Telling Myself the Story

So I have now accumulated enough Nita plot that it’s all over the place.  Think putting together Ikea or any multi-part kit: You have all the pieces but they’re all spread out; you know how to put them together, but you keep checking the directions; you’ve counted the connectors and you’re pretty sure you’re short a couple, except you’re doing it all in your mind, which cuts down on losing the screws, but ups the screw-up level.  It’s time to take a step back and consider the big picture.

That’s when I tell myself the story.

“This story is about Nita who loves the island she lives on and the people who share it with her and who is determined to protect it and them.  Then one day, a friend of hers is killed, and as she investigates she gets a new partner and meets a man who’s not real and two guys who are green . . .”

And then I just keep going, trying to mention everything I’ve already written and how it fits in. It’s not a synopsis; those are much shorter and much more efficient.  This is me, telling myself the story so I can get a feel for the shape of it.  I’ll go back and change things as I remember them, fill in details as I think of them, find the big plot holes and put asterisks on them, all just trying to get the shape of the story in my head.

And along the way, miracles occur.  For example, I now know what Nick found when he was going through that desk in the nightclub.  (Remember the nightclub scene?  I posted it ages ago.)  I backed into it when I was thinking about another problem: “Wait, how do they find out about X?”  It’s in the desk in the nightclub, of course.  I’ve solved problems I didn’t know I had, too, like how does everybody know Nick’s the Devil when he consistently says he isn’t (yet)?  Because when he got to town, somebody recognized him and told a key character who passed it on to Witherspoon, who assumes it’s a joke and mentions it to Mort, who calls Nita . . . .   I mean, sometimes the Girls are just geniuses, that’s all there is to it.

Something else odd happened while I was half asleep, waking up this morning, and thinking this through: I called Nita “Sophie.”  (Not to be confused with the Sophie from WTT.)  It’s always been one of my favorite names, but she was so much softer in my mind this morning because of the name change that I seriously considered it.  Then I woke up the rest of the way.  I’m not sure I want Nita softer.  More likable, maybe, but not softer.  The woman is going to be sleeping with the Devil, she’s going to need all steel she can muster.

So I’m still telling myself the story, smoothing it out.  The climax is a little long–lotta stuff to wrap up there–and the beginning runs way long, but there’s definitely a book here, if I can keep all those plots in the air without dropping one.  It’s getting closer.  I’ll probably only have to tell myself this story another dozen times until it makes sense in my head.  Hey, it could be worse.

I could have a job that required me to put on underwear.


57 thoughts on “Telling Myself the Story

  1. And tights.

    I’m lucky I have a job where I don’t have to meet clients, so dress code is casual.

    A manager once had some clients come in and just sent round an email warning us and she told everyone tomorrow is not a good day to decide to come in wearing a bikini.

    Good luck with the story, just remember to keep the good stuff, the magic and snark that is you. Leave the fun in.

    I recently read a collaborated novel, by one of my favourite authors, I’m pretty sure she wrote the outline (I liked the idea) and the other author fleshed it out. So it was missing all the fun and good times her books usually promise. So disappointing.

    “That will never be you never ” Clutch your books to my heart

    1. Yep, Mollie has already told me that after I go, there will be no ghostwriters using my name. At first I thought, “Well, if it puts the kids through the college, what the hell, I’ll be dead.” But then I realized that stuff like that just ruins the name because no matter how good the ghost is, it’s not the original voice. So assuming she manages to keep the books in print, it’s a smart thing to NOT dilute the earlier books with money grabs.

      As for the rewrites, it’s more organizing the snark. Disorganized snark is just flat out annoying. Or as Bob once said about my characters, “Do they ever do anything but talk?” Uh, sometimes they have sex.

      1. There is also the eating, collecting of really cool stuff, painting and of course the music.

        I’ve read your books with Bob Mayer and they were different to your solo stuff, but still lots of fun.

        The thing is, there is only one you, like the One ring, we read all your drafts, just waiting for a book. Pale imitations need not apply.

  2. I think this may be the answer I needed to a story that’s eluding me, even though our processes are very different. This particular story started out as a romance novel, but there wasn’t enough Stuff for a novel, and not enough romance for a romance, and it was also written before I understood my process and my definition of what has to go in a Gin Jones story. And then it was reworked, again as a novel, but this time as a mystery (which was a subplot originally) with only a slight romantic subplot, and still there wasn’t enough Stuff and I didn’t really like the resolution (whodunnit). And then it was reworked as a mystery novella, which is where it is now, and the killer changed, and the key to figuring out whodunnit changed, and I like the general idea of the story, and it’s got the right elements, but now there’s TOO MUCH Stuff for a novella (but not really enough for a novel), and it’s maxed out on the acceptable word count for the anthology it will be in, and I still have several scenes to write and several others to flesh out. And I’m looking at it in a sentence-by-sentence mode, and I don’t think that’s helping. I need to tell myself the story in big picture terms and figure out what I can lose and what I need to keep and how to work the key to the mystery into the story without adding much to the word count.

    Definitely food for thought here. Thanks!

  3. Watching Dr Strange on DVD. Wish that they’d not cast Tilda Swinton. It is jarring.

    I’m so glad you’re feeling what you need to keep going.

    1. I loved Tilda Swinton in that, but I’ve never read the Dr. Strange comics, so that may be why. I had no expectations.

  4. Ok, I’m dying. I’m dying because I read “Nita is a girl who loves the island she lives on,” and it kick off for me, “I’m a girl who loves her island…I’m a girl who loves her people…” and of course start giggling (what, I have toddlers and yes, the music is amazing, shut up). So then I go look up the lyrics for that part and die even more because OMG JENNY you rewrote Moana!

    I know a girl from an island
    She stands apart from the crowd
    She loves the sea and her people
    She makes her whole family proud
    Sometimes the world seems against you
    The journey may leave a scar
    But scars can heal and reveal just
    Where you are
    The people you love will change you
    The things you have learned will guide you
    And nothing on earth can silence
    The quiet voice still inside you
    And when that voice starts to whisper
    Moana, you’ve come so far
    Moana, listen
    Do you know who you are?

    Who am I?
    I am a girl who loves my island
    I’m the girl who loves the sea
    It calls me
    I am the daughter of the village chief
    We are descended from voyagers
    Who found their way across the world
    They call me
    I’ve delivered us to where we are
    I have journeyed farther
    I am everything I’ve learned and more
    Still it calls me
    And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me
    It’s like the tide; always falling and rising
    I will carry you here in my heart you’ll remind me
    That come what may
    I know the way
    I am Moana! (ahem, Amanita)

    Ok, it’s not perfect, but it’s close and I can do re-edit this if my phone would let me strike through and bold and little boys didn’t keep coming in to show me their rocket ships and ask about breakfast.

    1. No, but really!
      They’re both girls who love their islands,
      they’re both the daughters of the village chief (but NOT princesses), and
      they both have to fight the encroaching darkness.

      I really amuse myself sometimes. ??

      1. I’m trying to picture Dwayne Johnson as the Devil . . . . Actually, Dwayne Johnson can probably play anything that’s larger than life.
        But I’ll stick with Miller as a placeholder. He broods so well.

    2. I love Moana. It may be my fave animation ever (The Emperor’s New Groove has been my standard: “Why do we even HAVE that lever?”).

      1. Um, the two movies I put on for my youngest on our drive up to Reno just now was Emperor’s New Groove and Moana. ??

    3. I love that movie so hard. None of that princess crap, just a girl being who she is and saving her people because of it. Also the music is insanely catchy. I’ve had Where You Are and How Far I’ll Go in my head every day for the last three weeks (probably because of the job wait limbo and intense need to move, but let’s not get psychological).

      Moana is an excellent role model for your kids. 🙂

    1. I am so impressed that you’re building a boat from a kit. I build a lot of things, but never anything that would have to FLOAT. Although come to think of it, I live on a lake. I bet if I bought a boat kit, Richie would come down from Vermont to help me build it. Hmmmm.

      1. You just got rid of some of the yarn and now you want to build a boat?

        I’m reminded of one of the early John Irving novels where he’s always building better bookshelves rather than writing.

        ; )

        (if you finish this book, I bet a lot of us will volunteer to come to NJ and help you build a boat for your pond. It will be like a barn raising in celebration. When You FINISH the book.)

  5. Our church is updating it’s video tech, and my hubby is basically the video committee, and SOMEHOW I have been dragged into this mess. We have the new equipment, and now we have to put it all together to record. We basically have a line drawing as our only guide. I went to the local Radio Shack SIX TIMES Thursday. And it’s still not all working… I’ve been praying for divine intervention.

    1. Try to find the manual online, also search the equipment model number on youtube and online. If you are having trouble, someone else will have to and hopefully put all the helpful info to save other people heartache.

      Otherwise there should be a helpline, find out where the equipment came from and look up their customer service number or email them for help

      Good luck

  6. Wait – nightclub scene? I swear I read every post you ever do, but nightclub scene?????

    Link pretty pretty please?

    1. We’re in the process of revamping the website and moving most stuff over here, and I have no idea where anything is at this point. It was the sequined nun ninja club thing. I’ll see if I can find it.

        Because I distinctly remember somebody asking if they’d known Nita had a sister named Keres before. (The scene comes after the scene in the bar with Keres and the Chinese food). And somebody else quoting the “And I’m the carrot?” line. (I remember all praise; I’m pathetic. Of course, I also remember all criticism.)

        1. I know Keres because you had her give Nita a top, was it black sequinned? don’t remember a nightclub. thought I’d read everything.

          1. Yep, black sequinned top. Then she met Nick at the bar where they went to the nightclub and burgled the office.

          2. I remember Nick rummaging through a desk. It may or may not have been in a nightclub. And it was early on in the writing, I think.

          3. Yep, that’s the one.
            It’s been a year and a half that we’ve been talking about this, so it’s no wonder why everybody here can’t remember every single scene I’ve posted, but I knew I’d posted it.

        2. I don’t think we got the actual nightclub burglary scene, but I remember her meeting Nick at the bar because of the sequinned ninja nun bit. And then I had to go re-read The Island Of The Sequinned Love Nun and Splashdance Silver, where the nuns might not be Sequinned, but they are Sparkling. And frequently violent.

        3. I really don’t remember offices getting burgled. I feel like the first time I saw Keres was when Nita stopped by to get clothes and Keres was really excited about it…?

          1. Yep. And then she went to the bar to get Nick, and then they went to the nightclub and burgled the office. Sigh. My writing is not memorable. Oh, well, discovery draft.

          2. We didn’t. We got up to them leaving the bar, and then the rest of it never made it up because… I don’t remember.

        4. I do not know this scene.

          Are you having secret postings at 4 am and not telling the rest of us? Because I do check at 4 am.

          1. Nope. I used to stash the links in the last line of the post, though. Might have been one of those.

        1. Me neither. And I remember the Chinese food VIVIDLY. Also Keres. And a debate over whether Keres and (forgetting which of Nick’s attendant demons, but the gay one) would get it on.

          I really don’t think you posted the scene.

          1. It was in one of the early-on draft posts.

            Nita went to Keres for help with an outfit and then met Nick at the nightclub – the main part I remember is the sequinned nun part.

          2. Well, you say you don’t have favorites… but do I have sequined nun ninjas?

            No, no I do not.

            ; (

          3. See? A whole website filled with women with bad memories.

            We don’t need to worry about spoilers. : )

  7. I’ve been in slogging-but-calling-it-cogitation mode lately on my WIP. I even read through the 50K words I have so far, hoping it will jostle something loose so I can move forward and finish the last 1/3 of the book. Now I think I need to tell myself the story and not gloss over the back half the way I’ve been doing. That may do the trick.

    Thanks so much for sharing your process. It helps to have things to try when my current path isn’t working.

  8. I remember Keres and the Chinese food, but not the nightclub. It seems like sequined ninja nuns would stick in my memory…

    1. Oh, the art in that movie alone is stunning. Plus Girl Power. And the music is absolutely nuts; “You’re Welcome” will stay with you forever.

    2. I haven’t seen Moana either. My daughter saw it with friends and my son didn’t seem interested. Eventually I’ll see it.

  9. I thought it was just me. I, too, do not remember the nightclub burglary. I don’t remember sequined nun ninjas, either, and I am sad. The world needs sequined nun ninjas.

    1. I know the nightclub scene was in there because somebody here commented on it.
      So now I have to go dig it out of Act Two again to prove that you’ve all seen it before. Except that I’ve rewritten it, so you might not recognize it anyway. Argh.

      1. Yay, we get to read another scene. Sounds like we win! And I’m another voice in the chorus that sequined nun ninjas don’t ring a bell at all, and they certainly sound memorable.

  10. Just chipping in to say I don’t remember any sequined nuns either, (except the one wearing flamingo tassels) looking forward to the post when you find it.

  11. I remember the nightclub scene. Wasn’t there also something in that scene about Nita and a (possibly hidden?) nightstick?

    1. Yes, you have an excellent memory. She has a baton that Keres got her for Christmas the first year she was on the force.


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