Writing starts with “I want”

So, it’s NaNoWriMo, and though I’m not taking part, I am just starting a rough draft of book ten and thought it might be cool to detail out what I do as some of you are scrambling for page count.  Mine is zero right now.  I’m way behind.  I just finished the last of my personal rewrites on book nine.  (insert wild happy author dance here) and am ready to rip into the next, so what do I do first?  (disclaimer:everyone writes differently.  I’ve been developing my writing style for over a decade, and this is what works for me.  There’s no wrong way to do it as long as you’re making progress.)

I want. . .

That’s what it’s all about at this point for me.  What do I want to see or accomplish in this 500 page monster.  So today I’ll be sitting down with about ten sheets of paper and a pencil.  No keyboard for about a week or so.  I’m going to go over what I just finished and where I want to be in about three books from now.  I try to write down the gottas for story movement, and even some fun things that make the story interesting.

Since I’m not going to share with you my want list for book ten, I scrounged up my want list for THE OUTLAW DEMON WAILS.  (Yes, I keep everything)  So don’t read if you don’t want spoilers.

Set around Halloween–cause I want to know how Inderlanders celebrate it.

Matalina dies, Rachel does black magic to save Jenks  –Obviously this didn’t happen.  The pixy just won’t die.  (laugh)

Marshal out of the books, and Pierce starts moving in.  (no sex).  —  This one I managed.

Rachel bites Ivy?  Maybe work the demons in this way with a spell or charm?  —  again, this one didn’t make the cut as it’s written, but it still might be used in a later book.  Don’t know yet.

Find out Art killed Kisten and bound Rachel.  —  Okay.  Art did kill Kisten, but it wasn’t good for the story if Rachel had been bound.  But man, it make for good character development when she realized how close she came to it.  Positive, positive.

Work in more demon culture  At least one night with Al  —  Questionable success here.  Work in progress.  Oh, and one night with Al doesn’t necessarily mean sex.  If I mean sex, it will say sex.  (grin)

Robbie comes back to Cincy to take Mom to West Coast to reduce Rachel’s strengths.  yeah.  That kind of happened.

Ford finds Pierce when trying to recover Rachel’s memory.  –That one came though pretty much intact.

Oh, and the main story line fits in there as something like, work with a new species.  Banshees?  Use them to touch on auras more.

And there it is.  Not a lot of detail on the structure or the plot, just wants

Then I wrote up a page on what’s going to limit Rachel in this book:  Winter, so Jenks is curtailed, Robbie takes mom, Trent not going to help, David on a retreat, Witches won’t sell to her.

Another page was reminders:  Trent still not trusting her, Lee-low profile, David and Weres are happy, Ivy, Cormel, and vamps not happy, FIB is worried, the IS is in with the vamps, the coven is watching her, Nick is unknown, Ceri is four months preggers, and Al knows about Pierce.

From that, I can sort of decide who is going to be in the books, but I just keep it in the back of my head at this point.

So for me, it starts with “I want” and a whole lot of time with my pencil.



Filed under Drama Box

45 responses to “Writing starts with “I want”

  1. Pingback: Link Feast For Writers, vol. 30 | Reetta Raitanen's Blog

  2. Pingback: Byrt’s weekly blog ramble (11/19)

  3. Pete Greason

    I don’t know if I am the typical “profile” of your readers, somehow I doubt it.

    Over the past few years as I became reaquainted the the written word. As fan of Tolkien, Donaldson, Brooks, and a member of SFBC, I picked up your book six through it. After reading it and knowing I just “had ” to get the history detail I started at ‘Dead Witch Walking’ and just completed book seven. I had found that I enjoy series and become “attatched” to the characters, to the point of emotional responses, but I suspect that that is your point. I don’t know If I would have gone down this path on my own but can tell you I am very glad that I did.
    Thank you for writing about this wonderful world, and I just hope you have at least as much fun creating it as we do becoming part of it, if only for a few monents at a time.


    • Hi, Pete.

      You’ve got some of my favorite authors listed there. I’m really glad you took a chance on my work, and delighted you enjoyed it. I do have a tremendous amount of fun creating the world and seeing what Rachel is going to do to survive it, but knowing that you enjoy it too makes it all work.

      Thanks again for giving my work a shot. 😉 I grew up reading SF/Fantasy, and I know I pull heavy on that genre in terms of pacing and character development.


  4. Tiffany

    Hi Kim,
    Thanks for posting this – how cool to get to read something like this on a novel you love! It is also a really helpful insight into the writing process. You’re the best 🙂

    – Tiffany

  5. Disco Dude

    Hey Kim,
    Just wanted to say thank you for the words of encouragement, I will take “a slow start doesn’t mean a slow ending” to heart. Also, thanks for showing your writing process to budding writers like me. The dr. said there was just a “touch” of the Swine Flu, we caught it in time B4 it turned “ugly”. Tell Guy “hello” for me, he may not remember me, but he sent me a blue star charm last yr. Okay! Gotta go write! Later days! -Disco Dude

    • Hi, Disco Dude. Guy sent you a blue charm? Dude! You must have done something very nice. He doesn’t give those out very often. (grin) I’m glad the flu is ebbing. I’m hoping I don’t get it this year. Blahhh. –Kim

  6. Jeannie

    Thank you for sharing your writing process. I, my self, will never, nor do I aspire to be a writer. But I do love reading and however you do it, it works for me. I have never read a novel that has pulled so much emotion from me as yours has(I read a lot of nursing research). When things were good I was happy, when they were bad I was sad. Of course I cried like a baby when Kist died too. I think there is a part of each character that most people connect too. I haven’t heard most people say I’m so and so and this character is me. But that everyone sees a little quirk in themselves that is a piece of each character. Hope that made sense(now you know why I will never be a writer). Ooops sorry for my rambling. Anyway thanks for the Hollows and your kindness for letting us in to your artistic world.

    • Hi, Jeannie. It’s my pleasure to share what works for me. I’m honored that you value my work and take so much from it. I put everything into it, and knowing it’s appreciated does me good. I know exactly what you mean about the characters. That’s kind of how I write them:piece by piece. 😉 –Kim

  7. I want… to be a witch!
    lol, 🙂
    Glad to know that I’ve made you smile. It’s the best thing that one can do with one’s day. (That and annoint a CEO of a prominet bank with beer… But that’s a story for another night).

    Thank you for the insight! Personally, I’m a very lazy outliner. I always have the story in my head, i have a beginning, a rough middle and more often than not no end. Which is why I end up with 100,000 monsters that just wont die (nothing professional, just fan fiction).

    Hope you are well, and that you’ve had a great day.


    NaNoWriMo stats: 906 might have been where it started, but as of today, it’s 5092!

  8. RebiNkc

    I did sign up for NanoWrimo, but hate what I’ve written and I was putting together coq a vin in my crockpot and the wheels started turning. So I’m starting over… I better get cracking instead of reading the books I want to read. There’s always holidays for reading. Oh I did take a vacation so I finally got a chance to read Unbound. It’s great! I love Ley Line Drifter, and it was fun to read some shorts from authors I hadn’t read yet, so I’m excited to start my new book series while I want for the next Kim Harrison novel 🙂

    • Thanks, RebiNkc! I’m glad you liked the novella. I really enjoy all the authors in that particular anthology, so I’m glad you’re going to give them a chance, too. –Kim

  9. Sabrina from WV

    Thanks for sharing this. I love these glimpses into your writing process.


  10. David and Weres are happy, Ivy, Cormel, and vamps not happy,…

    Thats the best…lol 🙂

  11. Scott S, Clovis CA

    Thanks for the “inside view”. It’s instructive to those of us trying to get a first novel sold that even successful authors had to figure out HOW to write — proving that it is indeed a personal journey. While we may learn much about the craft of writing, it inevitably comes down to us having to blaze our own trail. Fortunately we can benefit from those who have gone before.

    • Scott, you are so right about the writer having to learn how to do it by doing it. That’s why it takes so long, but when you have it, it shows, and NY will snap up your work. It just takes time. And effort. And attention.

  12. Linda (germany)

    I’m laughing the hell out. 😉

    Please give me more of this.

  13. Phil

    As always I’m impressed with the way you balance creativity with organization so that the quality of your work stands out in the consistency of the story, the intricacies of the plot, the detail given to the characters, and the surprises that await the reader. You give us the unexpected, the imaginative, the thrills, the ups and downs that the characters go through, and so many other aspects of your writing that make your books so enjoyable! 🙂

  14. Frotee

    Uhm, isn’t this more WWBC than ODW?
    (I’m currently re-reading the former, just finished re-reading the latter)

    …you wouldn’t show us the list for book 8, would you? You know, just to give us something to speculate…

    I’s be glad if I managed either 15 or 50 pages this month – that would get either the homework or the diploma out of the way. Unfortunately, I do have to go for quality there >_>
    But it’s such a welcome distraction to read about your progress Kim 🙂

    Greetings from Germany, Carina

  15. suzannelazear

    Hi Kim! The tot and I had to rush to kansas for a funeral so she got to experiance trick or treating midwest style. I have a picture of the tot as minnie mouse, but it’s hard copy and I haven’t figure out how to get it to you yet, lol. I am doing NaNo, but haven’t started yet. Ooops. I’ve actually not starting from scratch but using it as a kick in the pants to finish a WIP and write a proposal for a different project. Well, that’s the plan, LOL. Instead I’ve been editing my stuff for the RWA’s golden hearts, to send out for some last beta reading before I ship them off. Bad Suzi. I’ll have to play catch up. But in about a week and a half I’m going to have lots of time. Sigh. The hubby will probably make me help him build the shed he’s making, lol. The ARCs look fab. 🙂
    ~Suzanne and the tot

    • Hi, Suzanne. Oooooh, shed building! I made one from a kit, once. It stores my firewood. I love it.

      I’ll be waiting for the tot’s picture. Everything closes on Friday next.

  16. Judi in NJ

    Always love insight into a brilliant mind! Thanks for sharing! Get on over to Bitten By Books…they are revisiting DWW!!!!

  17. Lurker

    “Matalina dies, Rachel does black magic to save Jenks”
    Since your series is the only one I’ve ever read more than once (aside from a few Terry Pratchett books), you could say I pretty much know exactly everything in them. So, when I read this I thought, “wtf, when did that happen?!” lol. There was a resounding ‘whew’ after I read the next sentence. Panic averted.
    And your want list just blew my hypothesis about Rachel and binding out the window (maybe?!). And I had several events and story lines to support it too! 😦

    PS: thanks for answering my ‘how do you do your book strategery’ question in a post! hehe

  18. Antonio Rich

    Rachel biting Ivy…Rachel_biting_Ivy…You know what, I’m going to surprise you and not ask (see i Can learn too)…

    You wrote two novels that were never published? That makes(total) what? 9 Hallows(7 published) 3 Madison(1 published) 1 Graphic Novel(not yet published) 6 Dawn Cook books, and 2 never published early books?

    21 novels in 14 years, something like that?

    • Tiffany

      I know, right!! I won’t ask either – no erasers on the forhead for me 😉 …but I haven’t forgotten that Rachel still has those caps (please please put them to good use 😉 ). Plus what about the “maybe work the demons in this way with a spell or a charm” part? My mind is churning that one around trying to figure it out (no worries Kim, it’s very mysterious).

    • OMGosh! I forgot about the caps! One more thing on my “remember” list. (grin)

    • charmedwarrior

      ya i’d hate to see the expensive caps going to waste. 😉

    • Antonio Rich

      Then she says she “forgot” about the caps!? Now, she’s just messin’ with us, Tiffany. Rachel uses a curse to transform into a vamp, maybe…? OK, i gotta stop this, i got stuff to do…

    • Hi, Antonio. No, you added too many books to my total. The two that I wrote by hand were the first two Dawn Cook books. I eventually got them on a computer. (grin) –Kim

  19. Gothar

    Sounds very much like a Christmas wish list. It’s a shame they didn’t give info like this when I was taking English in school. Very well laid out, am more impressed then before.

    • A Christmas wish list is exactly what it is. And I don’t know if they teach how to outline and organize your thoughts in school. I never took any creative writing classes, so I had to develop a system that worked for me. Ten plus years in the making.

  20. Off we go. The BB is working with a bodice ripper, and the lead character is a clam. As in happy as… Now, to turn that into 50K. At least it is unique. I think. Does it matter? Formula is formula, even for a happy clam. 🙂 I came up with the idea, the rest will work on a chapter. The Aussie contingent frightens me, I’m not sure exactly how they are going to do happy clam sex.

    *Kof and snort* Wonder if the pencil wants will help! Again, thanks for the insight. I really wanted to know if you think you might visit the Hollows in shorts once you’ve completed the series? Did you miss the Cook characters, or did some of the things you liked the best just mutate into the Hollows series.

    Mud the nosy.

    • embarrassed

      The clam took off, and is now the longest FB thread of all time. Sigh. I am in so much trouble. It is funny. Sad, because it’s funnier than anything I wrote on purpose. *Grin* That was fun. Now, when is Madison coming out:)

    • Mud, I think you might have the next big genre there. 😉

      You asked about visiting the Hollows after the series ends? I don’t know. I really don’t. I miss the Cook characters, sure, but it’s a fond remembrance. I don’t think I could go back again without re-reading the entire series to recapture what I felt then. –Kim