So spring has sprung here in northern NJ, and with it evidently some really hefty pollen. I’ve been flat on my ass due to over-medication for the past two days, although the good news is, I’ve had plenty of sleep, so I’m feeling sprightly today. Also, now I’m just stuffed up, not gasping for air, so HUGE improvement.
My plan for this morning, which I slept through so now it’s afternoon, is to figure out that first 10K/beginning of the first act. It’s running at about 14K which is obviously too long (I can do math), but it’s still in such wonky first draft form that doing a nitpicky edit where I start pulling out adverbs and adjectives and unnecessary sentences wasn’t really going to solve the problem. The problem is, the whole thing needs (to be) tightened. So the following is written and graphed as I’m thinking it through since I have to do that anyway and I need a blog post. That means that the rest of this is long and rambling as I figure it out. You have been warned. (If you drop to the end, I’ll sum it all up in one paragraph, assuming I get to a summing up.)
This first 10K, which from now on will be called the Set-Up, has to introduce Nita and Nick and their goals and bring them together in an uneasy partnership. They’re not going to be fully partners until the mid turning point (point of no return), but it made no sense that they wouldn’t start sharing information once they have a basic understanding of each other and those goals (much like the reader). So the very rough first draft looked like this:
That basically introduced Nita and the problem (there’s a shooting and the major witness says he’s the Devil) in the first standalone scene, then there are seven scenes inside the bar in a scene sequence, and then the beginning of another scene sequence the next morning; that scene is the end of the set-up and turns the rest of the first act into the tentative beginning of the partnership.
The last scene needs to be seriously rewritten, but the big problem is that seven-scene sequence in the middle; it’s ridiculous. So I need to go back and look at that scene sequence as one large scene, even though it’s going be a sequence in the end. I’ve been just following my nose (first draft), but now that section has to have to the coherence of a scene, which means I have to look at those as beats. If I do that, it looks like this:
So it starts with the basic detective questioning. That’s logical.
Then it splits into Nick’s phone call and Nita’s confab with Witherspoon. That starts to weaken the coherence, but does give me a scene in Nick’s POV and the info from Witherspoon, neither of which is a justification for scene.
Then Mom comes in and all hell breaks loose. That’s divided into Nick/Nita/Nick scenes and I’ve switched PoVs in those, trying to get them right. I think they all need to be in one PoV, probably Nita’s, although I like Nick seeing Mitzi when she comes in, in part because Nita wouldn’t see her (description) she’s just think, “Oh, hell, it’s Mom.” Still, even with the move outside time, that’s really one scene.
Then there’s the dinner scene in Nita’s PoV while she’s losing her mind.
And the scene upstairs in Nick’s apt while he talks her down and she tries to put things together.
And then the scene the next morning when it all comes together and she has to accept the supernatural.
So . . .
1. Nick says he’s the Devil and she rejects it.
2. Nick talks on the phone to Hell, and the reader knows he’s the Devil.
3. Nita talks to Witherspoon and learns there’s no logical explanation for what happened.
4. Nita goes back to Nick, but then Mom comes in and throws a fit.
5. Nick takes Nita away.
6. Nita comes back to deal with Mom.
7. Family dinner, trying to make it make sense.
8. Talk with Nick in apt.
9. Talk with Nick the next AM.
I think the first three have to stand as separate beats.
4, 5, and 6 have to become one beat.
And as much as I love the insanity of that scene, I think 7 gets cut. So much fun to write, but I can put the ground covered there into 6 and tighten it up.
That leaves me with 8 and 9; I think Nita needs the sleep and the cold light of day to accept Nick as the devil, but I think I can make 9 basically a coda where she wakes up, sees that it was all real, and says, “I need food” and drags Nick off to breakfast for their first real talk about what the hell is going on.
1. Establish the interrogation
2. Establish Nick as the Devil for the reader.
3. Establish Nita rejecting that idea
4. Bring in Mom and blow the whole thing up.
5. Nick as rescuer, talks Nita down.
What are those Kubler-Ross stages? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. (I googled.)
1. DENIAL: Establish the interrogation in which Nita flatly refuses to believe Nick’s the Devil.
2. Establish Nick as the Devil for the reader, introduce his problem, mild conflict with Belia.
3. BARGAINING: Establish Nita still rejecting the idea that Nick’s the Devil and trying to come up with alternative solutions.
4. ANGER: Mom comes in and blows the whole thing up, Nita angry at first and then terrified.
5. DEPRESSION: Nick as rescuer, talks Nita down from panic and disbelief.
6. ACCEPTANCE: Next morning in the cold light of day, Nita regroups.
Five isn’t really depression, it’s more like terror and panic, but close enough. And I know it’s anger to bargaining, but that doesn’t work here. I kind of like this, it’s the death of Nita’s old world. (Two is out of there because it’s Nick’s PoV and his world is still secure; his doesn’t get wrecked until the midway point.)
So Nita moves from calmly in control of a logical world to facing an entirely new world she knows nothing about, but calmly setting out to master it, too.
That makes sense. The family dinner bit, which I still love, just doesn’t fit. So now it looks like this:
The next problem is that the first scene here is boring. Plus it should be in Nick’s PoV to introduce him. So can I make the second scene here the first one and play the first scene in the background, Nita trying to question him while he’s dealing with Belia? That sounds like a recipe for word salad, but if I could do that, I could get everything done, get Nick’s PoV in the second scene, and then have Witherspoon come in and pull Nita away. Then do the Witherspoon scene in Nita’s PoV, then back to the Mitzi stuff in Nick’s?
Okay, definitely, put 1 and 2 together in Nick’s PoV.
Then the Witherspoon scene in Nita’s.
Then the Mitzi scene, the three original scenes I think in Nita’s PoV. Except that the stuff from the dinner is going in there, too.
Then Nita upstairs in the apt, trying to cope.
And Nita the next morning, coping.
Which means the breakfast diner scene has to be in Nick’s PoV which is okay because he’ll be seeing everything for the first time, so I can get that on the page.
That’s a five scene sequence, which is doable, although those first and third scenes are going to be nightmares to fix. Which means, back to breaking down actual scenes into beats.
I can do that.
Here’s the new plan:
Major rewrites on the first and third, then read through the whole thing with the first Nita vs. Mort scene to see if it makes sense, cutting out everything I can to get to about 10K. Nick gets his PoV in the second scene where it’s needed to introduce the reader to him and to establish that he really is the Devil. The rest of the sequence is Nita’s world blowing up, so it really should be in her PoV. Then breakfast the next day can be Nick learning more about the world he’s in temporarily while Nita establishes her new normal. I can take the demons out of that waking-up scene, put them in the previous scene so that the waking-up scene is basically a coda. Set-up established, all the plots in motion, moving on to the breakfast scene where they negotiate the new normal.
I CAN DO THIS.
With any luck, I’ll have the revised second scene by tomorrow, and I’ll set up the critique post. I’m feeling very chuffed about this. I think I’ll make breakfast.
Nothing but good times ahead.
Nope, that scene with Witherspoon is all information, needs to be conflict. Mom needs to be in there. So new plan:
I love Curio. It makes this global stuff so much easier.