Highly Professional Writer at Work

So I’m rewriting the opening, trying to smooth out the cuts I made, and I realize that Nick is going to have to smite something because it’s referred to over and over again (and because it sets up the Rich scene later).  But I don’t want to add much to the scene and I really like the one-two punch of the hellfire on the palm and then dropping the facade.  So he smites something small in between those, only a second’s action, for a three-beat.  It took me several minutes to figure out what and then to do the research, but I am a professional and I will spend minutes on things if it’s necessary.  Like this:

This is the teddy bear that Nita’s grandpa put in the bar after she gave it to him when she was little.  It’s not great looking, but come on, it’s twenty-five years old.  Also, the one in the bar is really faded.  Its name is Binky.  Nick smites it which causes some bitterness.  (“What the hell did that bear ever do to you?”)

I think this is the one that Nick replaces it with later:

Jennifer Crusie, professional writer since 1993.


39 thoughts on “Highly Professional Writer at Work

  1. Smite is one of those words like “stoop” as in sitting on the front stoop. My ex once told me there was no such word because he hadn’t heard of it. I like “smite” and I think I will start using it. I’ll have to find something to smite later.

        1. To defenestrate someone is to throw them out a window (as happened to a disliked official in prague some centuries ago – they survived). I also think it’s great that there’s a word for that. Language is a lovely thing.

          1. I knew they threw someone out of the window; just not who and why. It’s linked for me to the Diet of Worms, on the sound basis that they both sound absurd – never mind what they mean.

          2. Thanks! I thought it meant getting rid of fleas and lice. Just because it sounds like that sort of word. Like vermillion sounds green, even though it’s actually some other color that I can never remember bc the word SOUNDS green, dang it. How can it not be green?

          3. I’ve got to say, I’m another person who knows that vermillion is red, but I *feel* it’s green. Maybe some sort of linguistic interference with verdigris?

            I do that with a lot of odd, outlier colors. I know with my head that puce is a dark purplish-red (the color of blood from flea bites, dried on the sheets). But unless I think about it, I feel it’s a bilish sort of green that reminds me of vomit. (puke=puce?) The other one is chartreuse, which I always have to think about, but I think I’ve got it down now at yellow-green (like the liquor, made of herbs).

            I’ve never had problems with cerulean, but I think that’s because I like blue.

            There’s some sort of green pottery glaze famous in Korea that starts with c, I think, and that one is also a bit shaky in my head. Ah, celadon. That one’s easy because I think of celery (although it doesn’t look like celery very much at all). Another gorgeous color that I love.

            I guess I don’t have much interest in the reds and yellows.

            Why do our brains work the way they do? LOL.

          4. I’m getting better at vermilion. It’s one of the colors in the Japanese crayon box (well, the English version — it’s kind of cool that they write the colors out in Japanese as well as English). It’s a very traditional color here, too. It’s used for the gates in front of shrines, and also it’s the color of official stamps. So, I do have a chance to use the word vermilion.

  2. One time at work I had a long and involved discussion about what type of sunglasses a fairy tale character who was going to be on a summer mailer would wear. There were Internet searches involved. Because we are professionals.

    1. I once spent all afternoon doing searches and very carefully deciding what a character would be wearing in a scene. Then once I had it settled to my satisfaction, I realised that the POV character in that scene would see it as “something green and black”! Wah, all that time wasted! But then I thought that the character who had the POV in the next chapter would utterly recognise the outfit for what it was, and that that gave me a terrific first line for that next chapter and a way of leading in to a bunch of things.

      Professional, yes, but sometimes it’s serendipity, or the back of my mind insisting I find out something without telling me why I need to know.

      1. That happens a lot, I find. I obsess over a detail–it’s a damn teddy bear–and then realize that it pays off down the line. I think it’s an essential part of world building. Plus the Girls in the Basement always have plans I have not yet realized exist.

        One thing I loved about the teddy bear smite was that it brought Rab back. Since there was no furniture smite, I had to clean up all those references and there were a lot of them, including the one where Rab comes back into the bar with a broom to sweep up the ash. Now he comes back to get the bottle he forgot, which is much more in character for him, sees Nick blast the teddy bear, and says, “Never mind,” and escapes again. It’s just a much better character move, and I got it because I swapped in the bear for the furniture.

        The Girls are geniuses.

  3. It’s so nice to see a professional at work.

    Good words-smite, defenestration, vacuous, exsanquination. They don’t get the yes they deserve.

  4. There is currently a ‘lost words’ campaign going on. You can vote for your favourite word that you wish was back in the dictionary.

    For example (and I’m not making this up, really) ‘Betrump’ – to deceive, cheat, elude, or slip from. I’m also quite fond of ‘Ear-rent’ – the figurative cost to a person of listening to trivial or incessant talk and ‘Rouker’ – a person who whispers or murmurs, who spreads false rumors. Can’t you just imagine calling someone a rouker?


    1. These are amazing. 😀 I am definitely a sillytonian. I’d also love to see wlonk come back, if only so I can know how to pronounce it. Although I’m surprised that slug-a-bed was on the list, it’s old-fashioned but I thought it was still in use…

      1. Slugabed was one I’ve used. And man milliner shows up in regencies all the time so I’ve used that.

        Betrumped I’m unfamiliar with and happy to adopt.

  5. I think the words “miscreant” and “malefactor” should be used a lot more often. “Malapert” was an Elizabethan term I used to lob at my cat.

    She was unimpressed.

    Smiting the bear seems like a perfect solution. 🙂

  6. I enjoyed the smiting in one of the drafts. I love the bears.

    As an aside to the previous post where you said you’re currently feeling like your cultural reference point is way back to 1992. It’s interesting that you ended this post with professional writer since 1993.

    Love to hear you and your writing are so energized. Go, Jenny, Go!

  7. Writing craft is like kitchen craft. I think of that scene in Julie and Julia where Julia teaches herself to chop onions.

    That’s something I learned because I was young enough to want to change upon watching Jamie and Nigella. It is just efficient.

  8. I’m of the “What the hell did that bear ever do to you?” school. Although I loves me some smite. And the second bear is adorable.

  9. I love the difference between Hot Stuff and Too Hot to Handle. One is an invitation and the other is a challenge/dare.

    All the coffee that Button keeps handing Nita to try and sober her up in a hurry is a great bit. I’ve been worried about Nita’s bladder though. Three cups of coffee (unless they’re small espressos) in quick succession, after all that she’s drunk earlier and another toddy in the making is a lot of liquid. Should she swing by the loo on her way in? This will more that likely slow down the action and I don’t think anyone else has mentioned it so it is probably not an issue but I thought I’d give you a heads up.

    1. Plus another toddy and three more shots of scupper.
      She’s young enough to make it, I think. She does leave at the end of Chapter Two to throw up. I’m sure she takes care of it then.

  10. This is the kind of professionalism and maturity I aspire to. XD

    Some years ago I did a series of writing prompts with a couple of characters, and I swear every prompt I was googling something random: everything from Korean names to how to drape a sari to the full lyrics of a song that goes “fish fish fishy fishy fish fish fish”. 😀 ……I miss those characters. I should revisit them…

  11. Awww, that poor teddy bear. I’m giving Nick serious side-eye for cruelty to innocent stuffed animals here. Couldn’t coax you into just smiting its “hot stuff” cushion, could I?


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