So today was the day I was supposed to outline Trudy. I spent the morning with Val on the deck discussing Battlestar Galactica, tattoos, and general gossip, but then she went home and I spent six hours on business stuff, phone and e-mail. Then I crashed for two hours. Then I went to work on the outline.
It’s twelve scenes broken into four acts with turning points:
Three scenes, then a turning point where the heroine cautiously trusts somebody a little.
Three more scenes, then a turning point where the heroine trusts somebody a lot.
Two scenes and then a turning point where the heroine is betrayed.
Three scenes ending with the climax and a fourth scene for resolution.
(Yes, Act Three seems a little light, but the Act Four scenes are short. I still have to graph out the motifs and subplots and figure out how the tension escalates and where to run the romance plot, so I’ll probably figure out Act Three then.)
Then I sent it to Bob for butching up. I was hoping for pointers on the fight scenes but he got distracted by the end where he wants the heroine to save the planet. I said, “No, Bob, it’s a Christmas romance, she restores a little boy’s faith in Christmas and her own faith in men.” He said, “OK, fine, but I really think you need the Ice Station Zebra Ending with your heroine playing Rock Hudson.” I’ve never seen Ice Station Zebra, and I’m not going to any time soon because I’m pretty sure it has nothing that I can use for a romance heroine in a Christmas novella. Which I told Bob. And he wrote: “The key is [The Good Guy in the novella] makes the decision to protect her over getting the X. He loses the X, the Bad Guys lose the X, but he gets the girl and there’s peace on earth because she kept either side from gaining an advantage. You really need to watch Ice Station Zebra– very smart ending.” [I’m using X to protect the real deal here in case some of you read this novella fifteen months from now.]
If you look closely at Bob’s e-mail, you’ll see our main cognitive disconnect: I always assume Our Girl is the protagonist and he always assumes The Guy is. Except this time, we’re not collaborating, and there’s only one POV in the novella and it’s Our Girl Trudy’s. So Bob’s “He decides, he loses, he gets the girl” has this basic flaw. OTOH, I need him to make sure The Guy’s POV makes sense, so it’s good he keeps thinking of this as The Guy’s story. But I’m still not watching Ice Station Zebra. Which I said. Well actually, I wrote, “Get over Ice Station Zebra.” And he wrote back, “I’m just trying to give your girl the most important role. But she can stand around and cheerlead.”
He knows how much I hate cheerleader heroines, so I had to respond. Yes, I know I asked him for help, but I wanted to know how to beat up the Bad Guy and his Minions in a Christmas-y way, not how to have Our Girl save humanity. I was thinking of bashing them with fake reindeer antlers (listen, there’s a reason I need Bob), but he’s fixated on Ice Station Zebra. So I wrote back, “How does nobody getting the X give her the most important role? Especially since her goal is to get a toy to her nephew by Christmas morning?” And he wrote back, “But my way she saves the world.”
There you have it. He thinks globally, I think locally. Well, he was a Green Beret and I was a small town school teacher, so that makes sense. What I wrote back was straight out of that old dissertation: “This is classic male vs female stuff. You want the global win. I want the intimate connection.” And he wrote, “Good, she can be a cheerleader.” That was just trying to start a fight, so I wrote, “It’s a Christmas romance novella. Globally significant irony is not appropriate.” And he wrote, “OK, she saves Xmas. Woo-hoo.” And I wrote, “Still global. She saves a little kid’s faith in Santa. Or something. The personal, not the political, Bob.”
And then he wandered off since I wasn’t going to blow up a major city or fight back on the cheerleader thing. So I’ll go back to him tomorrow or the next day to get the violent stuff I need because he won’t remember any of this. He says twenty years in the service used up his adrenalin for life; I think it might have used up his short term memory, too. And anyway, he should like doing Christmas violence. Maybe strangling bad guys with a light string. That’s Christmas-y.
In other news, I have had no sugar today in spite of the birthday cake sitting on my stove. It helps that it’s the ugliest cake in the history of cakes. I tried that new microwave icing that you heat and then pour over the cake. Every time Val walked past it last night, she said, “Your cake is still seeping.” So we pigged out on cookies and popcorn. But I have been good all day, no refined sugar at all, so I’m going to go hit the treadclimber for an hour and then come back and analyze this outline again for motifs and subplot, answer several more e-mails about covers and the next anthology, and then I’ll probably crash.
Tomorrow, I have to dig out the Christmas music, throw the cake away, and start to write. There will be no Ice Station Zebra.
It’s a plan.