What I'm reading: One Last Breath, by Laura Griffin
Thanks to Patrick for his helpful tips on editing yesterday. Lots of meat there.
Quick wildlife update: A glimpse of red in an aspen outside our bedroom caught my eye. I didn't recognize the bird, so I mentioned it to the hubster. I could sense skepticism as he asked me to describe it. I'm sure he thought I'd seen one of our regular visitors. And, of course, it had flown away by the time he came upstairs to look for himself. He poked through his field guide and showed me 'what it probably was'. I said no. It showed up a little while later, and indeed, it was a new bird. Not only new to our house, but one he'd never seen before. Ever. A Red Crossbill. Points for me.
I will confess that not a lot of writing got done yesterday. Our stalwart crew of two showed up with a jackhammer type device to break out the tile in the kitchen area. Actually, not a lot of thinking got done, either. However, on a serendipitous note, they had to take out the old range to get the tile out from underneath it. In doing so, they found that there was a capped gas line already in place, so they won't have to deal with installing a new one for my new gas range.
Also, the installer for our window treatment showed up on schedule, so he was in and out putting up our shades. We should have a dark bedroom—maybe I won't be up at 5:30 in the morning anymore. And with a covering for my west-facing office window, I can continue to work after 6 PM.
However, I did work on the manuscript Monday.
Plot Points – which, for some reason always makes me think of the Jimmy Buffet song, "Boat Drinks" only I hear it as … "waitress I need two more plot points…" Because a scene needs at least three plot points to justify its existence.
I've had lots of ideas, and lots of plot points I need to get across. It becomes a point of deciding exactly when, where, and how to put them on the page. It's kind of like having this huge pile of construction materials in the garage. Eventually, they'll all be put in their proper places, and we'll have a shiny new upstairs.
But you can't just use whatever's on top. The person who arranged them did it with transport in mind. They had to fit onto his truck, and they had to be balanced so they wouldn't topple over in transit.
Those materials are something akin to the ideas I stick on my idea board. Things that need to happen somewhere in the book, although I might not know exactly where in the beginning stages of writing. In the scene I was working on Monday, I had a number of things to reveal to the reader.
The considerations: Reveal through narrative or internal monologue, or reveal through scene, with two characters interacting. And when to reveal them, remembering that you can reveal things to the reader that you don't reveal to a character.
For example, before the book begins, Grinch's ex-wife and her husband are killed, leaving him as the custodial parent of his biological son. But he hasn't seen the child since he was 18 months old, and they are total strangers. Grinch is doing his best, but he appears to be an incompetent parent to Elizabeth, the heroine (who is, of course, the consummate maternal figure). Does Grinch tell Elizabeth outright? Does he reflect on his fate so the reader understands, but Elizabeth is still in the dark? Or maybe their respective children talk about it and tell their parents. All will get the point across—that Grinch is dealing with fatherhood on a trial-and-error basis.
Or another fact—why Grinch is living where he is, in his childhood home. I want the reader to respect Grinch's parents even if they never appear on the page. There needs to be a reason that they wouldn't rush home as soon as they discover their grandson is back in their lives. I've decided that before the book begins, his parents had decided that they'd had enough of the rural life and wanted to spend their golden years globetrotting. They didn't sell their home, but Grinch hadn't lived there in years. Nor had he paid frequent visits home, given his line of work as a pilot for a covert ops team. But it's the perfect place to raise a child, so he moves in. When should the reader know this? When is it important enough to appear on the page, and how should it get there? Is this something that should be saved for an intimate moment between Elizabeth and Grinch, or could it help the reader understand the story better if they know this early on?
I've mentioned writing chapter 6 from my villain's POV, the first time he's actually on the page. Looking at it, I'm wondering if the plot points in that chapter might be needed sooner. Since the chapter is virtually independent, it would be simple to say, "You're now chapter 3."
The contractors have been making minor adjustments to the order they're going to do the work. They've decided that given the layout of the house, they can't lay the hardwood from the back bedrooms (our offices) until after they deal with the kitchen. While, I don't want to see my contractors experimenting to see if they want to put tile or hardwood in different areas of the floor, or save the installation of the toilets until last, from a writing standpoint, it's nice to be able to move plot points around to see if revealing something earlier will make the plot stronger, or if it should be held back.