best thing any novelist can do to get good, tight stories is to build good, tight limitations into the worldbuilding. 

If anything can happen, nothing matters.

If just about everything is impossible, you can get your character embedded deeply in the swamp with the quicksand, the alligators, the poisonous snakes, and the half-starved, injured panther with a taste for human flesh, and have helluva lot of fun making your character work for his escape.

THAT’s what I’m doing today. (None of the stuff includes South Florida swamps or wildlife, though. This is all Pure Ohio™.)

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I like it. I had to make one BIG change because I had a revelation when writing the first draft of Book 3 that had to be retrofitted into Book One and Two–

And while I haven’t read Three since I wrote it, I think I had that revelation at the very beginning of Three. Which, if I’m remembering correctly, means I just finished with the BIG retrofit, which was all about the use of technology and What We Don’t Do.

I’m not necessarily remembering correctly. There might be a bit more of the early error I made and just finished ripping out of Book Two. If so, by the time I hit Book Three, it will be a damned easy fix.

But… ANYWAY…

I’d been away from the Book Two story long enough that it was like someone else wrote it. That means I got to be objective about stuff I screwed up (and there’s always stuff I screw up in first draft).

It also meant that when I hit the funny bits, I didn’t know they were coming, and there were some places where I laughed out loud.

This is a good sign. That stuff stays.

So now I’m going to print out the manuscript for Book Three.

And oh… on printing out the manuscript, since I was so utterly grumpy about my Mac and my LaserJet Pro M404n failing to communicate with each other…

Matt’s words were running through my head a few days ago where I decided to type in a replacement scene rather than hand-writing it. They were, “I just plugged it in and it worked.” This was on his Windows computer.

And I thought… yeah. That’s how Apple computers used to work, too. What if they still do?

So I deleted the updated Official Driver I’d downloaded from the Official Hewlett Packard site. Just wiped the damn thing out.

Turned my printer on, hit “Print” in Scrivener, let my Mac find find the plugged-in printer on its own and identify it…

And guess what…

IT JUST WORKED.

I’m guessing it’s gonna be a hot day in Hel when everyone’s a teetotaler before I override my Mac with a company’s ‘official driver’ again.

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I had a small fight with myself over whether to keep two short-term characters and the scene that included them, and after some struggle and bouncing my arguments around with myself, I let them stay.

They tie into an earlier incident, and my conclusion with them in this book does offer some promise that today’s incident can offer some spiffy repercussions in books down the road.

Lot of handwriting in today’s work. Am now down to the BOTTOM of page 287 on the manuscript, with 431 total in the book. 

I am very, very happy with Book 2 to this point. But now…

On to the rest of the day’s work. 😀

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I’m past the halfway mark on the read-through-note-taking process on Ohio 2.

I have a lot of the first draft that I’ll be able to use as is.

That’s good. I have written novels where I discovered the first draft was The Story I Don’t Want To Tell (and could still run into that in Books 3, 4, or 5. It happens. Isn’t fun when it does, but at least I know how to fix it.)

About sixty percent of the first draft so far is going to take middling rework (rethinking, taking out wrong directions, adding in the better direction I’ve come up with). About ten percent is just wrong, because what I discovered in books three, four, and five while I wrote them changed some of my understanding of my world.

And there’s one story thread that I discovered while reading that gets expanded, because it’s funny, it’s scary, and I love it like bunnies.

The image is an unrelated keeper quote from the current Chapter 13, which is here because it happens to be on the page I’m starting with this morning.

But about Character Paranoia… (also related to the gray squirrel)…

My MC is suffering a bad case of it right now, because home looks like she remembered, but it doesn’t work like she remembered… and she’s discovering that the stakes attached to the house her grandma left her are a lot higher than… well… than a woman coming home to the small town she loved would hope.

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And I’m very, very happy with the way this book is going.

The story made me laugh multiple times, got me a bit teary-eyed once, and the plot through this part of it held together tightly still getting some necessary backstory into the mix.

And reading through and writing stuff in and making changes, I just keep being happy that this is the world I get to work in.

I know there are two big obstacles coming later in the book, but today’s work was mostly small and cosmetic, and I made great progress and had a lot of fun.

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You grind. You dig. You read with increasing despair through a manuscript that seemed while you were writing it like a thing of wonder.

You wonder how you could have gone so far off the mark. And you think, “How did I think this was going to work?” and consider the possibility that you’re going to have to ditch all of Book Two, and write a completely different second novel.

And then, while hanging out with your guy while he’s shaving, you suddenly have this damned lightning-bolt-out-of-blue-holy-crap-why-didn’t-see-this-before revelation.

You were asking the wrong primary question about the second book.

To avoid spoilers, I’m going to eliminate the details, and just state that, looking at the story I’d told and where it went off the rails, I was asking a WHY question.

The SECOND I rephrased the core novel conflict question to make it a HOW question, the book worked. 

Yeah, I’ll still need to do some revision. But my shifting the focus from WHY to HOW, this becomes a light, relatively friendly fix, where most of Book 2 is okay as written.

Revision is a bitch.

It screws with your head at the best of times and tells you the story is utter unsalvageable crap  (or your head lies to you and tells you the damn thing is perfect, which is actually worse for your outcome in the long run). Either way, you believe, and when you believe, you embrace the risk of putting crap out into the universe with your name (or pseudonym) on it.

And then you walk away, let your brain wander off to do other things… and your mind relaxes, and lets go of all the stress and anxiety.

And an answer appears.

Very, very sideways thinking, this process. And it still feels like magic every time it happens.

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Nope. It’s gonna have to be the HARD way.

Completed the read-through with notes this morning, and while I have a good main story, this damn thing is gonna take a lot of work.

I can’t blame anyone or anything but myself for this. I had a good line-for-scene outline for Book 2, but when I had a better idea, I made a pure rookie move, and dropped my outline to chase it.

In my own defense, the better idea actually WAS. I’m relieved to prove to myself that, yeah, I DO actually still recognize a better idea when one bites me on the ass and races off laughing like a loon into the shrubbery.

Kicking myself in the seat of the pants, now, though… 

Indefensibly, I did not OUTLINE the better idea. I left my existing line-for-scene outline sitting ignored on my Scrivener notecards, and I just leapt in and chased.

So now, all the way to the end of Book 2, I’m looking at a big reorganization, a clean-up re-plot to fix the shit I broke, and before I get too crazy, a quick re-read of Book 3’s first draft, where the back of my mind says some of the less-great choices I made in Book Two that I’m going to be removing got picked up and carried forward a bit.

However, the really big problem in Book Two is that, in chasing the better idea, I dropped a primary thread from the first book and misplaced my most important secondary character for the entire book, and I’m going to have work them into the revision.

Book One was a smooth, beautiful revision.

Book Two’s revision, which follows the just-completed read-through-and-mark-up, is going to be anything but.

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So I’m all the way through page 422 on the read-through of Book 2.

There are 431 printed pages in the first-draft manuscript, and you’d think, wouldn’t you, that being this close to the end of the book, I’d just finish the read-through and mark-up today?

Usually, I would.

But I’ve been hitting some walls with this novel’s first draft. Places where I alluded to a lot of worldbuilding that I hadn’t actually done, places where I used a couple of sentences to have something happen, and where that action needed at LEAST a full scene, and maybe even its own chapter…

And while it’s evident that I had a helluva lot of fun worldbuilding on the fly, and beating up my MC, and putting all the folks I like in awful danger…

There are places in Book Two that read like a pretty good line-for-scene outline.

Book ONE is ready for typesetting and publication.

Book TWO is going to take a full-on revision and is going to probably come out the other end of its ordeal about 25% longer than it is right now. Best case.

So before I read what I decided made a good ending for Book Two when I wrote the first draft, I’m just going to let the story perk in the back of my mind for the rest of today.

I’ll come back in tomorrow morning when I’m fresh, drop back a few pages to the beginning of the current chapter, read to the end, and then see if I can find a relatively short way to solve the problem I’ve made for myself.

If not, I’ll be returning to the beginning of Book Two to build out the solution I see right now, which will add about a third to the length of this novel, and MIGHT complicate some of what I’ve written in Three through Five.

Arrgh!

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