Tuesday, October 30, 2012

On Sandy: Historic Weather

Hey everyone (including new followers!)--an update from Queens, New York here--I obviously still have power (it flickered ominously for a good two hours, but held on; I'm hearing that we could still lose it) and internet (a miracle, considering our cable tends to go out during a regular windy day, never mind a hurricane). We've had a tree fall in front of our house (not hitting our house, thank goodness, though we jumped when we heard the snap) and we live inland and on a hill, so no worries of flooding here. Our main concern 'round these parts is the wind and the trees. But we in central Queens are lucky.

I'm sure, by now, that those of you outside of New York have seen the images of Battery Park City flooding, the power out in Manhattan, have heard of the thousands and thousands without power. Our subway system is flooding, there are explosions and fires, a hospital on the East Side of Manhattan had to evacuate due to lack of power. Breezy Point, in the Rockaways, has all but burned down. Long Island's roads are impassable. The South Shore of Long Island is flooded. People have died.

As I was watching the coverage during the day and editing my WIP at the same time, several odd thoughts occurred to me, as they do.

1) I hope the trees outside my bedroom don't fall. (This is probably not so odd, considering).
2) If I make a pillow fort, it'll totally protect me. Never mind, I'll just sleep downstairs.
3) Why do we still have power? Shouldn't it have gone out by now?
4) Where are the Avengers when you need them?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Things My Characters Do (Which I'm Now Crossing Out)

1. My characters are always looking somewhere. "Miles looked at..." "Lady Banston eyed the..." "Mady looked at..." As most of the POV is from Miles's POV, then it's pretty obvious most of the time that he is doing the looking, no? Cross out.

2. Characters are turning to look at something (even worse than simply "looking"). "Alex turned to look at..." *shudders* This might be a problem of writing the story as if it were a movie or TV show translated from my mind, where actors invest the characters with life and are pointedly looking at something or moving their heads to see a person. That doesn't work in a novel.

3. Walking. "Miles walked to..." "Alex walked back to..." Yes, walking is essential to life and all, and they would have walked much more in 1800, but walking is not a very exciting verb. Striding. Running. Jogging. Loping. Hoofing. Taking mincing steps. All much more descriptive than walking. You know what's even worse than simply "walking?" "Walking toward."

4. Taking carriage rides. We don't need to see every single carriage ride. It's not like I'd write a contemporary story and always describe them in the car, unless it was essential to plot.

5. Sighing. Think about it. How often do you sigh at any given point of the day?

6. Saying "rather." "You look rather pensive." This might be my way of writing in British understatement. It's a bit annoying ("bit" being another example) after "quite" a while. "Terribly."

7. Becoming integrated into their village too quickly. Seriously. One minute we're acquaintances with the village gossiping about you, next we're chatting away as if we've known each other for years?

8. There's more, but I can't think of it all.

Monday, October 22, 2012


I know a subplot when I see one. Subplots are secondary plotlines involving supporting characters. Sometimes they  link with the main character's storyline, sometimes they don't.

As I have my editorial cap on at the moment--reading my printed out WIP ten or twenty pages at a time, marking it up, making notes, etc.--I'm taking note of what is a subplot and what is not. I'm also seeing that I might need to eliminate some as I go along.

In Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell, Bell says subplots, too, must be written with a character, their desires and a conflict in mind. He didn't mention how much space a subplot should take up or how many there could be in a roughly 90,000 word novel.

Anybody have any ideas?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hard Copy Time: Another Part of the Revising Process

It's time to break out the cute Hello Kitty pens and get scribbling.

There's something playful about scribbling, crossing out, circling, writing notes and questions on a printed out version of your story, no matter how long it is.

I remember the last time I did a revision--Last Request--and I went a wee bit overboard on the highlighting. In fact, I think I even stuck some of those Post-It page marker flag things on it, for whatever reason. I had a color-coded system of highlighting everything, along with scribbled remarks, comments, cursing and exhortations to a higher power.

I can be a little dramatic.

Monday, October 15, 2012

On Sybil

This post contains spoilers. Don't read if you haven't been watching the latest season of Downton Abbey.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I'm Not Moving: Part 5

Disclaimer: I do not own the movie Once or the musical Once or any of the songs written by The Script, clearly. This is purely for entertainment purposes, based on an idea that my friend and I riffed out while cutting through the crowd in Times Square after seeing Once the musical.

Part Five
            The song was finished. The guy pressed a few keys on his computer and listened to the playback. This was a more restrained song that any of his past ones. It was less morose as well. The guy supposed he was moving on from his ex-girlfriend, which was good. But if he was moving on from her, what would he write about now?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Why I Like Tom Branson

Downton Abbey is back, though it won't be shown here in the States until January. Being impatient, I am unable to wait that long without being completely spoiled, so, yes, I have been watching.

I am one of those creatures who loves costume dramas, romance novels about lords and ladies, and historical fiction, enjoying the pretty costumes, big houses and Jane Austen plots of inheritance, marriage and Society--


I find that I love costume drama-romancey-fantasy things more when there's a dose of something different in the mix: a rebellious character or a sweeping social change or a cultural confrontation, an injection of reality and conflict amidst the fantasy of what the past would have been like, if one was rich. This is the root of my own work-in-progress.

And it's because of this tendency that I like Tom Branson, the former chauffeur, now Sybil's husband, on Downton Abbey. Branson represents not only the Irish (being half Irish, this naturally catches my interest), but alternative political philosophies and the increasing upward mobility of domestics. He is that dose of otherness that catches my interest.