Monday, September 17, 2007




WRITING STUFF: DID I FORGET TO TURN OFF THE STOVE?

Well, maybe I just forgot to have my character complete an action which - if left unaccomplished - would have catastrophic or unintentionally funny consequences in the real world. Or maybe I rewrote something, forgetting that everything in the known universe is connected, and when I didn't correct everything down the line, the whole thread of existence was threatened.

Loose ends need some tying up, or at least a sort of gathering and tucking.

Some memorable examples from personal experience:

The Romance That Went Nowhere. In this scenario, a Main Character or a strong supporting character has a romantic twinge or encounter of some sort. In the real world, they would follow up on this, but in The Book (you know, the one you're writing) you forgot all about it and it just disappeared. Wait a minute - that kiss meant something, didn't it? Didn't it?

The Zombie Subplot. You are just typing along, doing revisions and edits like crazy, and that subplot you decided to get rid of gets excised thanks to highlight and delete. Well, most of it, anyway. But the reference to it three chapters on is still there, a lonely undead reference to confusion…

I Love You. What's Your Name Again? Naming characters is such a personal thing. Baby books, phone books, your relatives and favorite writers, characters and pets can all provide inspiration. But if you decide to re-name someone, remember to change all references to that particular name. I have read real, published books where the MC starts out with one name and inexplicably has another midway through the action.

Only Her Hairdresser Knows for Sure. It was like the name - when you changed your MC's name from Betty Sue to Magdalena, you changed her golden locks to raven tresses. Or maybe you just forgot what color her hair was when you referred to her shiny brown bob in Chapter Two, but had the handsome and daring Brash Hardly grabbing her long, titian hair in Chapter Four. Oh, and was Brash always bald?

The History Time Forgot. Sometimes I do a little data dump of history up front, getting warmed up for the real story later. Parts of this historical essay can be important later on, but other parts, like her father's occupation or the story about a childhood trauma, might just be me, setting the stage for myself. If they stick out and have no relevance to the story, go back and get rid of them or they'll distract your reader, who somewhere is still wondering about those historical incidents that never showed up again.

The Stuff You Left Out Went Bad. Sometimes it's the other side of the coin you have to worry about. Don't leave out the important details because you know them. If it doesn't get written, how can your reader know?

Now, did I forget to turn off the printer before I left the house? You know how those old bits of electronics heat up…


THREE BEAUTIFUL THINGS

A fabulous dinner party at my friend Nancy's. Five of us celebrating with excellent food, a wonderful lime cake, and a promise of more celebrating in a few weeks.

Getting all the laundry done throughout the day and ending up with everything clean and folded. Clean sheets on the bed!

Happy Birthday to my friend Bill Sanders - an icon of the furniture design world, raconteur extraordinaire and all-around great guy. And I loved his new haircut, too!

10 comments:

bunnygirl said...

Well, the Romance That Went Nowhere isn't necessarily an error. Just maybe too true to life. ;-)

Kate Thornton said...

Bunnygirl - that's too funny! Maybe you're right!!!

December/Stacia said...

Ooh, I love salmon steaks...


My forgotten stuff is usually the aftermath of action scenes. I need to go back in my WIP because my characters somehow managed to destroy a cafe--in front of witnesses--and yet not a word was said to them about it by police.

Kate Thornton said...

Stacia - those pesky destroyed cafes that the police don't bother with - yes, those are the ones! (And salmon steaks - mmmmm!)

Bernita said...

SO true, Kate!
~Now did I spell her name Lillie, Lilly or Lily?

Kate Thornton said...

Bernita - Hah! It was "Rose" all the time!

Zany Mom said...

Guilty as charged on all accounts!

::blushing::

Kate Thornton said...

Zany Mom - if you're making these same mistakes (like all the rest of us!) it means you're writing, and that's a good thing!

PS - Love your latest adventures!

Zany Mom said...

Yes, I'm in first draft heaven. Very hard not to go back and peek, LOL.

Current spot is a bit of a mess, but I can fix it later. On we go!

Angie said...

Oh, man, I definitely do this if I'm not careful, and sometimes even if I am. [headdesk]

If a story's too long to keep everything in my head, I keep a notes file and jot down anything I'll need for later. Info on each character, major and minor, including things like age, appearance, profession, what their home looks like, whether their an early bird or a night owl, how they like their coffee (or tea or whatever) and whether they call it a "couch" or a "sofa." Plus a timeline, location details, info about relevant groups and organizations, tech notes for SF, magic system notes for fantasy, cultural notes for either of those genres, and anything else I just know I'll forget later if I don't write them all down now.

Which still leaves me to eradicate things like zombie subplots (love that term!) on my own, but at least the little details are noted down safely, LOL!

Angie