The Joy of Socks

I’ve been thinking about socks lately because one of my fave online shopping places has new designs in, and I’ve been buying one design I love–“Fight Like A Girl”–for everybody. And at roughly the same time I’ve started sinking into who Nita is.

I know she wears all black because she’s so driven that she doesn’t have time for clothes, and because it absorbs heat, and because it fits her mood most of the time. Also, if everything’s black, it all matches. But I thought she’d have a secret lust for color, and that her big sister would know about it, and she’d buy her something that was wildly colorful that she could keep hidden. My first thought was underwear, but I’d done scenes with Liz and her t-shirts and underwear and it didn’t feel right.

And then I saw the “Fight Like a Girl” socks, and I remembered that when I’d gone in for the eye surgery, the nurse looked at my feet and said, “You win best socks of the week” (different socks, same store), and I thought, “That’s it. Socks.” And then I started searching for the Socks That Nita Would Wear.

They’re fabulous. Continue reading

Research is Hell

Yesterday, I forced myself to go to the diner for Nita’s breakfast. Today, I made the huge sacrifice to go back for Button’s lunch. It’s not Nita’s lunch because Nita’s lunch is insane, but Sandy’s Diner (and my diner) still serves a damn good regular burger. So here’s Button’s lunch: Continue reading

Get Your Knives Out


So I’m not a fan of scenes that run on too long. I’m not a stickler about it, but in the first act, I try to keep my scenes under 3000 words, 2500 even better, and then in the last three acts never top 2500, in the last act even shorter. I’ve been rewriting the breakfast scene which has to do a lot of heavy lifting, and I like it. But it’s 4400 words. That’s ridiculous. It must be cut.

I am still in the darling stage with it. I want EVERY DAMN WORD. But at least a thousand words have to go. Your job, should you choose to accept it, it to tell me where it lags, where it’s confusing, where you’d cut it. Feel free to be brutal. As always, I won’t respond for twenty-four hours–YOU WANT ME TO CUT THAT??????–because I need to detach for distance, but all feedback is more than welcome.

Yes, I know I keep exploiting you. But you keep coming back. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Scene is here.

So, About Bodies . . .

How’s by all of you? We’re having a blizzard here. The power went out for two hours, but I was already in bed typing, so I just put Mona and Milton under the blankets with me–Veronica has issues and so does not burrow–and we stayed fairly cosy. It was wonderful when the lights came back on, though, along with the heat. I love electricity. And now back to work.

Which is figuring out Nick’s body issues. Continue reading

Drafting: Discovery to Truck

The process of moving from a discovery draft (which is just writing to see what the story’s about) to a truck draft (which is an early draft that isn’t great but is probably good enough to publish if I get hit by a truck) is mostly about deconstructing a scene by beats to see what the hell is in there, and revising that to what’s supposed to be in there, once I’ve gotten a good overview of the act or entire book. I’ve done about a zillion drafts of the first breakfast scene, but they were all discovery drafts. It’s time to get serious about this sucker. For one thing, this scene over 3900 words and for another, it goes nowhere. it’s an overwritten, wandering, bloviating mess.

Here’s the rewrite analysis:

Continue reading

Act One: Getting Closer

So this week, I cogitated.

My first act was too long and too wordy. My fourth PoV was introduced too late. The threads of the main plot and the subplots weren’t coherent. The book didn’t know what it wanted to be. So I opened my Nita Curio file and did some mapping.

Story mapping for me (not necessarily for anybody else) is taking the essence of a scene–Protagonist and Goal, Antagonist and Goal, who wins, what plot does it move?–and reducing it down to a Curio card, and then arranging the cards in chronological order in columns that identify the setting. My curio cards look like this: Continue reading

It’s All in the Reflexes

I’ve been reading The Official Making of Big Trouble in Little China and finding it tremendously comforting. I bought the book because it’s about my favorite movie of all time, but I’m finding it comforting because it’s reminding me to swing as wide as I can while telling the best story I can, and then let go and let the Girls in the Basement take it from there.

Continue reading

Setting and Placeholders

Sooner or later, I need pictures of my settings. This can be difficult because I’m making stuff up, so I end up doing really sloppy photoshop work. As with all the collages I use, the setting pictures aren’t art work, they’re brainstorming exercises (while I’m working on them) and touchstones (while I’m writing.) The best thing about them is the process: searching for things that feel like the setting (instead of look like the setting), thinking about what the picture needs, the details that my characters would see, the way the environment around it looks . . . all of that helps me get past “It’s a bar on a rainy cobblestone street.”

The book got far enough this week that I really needed the exterior of Hell Bar. Continue reading