Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Filler! Late in the Day and Mostly Rubbish

This is truly a rubbish post, but it's what I got and Malasarn did not step up and fill in for filler this time.

I'm working on a new novel and I got stuck with chapter four, not having any real energy to work on it. It occurred to me that I was just showing things happen around my protagonist, that my protagonist wasn't emotionally engaged in any of the action. She was mostly just watching other people, and even though those other people were doing interesting things, my protagonist may as well have been asleep during the action. Certainly I was, and certainly my reader would've been. So I asked myself "What does any of this have to do with my protagonist?" And then I sat and made some notes about how everything that happened in the three scenes that make up Chapter 4 reveal my protagonist's character and bits of her history, and now the chapter has come alive and I want to finish writing it. Win! Anyway, this is a gentle reminder that if your main characters are not active, then your story is not active either. If the action doesn't matter to your main character, the action doesn't matter at all.

Also...there was something else, really there was. I can't think of it now. It was important, too. Damn. Damn oh damn, all gone. Was it "Go Cardinals!" No, though I hope they win.

There really was a second item I wanted to post about, but it's well and truly gone now. Huh. That's what happens when you reach my age, kids. Be warned.


  1. Maybe I was going to remind myself to go back through Chapter 2 and make sure the action there all has to do with my protagonist, too. Maybe I was going to wonder aloud what we'd have for dinner tonight.

  2. The most important question of the day: what to have for dinner.

  3. Go Cardinals!!! WOOT!!

    You do know, of course, that the main reason I am rooting for them is that they named their team after a bird, right?

    They have nifty uniforms.

    Friday dinner is always dinner out with my pals Steve and Michelle at the Peking House in Shoreline. Can't help you there.

    -Alex MacKenzie

  4. I still don't know what we're having for dinner. Possibly we'll eat out somewhere. Maybe drinks and snacks at the Tonarama downtown.

    Maybe what I thought I'd say earlier is that it's hard, when writing a novel without an outline or any idea where it's going, to write scenes that are meaningful when you don't know what the meaning is supposed to be. I think, should I ever actually finish a first draft of this book, that revisions are going to be a very ugly, nasty, headache-inducing bastard of a time. I will shake my fist at Malasarn if that's the case. See if I don't.

  5. Mr. Bailey, I don't know why it brings me joy that you are struggling in this no-outline endeavor. But it does. Somewhere in the back of my mind I still assume that things that are hard are good for us somehow, but really that may not be true at all. And it's far easier for me to try to write a novel starting with an outline than it probably is for you to write a novel without an outline since, really, all I have to do is come up with an outline while you have to write a whole book.

    Also, if I were to get into a spot where you found yourself in, I'd probably make a little jump forward and then just keep going and bring the character back to the center that way, hoping to fix it in revisions. My revisions do tend to be ugly, though.

    I will not talk about the Cardinals. But...Tolstoy!

    And thanks for giving us a Friday Filler!

  6. I also don't know what I will have for dinner tonight. Really I have been thinking about doughnuts all day, and doughnuts are not a proper dinner. And usually I eat about 4 doughnuts at a time.

  7. But how do you know where the center is? The center of what?

  8. I recently lost five pounds running and skipping wine and dessert. And tonight, a doughnut dinner.

    Lately I have been feeling like I know where the center is. But I am constantly going back and revising as I make my way through the first draft these days. Almost every time I sit down to write, I go back to the beginning and run through the earlier part of the story first. Before I move on. To the next page. Heading towards the end. That I rarely ever get to. But when I. Do. I'll send you Cyberlama! Maybe.

  9. I first read that as "I recently lost five pounds running and skipping," and I thought hey, how cute! I wonder if he wears the hooded cape when he skips? And then I re-read the sentence and was, admittedly, disappointed.

    I wants Cyberlama. And a donut, damn you.

  10. I'm an excellent skipper. And I'm also an excellent standing long jumper. I have the legs of a bullfrog. A very big bullfrog. And the mind of a very smart turtle. And I have a cape, which I used to always wear when I wrote. I don't wear it much anymore because I washed it and it turned all prickly and chafes my skin now.

  11. Malasarn, I just remembered your comment about enjoying my suffering. You'll pay for that. Oh, yes, you will.

    But at least the dinner question has been answered. Food from the region of Oaxaca, Mexico with margaritas!

    Next week, if I remember, I will post about the idea of lingering within scenes, and I will give examples of what I mean by that.

  12. LOL; I liked this post Scott. I have those moments myself. I usually cure them with a free write - lots of times from the characters POV - that complains about the segment. Brings up loads of "what if's".

    But really, sometimes you just gotta write what comes to you, and figure out how to make it exciting or relevant after you've moved on.

    And the something else you wanted to post was probably just an encouragement to "write on", even when the words are all you have to offer the session.

    I'm sure even Shakespear had moments where he'd rather be doing anything but writing the next scene. You are forgiven :)


  13. PS: quit it you two. Donuts (notice the proper spelling) are my favorites for any meal.

    I'm drinking my dinner tonight; wine, no cheese; but crackers are also looking good . .

    And Domey; this is not me virtually tapping my toes with impatience. I took my time, after all.

    And Scott; you remind me I need to go accomplish a plotting schedule for my ftf writers group tomorrow. Not my favorite task - plotting. I get lost in research; in the links here and there, and all the questions and possibilities for every stretch of the process.

    I get distracted in: so if THIS happens, then THAT will also occur, and if THAT happens for this character then THUS needs to back it up, and OH SHIT; none of IT was set up earlier so now I have to go back and build that into the character, and foreshadow it, and OMG I can't move forward until I figure out EVERYTHING that could possible happen and . .

    Wait, where was I?


  14. Ah, good point about action. I keep running into that problem with Scales. You know, I really should write about my writing progress and problems and successes here on the lab instead of remaining all lame and absent. :/

  15. And I just read through the comments. Now I want to read Cyberlama AND eat donuts AND read the Detective Book. Why can I not remember the title of that book?

    So, Scott, what did you have for dinner?

    And Donna, is that the proper spelling of donut? I never seem to know the right one.

  16. Hi Donna! Or, should I say Doughnna? Okay, that was a dumb joke. I ended up eating leftovers and M&Ms for dinner. I stopped before hitting the vodka, so I'm pleased with myself.

    Michelle, maybe when I publish Cyberlama, each copy should come with a doughnut! :)

  17. And each copy of "Bread" can come with a meat pie!

  18. LOL Domey; no, that joke was insightful. Its what my sister calls me. But I wouldn't mind reading Cyberlama with donuts. That's a good idea :)

    But that would mean Scotts book Bread should come with - bread. The loaf, not the group, although they were a good group, I think.

    Not sure what Monarch should come with, but Three Eye would have a harvest basket Michelle? I do miss your posts here Michelle :)


  19. Donna, do you mean Thirds? As for Monarch, it could come with a delivery of monarch butterfly caterpillars ready for raising. :)

  20. Who are the Cardinals? And why do you want them to go? And where? I think we should be told.

    (And I really need to check that the character in my first few chapters is doing a little more than just handing around watching minor characters emote...)


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