Hurricanes and Roving Thug Block Parties

Image of Hurricane Dorian is a cellphone screenshot from WeatherUnderground.com

Imagine you live in a neighborhood where, from time to time during the autumn, roving thugs invade the entire area. They pour into your house and the houses of everyone else in the neighborhood, stick guns to your head, and for a period of a week or more hold their guns to your head and the heads of anyone else who is with you, threaten to destroy everything you own and to kill you and everyone you love — and you can put shutters up on your windows — but if the thugs are serious, that won’t stop them from doing what they’re going to do.

One of three things then happens.

They do nothing, getting bored with their game, and just go away.

They trash some places but not yours, kill some people, but not you… and then they go away.

Or they destroy your stuff, or kill you.

They might come back again several times during the same year. Might just disappear into the woodwork for a while — but you KNOW they’ll eventually be back.

Well, the thugs are in my living room right now. Our sky is gray, it’s raining, and there are intermittent gusts of wind bending the palm trees in front of our place.

I KNOW Hurricane Dorian is supposed to turn.

I KNOW.

But you look at the size of that monster, and to the outer bands that are already over us, it’s very hard to NOT think, “Weather forecasters have been wrong once or twice before about hurricanes… and what if they are this time, and what if it doesn’t?”

And even if if does, there’s another one already building out there.

This needs to become Florida’s State Song.

It already is for me.

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MONDAY. Ugh. But words in spite of that

The chaos has expanded.

My writing time has contracted.

In spite of which, I got 1136 NEW words on the Dead Man’s Party revision, today, which came out to half a scene.

At the moment, it’s going to have to do, and I’m glad I at least got some words, even if I didn’t get the 2000 I wanted.

Chaos, after all, will not be circumvented.

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The last few days have been wordless because of the ongoing chaos, which still has to get a lot worse before it can start getting better.

Today, though, I managed to write Chapter 9 — 1956 words. Again because this is still inside the first twelve chapters where I had not yet figured out the story I was telling or where and when it took place, these were all brand-new words, and from the POV of Laurie, the brand-new character who picks up a part of the story I needed but mostly missed in the first draft — that of the Caravan Volunteer.

I like her. She’s too young for the job she’s taken, but she’s tougher than her years. And she’s going to be a very cool secondary hero.

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Still all new words in the type-in revision. Today was a brand-new Chapter Eight.

Five, Six, and Seven were three different takes on the same event — the point where things go from “wow, that was pretty bad” to “okay, the world has now officially fallen apart.”

Chapter Eight brings in the character who WAS my primary protagonist in the first version, now named Cali (folks who have taken How to Write a Novel will know her as Amanda).

Today, I got to play around inside her head a little, to see how she’s been coping after the Fall, and to see how she’s planning on dealing with the novel’s Big Bad (nod to Joss Whedon for the term).

I like what I got.

Personal stuff is still chaotic.

The only way out is through. So I’m head down, pushing through.

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I knew this would happen.

The raw first draft of the novel was 50,718 words in length.

I figured during my read through revision that I’d add 10,000 words (because in revision, I always end up adding words — my first drafts are thin).

So I thought, Hey, I’ll shoot for 60,000, but I’ll give myself a little extra elbow room on this one, just because.

So I set my top limit plan at 70,000 words.

As of today, if I continue as I’m going, the novel is going come in at 81,000 words.

Eighty. One. Thousand.

My line-for-scenes build-out gave me 34 chapters, same as the raw first draft.

But this time I know what’s going on from the very beginning, I know the world I’m writing in, and a lot has to happen in each chapter to get me where I’m going.

I’m contemplating eliminating the three POV scenes for the villain — but that’s still on the table. If I don’t show him from his own POV, it’s going to be significantly tougher for readers to understand WHY he’s doing what he’s doing.

Word count for today: 254 words. It meets my one-chapter-per-day revision schedule.

Those 254 words comprise one full scene from my villain’s POV. It’s my compromise for now. I’ll do the villain POV scenes, but keep them short, tight, focused on his actions.

When this goes out to my bug-hunters, I’ll get feedback on him, and work from there.

 

FRIDAY SNIPPET (this is my current opening to the novel).

[The Snippet Disclaimer: This is raw first draft, Copyright Holly Lisle and All Rights Reserved. Do not quote, review, or bug hunt. The contents of this snippet are subject to change, and during revision I will not see any problems you find here.]

 

In the beginning, there was the Hero. And the Hero moved Heaven and Earth to create a place of Joy and Excitement, a retreat from the Suffering and Toil of Humanity. And the Hero declared that access to this Second World beneath the World — this glorious Underworld — should be made a human right given regardless of race, color, creed, or ability to pay to every human being on the planet.

And so it was done, and all of Humankind rejoiced.

Introduction to The History of The Underworld: The Authorized Edition, by Nathan Ardement

 

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A book with the title Dead Man’s Party is going to have some dark spots, obviously.

It can’t all be PARTY, can it?

Well, today I hit the place where my MC, now named Matt Stark, hit the one-year anniversary of the Fall of the Underworld. And the guy who owned the Underworld apparently has been carrying a grudge.

Today, he punched back.

While I kept writing and deleting, writing and deleting, what I finally ended up with is, I think, a good chapter.

It is however, a dark, mean, pointy chapter.

I’m still on target — one chapter revised to completion per day, thirty-six planned working days to complete the type-in revision. I’m planning to take weekends and some known upcoming Chaos Days off to maintain my health as I go through this.

I’ll note that as with every other day this week, today’s revision was 100% new words. Through Chapter 12, I’m expecting that.

But so far this week, I’ve written over 9600 new words. And I still have tomorrow’s 2000-ish to add to the count.

I’m now tired WITH a headache. So I’m going to do the rest of todays bullet journal list, and then go lie down.

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Today, just like Monday and yesterday, was 100% new words. 2115 of them at final count, probably about twice that many that I actually wrote to get the ones I kept.

Everything I wrote today required new settings, new names, a completely different starting point — every single word was brand new.

So what makes this a revision, rather than a different first draft?

The fact that this time through, I know exactly where I’m going and why, what I have to accomplish with each chapter to get it to the end that I know is coming, and what each scene has to do.

I have my provisional outline, the weight of an entire first draft and entire write-in revision and the brutal crucible of the week spent in the Monastery building my focus outline.

All the crud fell away from the story when I did that, and what I’m writing now is stronger. Better.

Still going to have to have a deep edit by Matt, still going to have to be bug-hunted by my bug hunters.

But… even though every word is new, this is pure final revision, and I’ve been here before with other books.

So…

Today, my Goddess of the Underworld had help from the new secondary character I realized during revision I was going to have to bring in to show the world through the eyes of a normal human being who had been one of those most harmed by the world before the Apocalypse.

I ended up writing about twice as many words as I kept. Had to keep tossing out the “As you know, Bobs” that tried to creep in.

But it was a good writing day. 

Now onto the next stuff.

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Today was another good writing day. 

100% new material, but it flew because in this revision, the whole thing is now growing out of everything I discovered in the read-through and write-in revisions of the first draft. 

Added a couple hundred words to yesterday’s chapter, but everything I wrote yesterday still worked this morning.

Everything else was the start to finish of Chapter 2.

My Line-for-Scene outline is holding together. My characters are stepping up, doing more in this version than they did in the first one. They’re deeper, have more going on, have actual pasts.

And this version of the story is starting darker, meaner. I think this is happening because now I know what brought all of them to this point… and because I’m starting at the exact right point, in the instant before “the way things are now” collapses and all hell breaks loose.

This is a post-apocalypse in which the folks in the middle of it don’t yet realize that the Apocalypse has come. That’s the second shoe.

Right now, only the first shoe has dropped.

And this time through, the story means more to me. It’s scarier, closer to the bone — because this time, I know how it ends, and I know what has to happen before it gets there. This time, there’s no writing into the dark, no guessing.

This time, I already know how dark the darkness is going to get.

Things happen in ways that I don’t expect, but they’re pieces of a puzzle I’ve already seen.

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