Friday, February 19, 2016

Ode to Deleted Characters

In editing my novella, I've realized the irrelevancy of several subplots, deleting two of which has eliminated the need for three characters.

The road trip taken by my main character's mother and stepfather was mildly amusing at best, but without it - and the scenes of her mother berating Lieutenant Bates (kind of funny; imagine Beverley from The Goldbergs screaming at the police if one of her kids disappeared) - their sudden appearance at the denoument is just bizarre and unexplained. (My favorite teacher's "a student just used the word 'denoment'" senses are tingling. She was the first person who ever believed in me; hope I make her proud someday)

But with the exception of the first and last chapters, everything that happens in the story is told from their daughter's point of view. So out they go.

Lieutenant Bates got demoted from "occasional investigating scene guy" to "shows up in one chapter to kick off the plot guy", and his coworker whose name he could never remember (though he thought she looked like a Donna) was written out entirely.

This is new for me, erasing entire chunks of work I strained so hard to make perfect. Maybe a reminder not to stress too much on the first draft?

Friday, February 12, 2016


In attempt to streamline the process of writing my space opera adventure story novel... thing (it's changing while I write it and I don't know where it's going), I'm not researching or coming up with new technology or culture as I write. That doesn't mean I don't research the mechanics of space travel or designing the intricacies of my planets, but if I don't know something offhand, I leave myself a placeholder note [in brackets]. Sometimes it's [minor planet name] or [word for ship underside].

And then sometimes it's things like this:

[space pingpong table]

[space newspapers]

[a six pack of space beer] (I like adding "space" to things)

[maybe do foreshadowing here?]

[fancities shop] (no, I don't know what fancities are, but I know where you can buy some)

[I ran to her, except with feelings and suspense and stuff]

[list of irritating things]

[deliveries, but a trucking term] (I might mean "cargo"; possibly "space cargo")

[ominous phrase that will mean something later]

Oh, this thing is going to be a nightmare to edit. Luckily, the words between these notes seem... less awful. But these always give me a giggle when I read through my first drafts. I found these in a different novella I'm finishing up:

Yet danger and fear hung in the air like an invisible [thing that hangs in the air].

[It's not like I don't know what happens next. Things go all screamy-swervey and they end up crashing into like a pole or something and Petra goes running off into the field. Now let's continue as if I wrote that eloquently.]

Her volume increased [in an inverse ratio of correlation with her feels].

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ode to Awesome Dialogue Cut

In editing a sci-fi novella, I have had to cut out a great many lines which I love, despite my attempts to rework the scenes to keep them in. This, unfortunately, is one such exchange.

Moses wasted no time in issuing his offer. "Yours is a dolorous life spent exploiting those infelicitous enough to be your kindreds, and though I am a man not inclined to emotional extortion under the guise of-"
"English, please."
Moses glared at the arrogant man and spoke with a decorum which belied his seething impatience. "That was English."
"Then modern English, please."
"I have made a pilgrimage to save the human race, and you are doing nothing to help!"

I actually laughed when I discovered this in my first draft. For all you people under 40 (says the 25 year old who happens to have really outdated tastes in music), Modern English was a band, and their song "Melt with You" contained the line "I've made a pilgrimage to save the human race."
Maybe I was channeling too much of the kind of 80s reference humor that I loved about Psych, and maybe it didn't fit with the tone of the work, but I love this conversation and it would have stayed if I didn't have to cut the entire scene.

Excerpts from My Notes

So last night I wrote a scene where a guy basically falls in love. Which must have been difficult for me, as someone strongly anti-kissing books, as I found the following notes in my notebook this morning:

"Research what love feels like. Do not attempt to wing it. You know nothing about matters of the heart."

"Probably gonna end this scene with 'and then the bombs fell.'"


"Words that rhyme with 'comatose'."

Okay, so that last one isn't related to this scene. I don't actually remember why I wanted to look that up. But I learned the word "rugose", which means rough or wrinkled, so there's that.