The Mind of A Latent Vigilante

I keep sliding sideways into aspects of my characters I did not expect. Digging into a bit of backstory tonight, I discovered not just the details of four murders one of my characters committed, but details of that character’s current life that I never expected.

These details make perfect sense, and dovetail beautifully with certain horrible events coming up in the next section of the novel… but I never planned them. Having them fall into place for me today was another instance of realizing I’m playing cards with my subconscious, and my subconscious has marked the deck.

And I ran way over.

817 words. I apologize. I got to digging into this, didn’t want to stop, and eventually reined myself in by brute force, with a lot of material I wanted to explore still to write.

So.

How’s your story 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.

39 comments… add one
  • Vanessa Wells Sep 18, 2009 @ 9:51

    I’m so glad to start this! I’ve been editing my first book (for three months, I kept changing the ending) but now I’m 85 pages into the second book and it’s soooo easy! I did so much backstory and research on the first one (and I haven’t touched a 1/4 of that info). The second book is just flowing out of nowhere. I wrote 1500 words yesterday, and it was like eating candy! I knew what the people were going to say, do, and think… Thank you Holly!

  • Tori Sep 17, 2009 @ 20:14

    No more wasting time! Today I begin writing my secret project. I have a pretty good idea where I’ll start, but, just to be safe I’m reading Lesson 9 of Thinking Sideways again:D
    I don’t have all the scenes planned out…but I have figured out I don’t work this way. I am a panster, not a planner. So even planning this much is a huge accomplishment.
    I’ll post again later tonight to mention my progress. I want to hit the 500 word mark, but we’ll see.
    And Holly- Thank you. Your course has made a world of difference for me and my writing! I have actually made characters I care about. None of that would have been possible without you. So, to show my appreciation, if I get published, your name is going in the Acknowledgments section!

  • Roisin Sep 17, 2009 @ 19:49

    1,619 words today on the Busman’s Holiday project, because I’m waiting to sit down with my muse and work through the Dreaded Middle of the main WIP, and the BH is still in its opening stages at 9.4k.

    One of the scenes was good, and the other was verbose and rambly and though I clumsily conveyed the main point of the scene, I’m not convinced I hit my two other objectives: to show the readermthat my POV character is slowly changing in response to his recent crisis, and to let the POV character gradually figure out how different the other character is from his first impression.

    I was trying to accomplish all that, and I *think* I got dialogue waffle. I’ll come back in a while and read it to see if my mud has turned into gold (as sometimes happens – though not as often as the other way around, which is extremely unpleasant).

    I have enough knowledge of the story to write about three more long scenes – say 5-6k – then I have to sit down work out some more details of the conspiracy-subplot.

  • Don Sep 17, 2009 @ 19:34

    Got a little confused, any way between yesteday and today 1,122 words.

  • Rabia Sep 17, 2009 @ 16:10

    457 words for me last night, right before I hit the sack. Not great words, but they got my MC and her sister interacting and the story out of that one hall.

    Moving right along.

  • June Sep 17, 2009 @ 15:52

    I’m finally certain this is a real book, so I thought I would join the party. I’ve been following for a while and think this ‘write a book with me’ is a great idea.

    The new project is several weeks old at this point. It’s a fantasy, more or less of the epic kind — big battles, big magic, that sort of thing. My hero enlisted in a foreign army 5 years ago and has been fighting ever since. At the start he and all his fellow Toldarans know the upcoming battle will be a suicide mission for them.

    At this point I have about 6K total words that I think will really stay in the book. I’ve ordered the first few scenes and am working in chapter 2, scene one at the moment. The priavo’s (that’s like a general of the army) daughter wants to save Ciqueo’s life (he’s the hero) and has barged into her father’s tent to demand a change in his orders. She happens to walk into a secret meeting with the enemy.

    So far having fun.

    For today, 263 words. Slow, but I’m being careful about characterization here at the start.

    –June

    • Treelight Sep 17, 2009 @ 20:40

      Sounds interesting! I hope you’ll keep us updated with such little snippets πŸ™‚

  • Sarah Collins Sep 17, 2009 @ 15:28

    2603 since my last check in for the 10th.

  • Treelight Sep 17, 2009 @ 14:29

    With about 300 words I ended the rewrite of another chapter. I even think I managed a neat little cliffhanger.
    Cathrine thinks her means of transport is falling apart and just saw some familiar figure who might be able to rescue her from her kidnapper, Gesem.

    Well, and I removed again some paragraphs from the old version, so the word-total dropped by 470 words.
    The good thing about this is that I’m still over the 80k πŸ™‚

  • SCBrazil Sep 17, 2009 @ 14:06

    I ran over my minimum, reversed backwards to make sure I’d finished it off and then slammed into first gear again for the fun of it. Third time round I stalled but I forgive myself – 699.

    A little self doubt started creeping in today. Do I know my characters well enough? Will my plot hold up later on? Is my twist really just a slice in disguise? A finished novel? Me? Who am I kidding?

    What do I do with these demons? Ignore them and put them to the back of my mind or work through them and try to extract some juice?

    • The Pencil Neck Sep 17, 2009 @ 14:31

      I just put my head down and keep going. It’s all just jibber jabber.

    • Treelight Sep 17, 2009 @ 14:31

      I’d say you should work through them!
      It doesn’t matter if you don’t know your characters well enough, for example, but you only will find out when you really think about and put down something like a profile for them.
      If you discover gaps – just try to fill them.

    • Debora Sep 18, 2009 @ 8:49

      Oh, self-doubt. One of my constant companions. That nagging voice in my head. I try not to listen to it, because it impedes progress. It wants me to fail.

      Took me decades to get past it, but I’ll never get the book of my dreams written if I listen to it. Gotta keep writing.

      Now if it’s your muse who is trying to get your attention, that’s a different matter altogether. Listen to your muse, but ignore the demons. But how do I tell the difference, you ask?

      Well, you follow Holly’s path and learn to think sideways! Easier said than done, but it works.

  • Erin Kendall Sep 17, 2009 @ 12:31

    720 words and back on track with chapter 2.

    Cheers,
    Erin K.

  • Beverly Sep 17, 2009 @ 12:07

    1,784 words. I think that I barfed up a toenail last night. Power went out at midnight and came back on at four in the morning. Writing takes my mind off of things. I would just imagine someone in the story is going to end up being rather crabby.

  • Sarah Sep 17, 2009 @ 11:40

    Less than 500 words last night, and some unplanned revision. I read a chapter in the Art of Fiction by Ayn Rand, on style, and it made me get pretty self conscious. The revising I did definitely made the scene better, but I really don’t want to do revisions until I’m done with the book! Otherwise I’ll dink around forever.

    • Holly Lisle Sep 17, 2009 @ 11:46

      Revising while writing is THE best method I know for screwing up your book and running your progress into a brick wall. I blogged a couple of the books in which I did this. You can actually watch the trains colliding in slow-mo going through those entries. Horrible crashes. Bodies…everywhere.

      THOSE were the books where I’d written 60,000 words before stalling, and tossed 50,000 before I even hit the ending and had a chance to figure out what went wrong. Ugh.

      Never again.

      • Red_dot Sep 17, 2009 @ 14:03

        This helps me fight the urge to revise. Chapter 2 is a ghost town of words. I’ll go back after I finish. I have to finish first!

  • Ieva Sep 17, 2009 @ 11:09

    900+ words. I’m taking Wednesday off though.

  • Lisa R Sep 17, 2009 @ 9:48

    826 words. I started the next chapter and I really enjoyed it. When my MC is with the enemy, she acts so differently. There is a chemesty between the two of them that I really need to work hard with now that they are going to have to spend some time together.

    This novel has been in my head for a good 14 years. Everytime I would day dream the plot, it was nice and sunny with a little confilce. Now that I am writing it, the plot is becoming very dark and the conflict more threatening. In this chapter, I have to kill a character. I am getting nervous!

  • Charmaine Sep 17, 2009 @ 8:39

    749 words down towards Chapter 3 of Dog Show Detective. Moving at a steady pace. Most grateful for Think Sideways and this blog forum.

  • HannaBelle Sep 17, 2009 @ 8:14

    Yesterday I had so much to do, that I did several things in timed 10 minute spurts. I wrote for 2 10 minute spurts and wrote 624 words.

    It was not a scene I had planned at all, but I wound up enjoying it. I decided to do one scene with the interfering Aunt, and it turned out to be a gathering of her neighbors, all of them very different, the creepy one, the sweet one, the gossipy one, etc. Through these ladies I realized I could present some complicated pieces of the story as they gossip about it.

    I am still surprised and pleased how these things come out without having planned them at all.

    • Holly Lisle Sep 17, 2009 @ 8:35

      I love that part, too. Last night was one of those for me. πŸ˜€

  • Khena Sep 17, 2009 @ 7:58

    1088 words for me yesterday, finally! Now, granted, some of those are revision from the 200 or so I hand wrote the day before (Reallly overestimated my count), but I still finally managed to get over 1000 again. It seems like forever!

    My story is moving forward well, the King’s sorcerer had one of the stones, but willingly gave it back to my MCs. The other unfortunately, is in the hands of the sorcerer who is trying to kill them. They’ve got some difficult decisions to make soon: go after the sorcerer who is trying to kill them, and who has serveral of the stones they are looking for, or go to the King of Keoith to warn him of the war and get one of the stones.

  • Cat (from HtTS) Sep 17, 2009 @ 5:52

    1939 words in my translation but only 180 on my WIP. It’s a nuisance that people keep phoning me when I’m writing. At least I’m satisfied with what I got. My MC has been ambushed again but still hasn’t figured out that she had been set up by her step-sisters employer (the sorcerer, villain). I’ll explore this in more detail tomorrow and with a little luck, I’ll manage to squeeze in some writing time over the weekend.

    For HannaBelle: Here is the link to the answer to your last question (you might have to copy and paste. I’m not sure how to make a link work in the comments): https://hollylisle.com/writingdiary2/index.php/2009/09/15/killed-a-man-tonight-but-in-the-future/#comment-34843

    • HannaBelle Sep 17, 2009 @ 8:08

      The link worked, thanks.

  • KQ Sep 17, 2009 @ 5:21

    about 200 words for me. Still writing longhand, still going so slow! At least I am getting something, though.

  • Greg Sep 17, 2009 @ 4:13

    D&D: 503 and an attack on sacred land.
    OFL: 1005, and a couple of short scenes developing character.
    RFW: 1027, a protest and an unappreciated rescue.

  • Joyce Sep 17, 2009 @ 2:30

    SEA – 139 words; HoC – 1241 words in planning. Quietly ticking away on things. It’s way, way too easy for me to get distracted while researching. The genetics behind cat coat patterns and colors alone can waylay me for hours. I love learning, but sometimes, I’d like to just get it wrong for the time being and charge on ahead. But I’m always afraid that I’ll forget and let an error get by me.

    As a side note, in the mail today, I received my copy of the print version of the anthology my first story was published in. Having a book to hold in my hand, that I could open up and see my name in, definitely made the coolness of being published hit home (again). No matter what technology the industry embraces next, a printed book will always be magic to me.

    • Cat (from HtTS) Sep 17, 2009 @ 3:36

      Congrats on the publication. It’s the first step. Keep going.

    • Holly Lisle Sep 17, 2009 @ 8:33

      Huge cheers. Seeing your name in print is one of those wonderful, fun moments that you get to hang onto.

      • SCBrazil Sep 17, 2009 @ 14:13

        Well done and congratulations. How many times have you looked at it so far?

        • Joyce Sep 17, 2009 @ 15:14

          I have a dresser right next to my computer and I’m keeping it safe in there. I don’t want to leave it out where the cat or dog could hurt it. Or air. I’m not too happy with air either. πŸ˜€

          But it means that while I’m working, I can sort of sense it there beside me. And I’ve been rereading my story and realizing I (or maybe just my muse) was really quite clever when I wrote it. I keep finding these moments where I think, oh, huh, that’s some great foreshadowing. Did I really write that?

  • The Pencil Neck Sep 17, 2009 @ 2:20

    0 words.

    First time I haven’t been able to write since 8/8. Had a bunch of work and a conference call that started at 10:30pm and ended after midnight. Got another conference call first thing in the morning so I have to get up extra early to work out. But I have been thinking about the story and I figured out some things I need to add in the next revision.

    • Holly Lisle Sep 17, 2009 @ 8:32

      We create habits of the things we do every day. The rare miss is just that—a rare miss. I’m constantly impressed by your progress.

      • The Pencil Neck Sep 17, 2009 @ 14:28

        Aw. Shucks.

        Thanks. πŸ™‚

  • Clare K. R. Miller Sep 17, 2009 @ 0:39

    551 words for me today. The elf is figuring out the gun–it has no projectiles, just the magic substance–and Cricket is doting on Jack without realizing it. I wonder how long it will take her to figure out she’s in love with him.

    Also, I read a blog post that helped me figure out a plot point that will be happening later, based on one of Cricket’s major personality characteristics–stubornness.

  • Jim Mitchel Sep 17, 2009 @ 0:26

    I have not had a chance to make any updates this week.

    Monday, I wrote a couple hundred words for the second scene in chapter 9, but I realized I was trying to shoehorn backstory where it did not belong. I ended up deleting all that I had wrote, and just ended the chapter at a good stopping point.

    Tuesday I started chapter 10, and wrote 234 words.

    Today I wrote 468 words. Today we saw the King (who was kidnapped in chapter one) awaken in a place where his grandfather took him when he was a little boy. We also learn that the King had a very bad experience there with his grandfather. It’s an experience that has haunted him for the majority of his life.

  • Adam Sep 17, 2009 @ 0:13

    sounds like it was a good night to write for both of us. πŸ™‚

    Moved on in ch 13, finished Tzal’s talk with the Del-Zuran smith, and got him to his meeting with the Blade, a boss of the city. words flowed tonight, and i made up for my below average nights earlier in the week. (want this novel done so i can get into some short stories that i can convert into 2-5 minute 3d shorts and branch off into my other interests as well and not feel stretched thin. I’ve got a plan so that once i finish this novel, i’ll use my dedicated writing time to work on the sequel, and use my other spare time to work on a few shorts and get into the animation side of my project as well).

    1700 words, and my son played very well at his football game. made mom and dad proud. πŸ™‚

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