Last day to send me your costume pictures

Today, midnight EST is the cut off to send Guy your Halloween pictures.  I’ll have the winners for  you on Monday!  Group winners get signed cover flats, and grand winner gets an ARC of BLACK MAGIC SANCTION!  I’ve got all the pictures up now, so if you don’t see yourself there and you sent me a picture, send it again.  😉  Rules and how to submit are at the website.

For those who have been participating in NaNoWriMo, I finally have page count!  If you’ve not been to the drama box recently, I began plotting out the next Hollows book the first of the month.  (explained in previous posts in excruciating detail.)

Yesterday I finally finished my plotting and started actually writing the thing.  Taking my one page of notes on chapter one, I spent the morning writing out the dialog, then in the afternoon, I turned it into prose.  Today I’ll take my one page of notes on chapter two and do the same, and in about three to four months, I’ll have turned my 27 pages of notes into a 500 page manuscript.  I don’t usually keep track of word count, but since I know a lot of you are for NaNoWriMo, I had six pages of dialog/short action (1363 words) and turned it into 12 pages of prose (4182 words)

So what does a page of my dialog look like?  Well, I was going to show you the cover of the next Madison book today, but here’s a page from ODW instead.  This is the beginning of chapter six, page 78 in the mass market, and it’s dialog between Rachel and Marshal as she enters Carew Tower to attend a meeting with a Mr. Domo

pg 78

I write dialog fast, so I just use notations for the character names, and don’t bother with punctuation, even to separate the actual dialog from the action, but since it’s only useful for a couple of hours, I can remember my intent.  And as you might have noticed, I’ve got the date in the header, which is a no-no when you submit, but I like it for my record keeping.  The title is not ODW, either.  Ley Lines don’t say “magic” to the public at large, so no Ley Lines in the finished title.  (I used it in a novella, though.  grin)

The big question some of you might be asking is why?  Why take the time to write out the dialog if you’re only going to rewrite in just a few hours?  For most genres, dialog needs to be fast give and take, especially if you are writing first-person, and this helps keep it quick.  I usually take the first page or so in a chapter to set the scene and Rachel’s mood, but after that, the balance of description vs dialog should be heavy on dialog with one-sentence or one-word reminders of setting and mood.  Work it into the action.  (Sets coffee cup in beam of sun coming into kitchen window says a lot.  Kitchen.  Day.  Breakfast.  Mood–set it down hard or soft.) Use action to the fullest.  

Different genres have different balances, and a gothic romance will have tons more description than an urban fantasy, so don’t necessarily take what I’ve said here as the end-all.  Know your genre.  Take a highligher to your favorite book and see what the author did where.  Find the patterns.

Writing out the dialog first helps me stay on track to what I want to accomplish.  I can choose to put in the description where it needs to be, not right when I think of it, and that makes the process faster.

Today, I’m hoping to get through chapter two.  It’s going to be heavier on description than the first was, but now that the main characters have been introduced, I can do that without tiring the reader or throwing too much at him or her.

Have a great weekend!  See you Monday.  I’m baking this weekend!!



Filed under Drama Box

42 responses to “Last day to send me your costume pictures

  1. Brian

    I love the info about your next novel. Three to four months! That’s amazing. But at the beginning you mentioned Halloween pictures and a question sprung to my mind: What does Kim Harrison dress up as for her Halloween?
    Is there any chance that the fans might see your picture up amongst theirs on the picture page some year? -B.

    • Hi, Brian.

      Unfortunately I don’t dress up for Halloween. We don’t get any trick-or-treaters. If we did, I would. Sigh. I miss it. And my kids are all now too big to take out. (but I remember and smile)

      I might get dressed next year. I was going to this year, but real life smacked me and that took precedence.


  2. HeatherfrmAZ

    I must say I was a little disappointed by the choices in “Best Group shots” this year. I know that you must be thinking oh she’s butt-hurt really I am not. I saw a few groups shots that were better then mine however the good ones didn’t win. The people in the Naruto costumes all bought their outfits from either my store or one just like it. That they would win for matching kinda gets my goat, not to mention the lack of creativity. Anyway just wanted to say to the folks who did the Simpson’s they looked fantastic and also to the Wizard of Oz family. I hope you will do something similar next year. =) Thank you for the opportunity to have had a chance to win Ms.Harrison.

    • Hi, Heather.

      I sometimes get little notes along with the photos that sway my vote. And sometimes, when people send me six photos that are all oversized and they clearly have the savvy to resize, I mentally put them in the “not going to win” pile just because they didn’t read the instructions and I spent way too much time on them because they were lazy. But I take pity on the mom’s who send me a huge file with her child in an adorable pose and just resize it because my mom wouldn’t know how to resize it, either–they are just so proud. The people who send me con photos as Halloween photos get raised eyebrows. So there is a lot of stuff that goes on in the background that not everyone is aware of.

      I expect that I will do it again next year. I get a LOT of enjoyment out of it.


    • HeatherfrmAZ

      I see I see, defiantly your choice without personality wouldn’t be a Harrison Hallow-een contest would it. I am looking forward to next year as always. I think I might have something you will enjoy, and I think I will need to start before Christmas to finish it. =) I still hope that you will come and visit our nice weather during the winter here in AZ. I strongly suggest staying away from the summer though unless you want Al to be at home here. =P

    • I was in AZ in July a few years ago. Uh, I kind of liked it, in a visiting sort of way. (grin)

  3. Hmm. I was wondering about genre’s and descriptions. One of the tips for instance that they give at NaNo to try and boost your word count is to try and describe everything that you can. The author Robert Jordan (epic fantasy) used to send CHAPTERS describing things. Of course, you could build a house with his books… sigh. Tragically, he died while writing the last book of his series. *glances at Kim Harrison and grabs some cotton wool…*

    Anyway, lol, I’m being silly. I don’t always have control of my ramblings, forgive me. 🙂 I hope you enjoy your baking! I’ve got a bread in the oven for tomorrow (sunday). Feeding my work colleagues.
    Have a super weekend!

    NaNoWriMo status: 26570. As of now. lol. Hoping that it will be more by the end of the weekend! I’m attending my first Write-In. My country rocks, we’re 70th with word count!! No new words, i actually took myself seriously with these past few paragraphs.

    • Hi, Alyssa.

      Descriptions would boost your word count, yes. I totallly agree with that. I like keeping things sparce as I can, though. I made bread this weekend, too! I hope you had a great break.

      Nicely done on the NaNoWriMo! I hope to put some page count under my keyboard this week.


  4. Thursday

    I find myself trying out your styles of writing more and more but I kind of cheat by hop skip jumping chapters. it probably weird do you ever do that?

    • Hi, Thursday. Nope, I don’t chapter jump. I have certain chapters that I can’t wait to get to, but I use them as carrots to get through the slower ones. I can see how your style has it’s strong points, too. 😉 –Kim

  5. Marsha

    It’s so nice to be home again! I guess I did have the blues. Thanks for the information on your writing techniques. I might even try this NaNo thing next year myself. It would definitely be a challenge. Have a great weekend!

  6. Thanks for sharing your “process”. When I first starting writing I saw whole scenes, but not a lot of dialog. That has now reversed. I credit you with that shift, actually. Back at one of the RWA conferences you said something about doing the dialog first. I pondered on that idea and gave it a try. I find it helps me get to the root of the characters’ issues sooner rather than in the last edit.

    • Hi, Jana.

      Wow! That is too cool! And I hear you about getting to the root of a character’s issue early on. That’s one of the reasons I like doing dialog first, too. Sort of like putting your character on the couch and saying, “tell me what’s bothering you.” (grin)

      Continued success with your work!


    • Thanks!

      Going one step further from the couch routine — sometimes I conduct “Group Character Therapy.” I take a few of my quieter characters out for a beer. I get them talking to each other while I take notes. Weird, but it works. Lots of interpersonal dynamics can be revealed that way. X secretly hates Y. Y thinks Z is a hottie, but too old for him. Etc. Etc. I don’t use this technique very often, but has proved helpful when characters just clam up.

    • I’ve heard of people doing that, Jana! It looks like it would be very effective. Cool!

  7. Jason in FL


    I totally use your dialogue thing but have modified it to my own needs. I actually write each chapter in Final Draft in screenplay form, and then go back and rewrite with prose.

    It really works for me at least.

    • Hi, Jason. That sounds like it would work great. And when you’re done, you probably just have to brush through your earlier draft, and you’ll have a screenplay! –Kim

  8. Phil

    NaNo next year is going to be my goal so i’m practicing some now writing a story with one or two, um, time shifts, sort of beginning a year from now, then flashing back so the reader understands what events led to the protagonist’s near traumatic reaction in the first scene, and then going forward from the first scene’s time line to the conclusion. I’m focusing on dialogue at this point and filling in the narrative later.

    Anyhoo, this exercise has whet my appetite for next year’s NaNo, oh and if I stay awake the rest of the month, lol, I may even get my 50,000 words. 😉

    Oh, and i have loads of respect for all you guys doing NaNo, and wish you all luck! 🙂

  9. SeattleRobin

    I’m almost caught up in Nano! After being stuck yesterday morning, this morning flowed easy peasy. (It’s still crap, but it was flowing crap.) Wrote 3500 words, and broke the 20K mark. I’m only 260 words behind now! Can’t believe I actually made it this far…

    I was fascintated when you mentioned writing dialogue first the other day and going back and filling in. So it’s great you made a whole post about that and how it works for you.

  10. Great stuff. Keep it coming. 😀 I’m over 18K with Nano. Yay! 😀

    What are you baking? I thought of baking a cake or cheesecake from scratch. Haven’t decided which yet. 😀

    • I almost made ginger cake, but went with pretzels instead. 😉

      Nicely done with NaNo! I’m still slogging with about 8000. (grin) That should change this week. I hope.


  11. Kylie Ru

    Haha, I guess I could’ve waited a day about the my dialog question. Thanks, though! Actually, the current scene I’m writing with Nightshade has two lines of dialog since she’s by herself. Also helps with this particular story being third person.

    Baking sounds fun! I’m gonna study for tests and chill this weekend.

  12. Meagan Francis

    Hi Kim!

    I have taken to keeping your website open on my lap top while I write. At this point you might have several questions, such as, “how come?”, and “are you stalking me?” The answers to those very valid questions are, “I don’t know,” and “sort of”. I’m hoping that the result will be to keep me motivated and inspired, and not to perpetuate my procrastination. Now that you’re sufficiently worried about my mental health, I guess I’ll get to the point of my rambling, which is that while I want to tell you that I love your stories, and have distant hopes that one day I’ll be receiving emails from fans telling me the same, I also have a writing question.

    I seem to have hit a rather large wall (possibly a building?) with writing in the third person, so I’m giving first person a whirl. While you’re doing your dialogue draft, do you include Rachel’s thoughts? I’m just curious about what you do for sections where the main character is alone.

    Thanks for thoughts!

    Very apologetically (for the stalking and the rambling) and sincerely,


    • Hi, Megan.

      That’s wonderful that you write, and I’m honored and flattered that you are using my work as inspiration sometimes. 😉

      Do I include Rachel’s thoughts in my dialog draft? You bet, but that is the area that changes the most from dialog to prose. What do I do when the main character is alone? If you pick it apart, Rachel isn’t alone very often. Jenks is there a lot. I like working one off the other, but writing her alone or being introspective takes a lot more time than changing dialog to prose. Kind of like shifting to a lower gear.


  13. mudepoz

    I always got a kick out of listening to my writer’s group woes. One sees the scenes first, then hears the dialogue. Probably because the git sets her scenes here in the US, and has to ask about idioms 🙂 Another recently was having a battle writing a battle scene. She wanted it done, she wanted to kill off the baddies, and move onto somethng she thought would be more fun. No go. Not until she promised the baddies they’d get to return sometime in the future.

    I honestly think these women should be taking antipsychotics, but then, I do enjoy what they write. A couple have now had some of their shorts accepted 🙂

  14. I get what you mean about dialogue sometimes i find myself writing just dialogue because it pops in my head so quickly and leaves just as fast, i then go back and add in the action bits. hmmm i might dig out my adictophone…
    hey i keep forgetting to mention, i dont know if you remember me asking you ages ago months ago actually (you probably dont the amount of people you talk to) if you’d be in Cinci around July 2009 but i did eventually get there in September. Didn’t spend much time in the city as was staying in West Chester, but went to a game and got a red Cinci cap and saw the fountain which is just gorgeous all lit up at night. Also went to Renfest which we dressed up for. I really didnt want to leave for more than one reason when the time came.
    btw nano 20,022 words
    Rachel – UK @}~

  15. Suzanne

    Hi Kim, again, I’m loving the insight. It’s always neat to see how other people work. I’m grappling with my descriptions right now as I draft, especially how much is enough/too much , since it’s steampunk, so that’s sort of UF meet GR, right? So I just go halfway inbetween each? LOL

    Baking. Ummmm. The tot wants to make pupkin chocolate chip oatmeal dried cherry walnut cookings for thanksgiving (they’re very good, actually). I’ll probably take her to catch “where the wild things are”

    Happy weekend!

    ~Suzanne and the tot

  16. Devious Minx

    Hi Kim!
    I have just discovered your writing and I’ve been having a wonderful time burning through your Hollows. (Sorry to have missed you in Minneapolis—heard about it the weekend after the fact.)

    It has been really interesting to read about your writing process. Like you, I’m a planner; though being a beginner writer I’m not on your level of organization as of yet. I was just wondering if you leave room for creative inspiration at this point in your process? The kind that sneaks up behind you and smacks you upside the head when your characters would rather be doing this instead of what you had planned. I don’t seem to have the self-discipline to stick to the original plan (even if it was a good plan) when the adrenaline rush of creativity hits me. How do you deal?

    • Hi, Minx.

      I’m so glad you’re getting something out of my plotting techniques. Thank you. Do I leave room for creative inspiration? Absolutely! It’s all creative inspiration, and I usually have to rewrite my outline a couple of times as I go to take advantage of the bursts of inspiration.

  17. Shanda

    That’s very interesting in how you write the dialogue. Make sense too, you can get the flow of the conversation(s) going, make sure it makes sense, and then rewrite it as actual “convo”. Im thinking about getting into writing too and always wondered how I could handle conversations btw characters. I was also thinking about something else. I know that in the Hollows series, Rachel Morgan is usually the lead in a first person type of narrating. Kim, how would you handle two characters being the star narrators of a book in a series? Would it be first person? Would they be introduced before each chapter? Have a great weekend!

    • Hi, Shanda.

      That’s cool you want to get into writing. I hope you do. You asked about two characters narrating? If you’ve been published before, you can get away with writing them both in first person, but I’d suggest that you fall back to the traditional third-person point of view.

      Good luck!


  18. I LOVE all the halloween costume pictures that were submitted! Everyone did such a good job- I especially love the carved pumpkins that are Hollows themed 🙂

    thanks for explaining the dialogue writing. I was always curious as to why you wrote out all the dialogue first- now I know!

    Have a great weekend, and treat yourself to a gingerbread latte or something!

  19. Thank you again. I do hope you gather all of this and put it somewhere. It would be a tragedy to lose these bits of insight. Your teaching skills are excellent.

    Want to write a lab on microsatellites for lay people 🙂

    • Hi, Mud.

      I think I’m going to ‘re-tag’ the posts and let the blog save them for me. But yes, it’s a lot of info that I don’t want to lose.

      And thank you about the teaching skills comment. I tend to get too impatient to make a good teacher, I think. –Kim