Following up: To Merch, or not to Merch…

I got some truly excellent feedback on offering merchandise for the Ohio Novels ahead of publishing them.

Some of it was answering the “What kind of merch do you like?” question, and the answers gave me some great ideas.

Some of it was answering “Who is the real audience for merch?” and the answer was, Fans of the series. Of which there are none yet, because the books aren’t out there yet.

And some of it was: You know, I’m a writer and I really miss the HollysWritingClasses.com merch.

To which I reply — Yeah. Me, too. I loved my HWC t-shirts, and they’re about worn to death.

So for now, I’m going to bring back the HollysWritingClasses.com merch for writers. I’ll do spiffy products through a shop on my Ko-fi page so they’ll be easy to find.

The Ohio Novel merch will have to wait until the books are in print — at which point, I have some great ideas for what to offer, thanks to you guys.

image_pdfDownload as PDFimage_printPrint Page

Today and for the next few days, I’m going to be writing five provisional synopses. 

What are these, and why would I write them?

The way I write, I have an outline — but it’s very, very light.

Each chapter (which can include multiple scenes) receives one sentence of no more than 30 words to cover the movement of characters through conflict in that part of the story, following the PACTS formula.

PROTAGONIST

ANTAGONIST

CONFLICT

TWIST

SETTING

Or, in story sentence form, Protagonist versus antagonist in a setting with a twist.

This is great in that it allows me to never write a scene in which a character is sitting at a table thinking (frequently whining) about how shit life is.

This is bad in that my characters, in the heat of engaging in interesting action in exciting places, frequently decide to take the story into their own hands, and do things I didn’t plan — and because my characters are both fragments of me, and fragments of things they pull out of the damned ether, their actions can sometimes shock the hell out of me while being worlds better than what I’d planned.

(Occasionally, they kill off someone I love… but I’ve already told that story.)

But back to the Story Sentence process, and two necessarily vague examples of how fighting my Line-for-Scene is making things challenging for Book 3.

1) My MC (main character) and her cat went out to meet with an adorable live teddy bear who was supposed to be important later. The teddy bear was lying to me about what he was doing there, however. My main character saw through his lies, and dealt with him based on who he really was rather than who I’d believed him to be, and a major plot point to a part of the world I thought I understood went sideways.

2) In the very first scene of the first chapter, I’m suddenly writing about trying to save a guy I really didn’t like when I first met him. It was a good scene, and I was happy with it. Then Mr. Unlikable showed me who he really was, and the price he’d paid to become that guy, and all of a sudden I fell in love with the little bastard. Was sitting there with tears running down my cheeks, knowing that he isn’t a throwaway. Instead, he’s a primary character throughout the series — and one of the most unlikely heroes I’ve ever written. So right at the midpoint of the novel where I met the real him, (and where — in general — you known what the story is about for 45,000 words or so) the ENTIRE focus of the second book changed from being about a different character to being about him. So all the shit I’d planned for that OTHER character is being moved around, and will have to be spread in pieces through the entire five books.

I will note that it’s entirely possible to write to a strict outline and follow it.

I will also note that I have never successfully done this.

I’ve always fought against the outline, because if I already know what’s going to happen as I’m writing, in the back of my mind where the fiction lives, that story has already been told and there’s no point telling it again. 

However… I do have to have some big, planned events in place. Stuff that the rest of the story can build around.

For the rest of this week, and maybe some of next week, I’ll be going through and building summaries of what I’ve done in the first two books, picking out those big planned events and deciding how to use them in the next three books so that they fit…

Writing rough 200-word synopses for the next three books (with the understanding that this process is usually as effective as herding cats…

And then, when I think I sort of know where I might be going, I’ll write 30 PACTS sentences (one for each chapter) into the line-for-chapter outline for Book 3.

There is NO DAMN REASON to try this process yet for Books 4 and 5.

Because Book 3, like Books 1 and 2, will turn out to be almost nothing like what I’d planned — but will be all the better for me having to fight the outline to come to the better fictional truth that’s living inside it.

And SOME TECHIE STUFF for FICTION WRITERS

I use Freeter Pro to keep my projects where I can find them. The screenshot below is the current state of the Ohio Novels.

Freeter Pro setup for OHIO SERIES books 1 through 5

The two books at the top are Ohio 1 and 2, which are currently in Complete Unrevised First-Draft State.

With a series like the one I’m writing (which is unlike any series I’ve written before) I discovered that revising each book as I finished it was pointless. I’ll have to know the ending before I can revise the beginning.

In this project, I’m essentially living in the non-magic version of the world, so I don’t have to draw maps — but I’m discovering the physics of the alternate universe as I go — and while I know the magic rules for the story, and a lot of the critters, and some important characters, each of these is bringing new parts of the universe to me as I write.

I just met Crazy Tree yesterday. That was a shock, lemme tell you.

Having Freeter, however, lets me keep this whole project and all its interconnected pieces carefully labeled, and just one click away.

If you’re a writer dealing with dozens of different projects, and you need to be able to find each of them (or each part of them) with one click, this is my favorite piece of software ever. $29 bucks, no subscription. New version updates will require payment, but there hasn’t been one yet. I love this, and recommend it: https://freeter.io/ (NOT AN AFFILIATE LINK).

image_pdfDownload as PDFimage_printPrint Page

Today’s words went well. I love the ending I got.

I already know the revision on this one is going to be big — but everything in it now can wait until all five books are done in first draft.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to begin outlining the third book, using the process I’ve used for the first two — something that, once I’ve done five books with it, I’ll be adding in as an advanced level for How to Write a Novel. (Gotta figure out what the bugs are before I suggest anyone else try this…)

Today, though?

Today I got the right ending.

I saved the cat.

I made myself laugh.

And my little Ohio town just got a bit weirder.

THAT? That is an awesome writing day.


◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Get Holly’s Free Fiction Sampler, plus Weekly Fiction Updates

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Today’s Words Funded by my Ko-Fi Supporters

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Sign up for Holly’s Thursday Writing Tips

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

image_pdfDownload as PDFimage_printPrint Page

I ended up pulling out a lot of words today, but still came up with a net gain of 438.

And tomorrow’s chapter, the last one in the book (I think) is already written. It was, in fact, the first chapter that I wrote. And then I realized that the whole point of this second book was in that one chapter. And that while those events at the beginning of the novel was fun, it dropped a huge part of my little weasel character’s poignant past — which I didn’t even suspect until I wrote that first chapter, and the asked myself, who would go to all that trouble to get HIM? 

Asking that question made me love him, and broke my heart a little, and the deeper I followed where that question led, the better I understood my MC, her past, her family’s past… and her very messy near future.

I would have lost a whole LOT of wonderful stuff by leaving that chapter at the beginning.

So I bumped the first-chapter event back about two weeks, and made it the last chapter.

I guess the finally book will be around 93,000 words, and could very well be finished in first draft tomorrow.

But for today, I’m done.


◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Get Holly’s Free Fiction Sampler, plus Weekly Fiction Updates

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Today’s Words Funded by my Ko-Fi Supporters

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Sign up for Holly’s Thursday Writing Tips

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

image_pdfDownload as PDFimage_printPrint Page

Over on my Ko-Fi page, I’ve opened up the idea of early-access Ohio Novel merchandise (link opens in new tab) — stuff like T-shirts or coffee cups or other things that would help fund my weekly fiction writing hours, while at the same time giving potential urban fantasy readers some tiny peeks into the world I’m writing.

The merch will be sold exclusively through my Ko-Fi page, and will help with the funding of my fiction-writing time. So if you came here first, head over to my Ko-Fi page to get the details. 

But THIS is the place to ask questions, brainstorm ideas, and let me know what you’d love to see (or wear, or drink out of) in the replies below.

I think this could be fun. Weird. But fun.

So here are the two questions I’m asking:

  • What do you think of the merch idea?
  • What would make cool merch?


◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Get Holly’s Free Fiction Sampler, plus Weekly Fiction Updates

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Today’s Words Funded by my Ko-Fi Supporters

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Sign up for Holly’s Thursday Writing Tips

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

image_pdfDownload as PDFimage_printPrint Page

I bumped up my projected word-count to 95,000 words so that I could still have the progress bar show what I’ve done. I got 888 words in spite of deleting a bunch. While writing today was liking rollerskating uphill against a headwind, but I still got words.

Here’s hoping tomorrow will be less of a pain.


◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Get Holly’s Free Fiction Sampler, plus Weekly Fiction Updates

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Today’s Words Funded by my Ko-Fi Supporters

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Sign up for Holly’s Thursday Writing Tips

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

image_pdfDownload as PDFimage_printPrint Page

As always, I started by cleaning up the last stuff I wrote yesterday, just to get back into the flow, and realized that what I was writing happened during the Great Flood of 1913 — and got a fair few extra words building the relevance from that bit of backstory. 

AND made myself cry while I was writing, which is pretty annoying. It’s hard to type when your eyes are drippy and your throat is tight.

And then I landed back in my main character’s present, tangled in with the hell of a mess she’s just discovered in her past that’s in the process of colliding with the hell of a mess in her present.

And which is all tangled up with her lawyer, who she’s discovered has been lying to her in a big way.

Good words, good writing day, and I’m now over 90,000, and still have a ways to go.

I’ve given myself all five days next week to finish this, and I really want to hit that deadline. 

If I have to, I can go maybe another five after that, but in the back of my mind, I’m already pulling out events from this book and the first one that are going to have to start dripping their fallout into Book 3.


◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Get Holly’s Free Fiction Sampler, plus Weekly Fiction Updates

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Today’s Words Funded by my Ko-Fi Supporters

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Sign up for Holly’s Thursday Writing Tips

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

image_pdfDownload as PDFimage_printPrint Page

I ran over my planned words today (1250) because I got hooked by the scene and couldn’t make myself stop.

My MC got to spend some time with someone she’d thought was a hallucination, found out a bit more about how she’s surviving in a town where things keep trying to kill her…

And the best stuff is still to come.

I have, I think, about four more scenes to write to get this book done, which will but it at, best guess, about 95,000 – 97,000 words.

That’s a nice, meaty novel length.

And once that’s done, I’ll build the line-for-scene outline for Book Three.

I figure I should be working on that by next Friday (the 25th of February).

I love so much the way this is coming together. I wish I could be more specific. Wish I could give some snippets, maybe an early first-draft chapter or two like I used to.

But I can’t screw up my pseudonym by attaching myself to it. I have to give this series a legitimate chance of starting out fresh, with a brand new author name and no publishing history at all.


◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Get Holly’s Free Fiction Sampler, plus Weekly Fiction Updates

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Today’s Words Funded by my Ko-Fi Supporters

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Sign up for Holly’s Thursday Writing Tips

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

image_pdfDownload as PDFimage_printPrint Page

Some days you launch out of the gate (or the bed) with wings.

Today was that day. I shot out of the shower, downed my coffee, and hit the desk with the document already open and at the right spot from yesterday — and the words flew.

Better yet, while writing exactly what I knew I needed to write today, I also managed to surprise myself, bring in a second encounter with a character introduced in this book who just today told me who and what she is, and does… 

And my characters broke my heart and made me proud of them at the same time. 

Tomorrow will be tying in what I’ve discovered over the past few days with what I planned.

And pushing hard for the conclusion, where I know a lot of the specifics, but am still missing the big one.

But I know what this second novel has to accomplish when it hits the end, and just as my Muse (right brain) tossed me the pieces I needed today, I’m trusting it to do the same during the last few days I put into this first draft.

I also moved my deadline back by five days.

I’m going to run over 90,000 words. I want some elbow room on the timer while I do that.

ONWARD!


◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Get Holly’s Free Fiction Sampler, plus Weekly Fiction Updates

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Today’s Words funded by my Ko-fi supporters!

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Sign up for Holly’s Thursday Writing Tips

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

image_pdfDownload as PDFimage_printPrint Page

I made my word count and more. Better, though, I discovered what the Second Room wanted to show my main character, and I left myself with a couple dilemmas she gets to deal with tomorrow. 

I found out about my town’s past and a few of its important past inhabitants — and the effects they’re still having in the present.

And I set myself up for that “barbecuing Grandpa” last line in the chapter that’s going to come back again in a couple of future books.

This was a GOOD Tuesday.


◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Get Holly’s Free Fiction Sampler, plus Weekly Fiction Updates

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

My Ko-Fi Funded Today’s Fiction Words

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

Sign up for Holly’s Thursday Writing Tips

◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈━◈

image_pdfDownload as PDFimage_printPrint Page