The Ginger Rewrite

There was writing last night.  Not a lot of writing–though if one considers I added five hundred fifty words to a scene, I guess you might consider it a lot.

I finished rewriting the first scene in my current work in progress, the scene where Annie departs for school.  The first part of the scene was good:  it hit all the right notes and set a tone I set out to achieve.  Other than cleaning things up here and there and streamlining a few sentences, it remained the same.

Where I expanded was later, in Annie’s bedroom, where she’s looking over her things one last night–for the next few months, that is; it’s not as if she’s going away forever–and her father comes up to speak with her.  It was a good scene on its own, but as I was told by my beta reader, it was lacking something.  So . . .

Oh, you wanted to see what I was working on?  Well, look below:

Oh, you wanted to see what I was working on? Well, look below:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“Are you going to miss this?” She turned around and found her father stood in the doorway, watching her. “Do you want us to send you anything from here?”

Annie looked about the room, taking it in, considering her father’s question as she decided not to mention her previous thought. She shook her head slowly. “I think of anything, I’ll send Mama a message.”

Her father nodded. “I am going to miss you.”

“Are you?”

Victor was somewhat taken back by the quickness of Annie’s reply. “Yes, I will.”

“I’ll miss you as well.” The right side of Annie’s mouth twisted upward into the faintest of smiles. “Mama, too. I’ll miss you both.”

A few awkward moments of silence filled the room as Annie and her father gazed at each other without speaking. Victor didn’t know if Annie was being her normal self—quiet and contemplative—or if she were truly upset. It was impossible to get her to admit her feelings at the best of times, and Victor knew better than to press the issue now. The last thing he wanted was to see his daughter off on her great journey with her angry at him. “I do worry about you, you know.”

If there was one thing about her father that was true, Annie was aware that he worried about her. Even during those times when they had little to say, when he was away with his job, he always called home and asked of her well being. He does care—if he could only show it more. “I know, Papa.”

“And you’ll be away on your own, alone, having to do so many things for the first time . . .” His attention was drawn to the bay window. “Meeting so many new people . . .”

It wasn’t difficult for Annie to see where her father’s trailing statement was leading. “That’s true, Papa.” She twisted her head slightly to the right. “But I’ll be careful. You know I will.”

“I know, but . . .” Victor was almost squirming in his need to speak.

Annie decided to relieve her father from his dilemma. “But he’ll be there—yes?”

Victor nodded. “Yes. Your Ginger Boy.”

She’d wondered if this was the real reason for her father coming to her room: perhaps not, but it was enough to bring him upstairs. “There’s nothing to worry about with him, Papa. I’ll be fine.”

Given an opening, Victor was ready to voice his concerns—after a question. “When will I learn his name?” He raised an eyebrow. “Soon?”

“Mama knows his name; if she wanted you to know, she would have told you.”

Victor shook his head as he chuckled. “You women.” He rubbed his chin slowly as he met Annie’s unflinching gaze. “I know almost everything you’ve told your mother: you’ve known him for years and he knows you—”

“Yes, Papa.”

“But you don’t know him, Anelie. You’ll find seeing this boy in your dreams and then out of them are completely different experiences. Which is why—” He breathed deeply before continuing. “I worry.”

Annie had heard these same comments from her mother two weeks earlier—was it possible she’d spoken with her father? She dismissed the idea; the words coming from her father were not her mother’s. “I’ll be fine. I have nothing to fear from him.”

Her father wasn’t quite convinced. “I worry you’ll end up hurt.” He tapped his fingers together. “It is possible.”

She shook her head. “No, it isn’t.”

“Anelie—”

“Nothing bad will happen, Papa.” She almost cracked a smile to put him at ease—almost.

At this point arguing with Annie was going to lead to a confrontation, and that wasn’t what Victor wanted. “All right; I’ll take your word. I know what he means to you.” He chuckled again. “And I know when you’ve made up your mind, I shouldn’t try to get you to change—” He tapped his fingers against his legs. “Particularly where he’s involved.”

Annie did think it a little unusual that her father didn’t push his opinion harder, but his final statement said it all: he knew he wouldn’t change her convictions, and he accepted them. Maybe not fully, but he does. She went over and slowly slid her arms around him. “Thank you, Papa. It means so much that you trust me.”

 

And there he is:  The Ginger Boy.  You’ll learn more about that brat about sixty thousand more words into the novel–or will you?  Actually he’s hiding in plain sight, because one of the things I’ve changed up in these first few chapters is to not hide things.  I tried that and it wasn’t actually working.  While I’m not coming out and saying things–okay, I will come close to that later–if I’m gonna tell the tell, then I’ll tell it.  Tell it in a way that makes sense, but at the same time doesn’t show everything.

Yeah, it makes sense that things will get said by people who aren’t part of the Normal Group.  You have to show a little difference here and there to make the characters come into their own, to allow them to be who they are.

Hence some rewrites–

‘Cause you’re not always going to do it correctly the first time around.

The Pounded Road

The evening wasn’t the right time to try and get things done:  I was pretty much out of it by the time I returned from work, and most of the time my brain was only dimly responding to stimuli.  I did listen to the Shrine Auditorium recording of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway while looking over notes, but the music sort of washed over me and left me calm, rather than bringing me inspiration.

You have nights like that.  Sometimes it’s best to lie back and take it as it comes to you, because to force the situation is to invite trouble.

But during the day there was a lot going on in my head.  Not just from fixing programs and the like, because that was going on–including a last minute fix that came to me about five minutes before I was to leave the office–but I do have moments of downtime, like . . . when I head off to the bathroom.  I always use the handicap/unisex washroom because it’s large, and there only room for one, so I’m alone with my thoughts, and there’s never any need of worry that people are going to freak if they hear me talking through lines in the other stall.

After all, some of the things I’m discussing with myself can be . . . scary.

And I also use the single bathroom to minimize the stench of decomposing flesh.  Damn those scary ideas.

And I also use the single bathroom to minimize the stench of decomposing flesh. Damn those scary ideas.

I managed to work out scenes that I knew needed rewriting in Act One.  The first one was suggested, and it made sense:  it’s when Annie is getting ready to head off to school and her father is in her room saying goodbye–but there is no mention of a certain boy that the whole family knows about because Darling Daughter has been dreaming about this kid for close to ten years.  And no father is going to mention this fact to his daughter?  Nope, nope, nope.

Then I was given a quick primer in Bulgarian family names and their gender suffixes by Jeno Marz, a fellow writer who knows a lot more about that sort of stuff than me.  I made some notes so when I came home I could look this up as well and make changes where needed, and sure enough:  the information had been there, I just didn’t bother checking.  Damn.  My research creed is straight in the crapper now.  But a huge thanks to Jeno, because getting it right is half the battle.

(This also makes me realize that Annie’s middle name is completely wrong, and that she also needed a patronymic, which I added–and which a certain smart-ass school sorceress will use without asking if she could use it.  Bad Mistress of All Darkness.)

Most importantly I removed a scene from the novel, because it’s not needed.  If you’re going to show and not tell, then when my kids are sitting in a dinner in Russel Square having lunch, a recapping of what they’d done would be far better than just telling people.  That’s another rewrite that’s needed.

But what about that new scene you said you were going to add, Cassie?  Well . . .

As the Magic 8 Ball says, “Ask again later.”  Like tomorrow.  See you then.

Slipping the Creative Gears

Some days you hit, other days you miss.  It’s impossible to stay on top of everything, what with all that goes on in life anymore.  Yesterday was busy for me:  up for breakfast, shopping, meeting online with friends, watching a little TV, dinner, and then writing–

Yeah, about that last.

Last night was another of those frustrating moment in writing where it seemed like nothing I wanted to write came out quite the way I expected.  I’d thought out all the stuff in this scene ahead of time–which I normally do–but it just wasn’t happening how it was in my mind when I put it onto the paper.  It was, in a word, a mess.

"No, their suppose to invite them to sit down, not sign a murder pact in blood!  Damn you all to hell!"

“They’re suppose to invite the others to sit down and talk, not sign a murder pact in their blood! Damn you all to hell!”

Now, I will admit I was partially distracted last night by The Lost Weekend, which was playing at low volume as I–and I use the term loosely–wrote.  That probably played a big part in what I was doing wrong last night, because when I should have been tap-tapping upon on my keyboard, I was getting yanked into Ray Milland’s plight with the bottle and imaginary bats eating mice as he watched in horror.  And falling down some stairs while trying to pawn his typewriter, which now that I think about it might have been a clue for me to hang it up at some point during the evening.

This has happened before:  not the distractions, but the inability to get things out the way I want.  It happens.  There are times when the juices don’t flow, you can’t write your scenes as they should be written, and everything has a stilted feeling that leaves you a bit off-center from reality.  It’s not a lot of fun, but it’s normal.

At least I think it is.  It certainly felt frustrating.

I know–oh yes, I do–I know there are probably a few people saying as they read this, “But, silly, this was your characters telling you they didn’t want to do that, they wanted to do something else.”  If that’s the case, they can rewrite the damn scene themselves while I’m at work and save me the trouble of having to rewrite nearly five hundred words.  The character are never going to tell me they want to do something else, because they aren’t real:  they have no life save what I first give them, then whatever comes from others reading them.  No, my kids are stuck waiting for me to tell them what to do–just like actors in a movie who don’t know what is coming up thirty-three scenes from now in the movie they’re filming.  Though if it’s a Micheal Bay movie, it probably involves explosions.

This gives me something to look forward to tonight.  Come home, cook dinner, put on music, repair this lonely mess of words, then continue writing the scene.  Keep the distractions to a minimum and pull out what should have came out last night.

And stay away from movies about the DTs.  I have enough problems as it is.

Dark and Stormy Write

Right before the alarm went off I was dreaming that I was writing about the strange dream I’d had.  It was full of people looking for things to do, and people pissed off that nothing was getting done–on, and a couple of cable guy who never showed up on time, who would then show up right when you’d just left the house after the appointment “block” was over, and claim you weren’t home–which, of course, you weren’t, because they didn’t show up when they were scheduled.

No one was offering to juice me up, let me tell ya.

I wonder if the reason I had such a weird dream was because I was so entirely not happy with what I wrote last night?

Now, after the excitement Sunday–I do use that term loosely–yesterday was very strange.  I was suppose to meet up with a friend online, and when they did show, they were so busy doing other things in real life that I could have used the two hours I spent waiting for them to write.  But, like a fool I didn’t.  That sort of set me off, and for the rest of the day, and into the evening, it was hard to get the flow back.

But it was a dark and stormy night . . .

But it was a dark and stormy night . . .

Oh, I did write.  But I wasn’t happen with it.  It felt uneven as hell.  I had things I wanted to say, but those things just weren’t there.  What came out seem to stutter, to form with an incomplete voice.  Whatever was coming out didn’t seem like me.

Sure, I was getting distracted, and that’s my own fault, but of late I haven’t felt like listening to music, and that’s been affecting me when it comes to laying down the tunes.  Music has always helped me through some bad times, but these days I feel like I’ve heard it all, and when I try thinking of something new to listen to, I kind of twist my head to one said and thing, “Naw, I don’t want to give that a try.”

The one thing I did do last night was push the story over one hundred ten thousand words.  I didn’t push it that much, but that’s okay:  there is another chance to fight the good fight tonight.  Another chance to sit down at eight PM and get my thousand in before ten.  Maybe even rewrite a little of the mess I did last night, because I was also dreaming that I was very unhappy about having to rewrite something, and that’s very likely a direct reference to what happened with my story, rather than within the story.

So, on 30 January, I will have one thousand blog posts completed.  That’s next Thursday.  The novel won’t be finished–I think there are more that ten thousand words left, though I could be mistaken–but the end for the fire episode will come to a completion soon after.

I have a good idea what comes after both those events are in the slush pile, so to speak.  Something wonderful, you ask?

You’ll have to wait and see.