When a contractor gets the big stuff done on a job, she or he and the homeowner makes a punch list: a list of all the little stuff needed to completely finish the job. Technically it’s anything that did not conform to specifications, but it’s the little stuff, too, that just got lost in the big tasks. It’s about this time in a book that I do a punch list for all the things that I’ve forgotten or let drop, changed in one place but not another, forgot to layer in, details that are important but not addressed yet, etc. I have a much more complex list of big issues to solve for character, plot, and theme, but the punch list is little stuff that’s still important. Such as . . .
Chloe wears glasses
They’re a big part of her personality, so they need to stay in there, not in every mention but definitely as something she deals with.
Nick insists that he raises his voice for emphasis but it’s clearly because he’s gaining emotions. There’s a three-beat in the first act, but then I drop it. Have to figure out how to either make it a motif and arc it or drop it, otherwise it’s just noise.
Nita’s got a sock thing going and I don’t know why. I know it plays a minor but important role in Act One, but if it’s motif, I have to figure out why. I have some ideas–Keres gives them to her for Christmas and birthdays so they’re a form of love, Nita’s always cold so they’re practical, she wears black all the time so they’re the one spot of color she indulges in–I just have to pull them together.
Cthulhu keeps turning up here, so I know he’s important and I have some thematic ideas as to why, but you can’t just put theme on the page.
March 23 to April 2
Lovecraft says that Cthulhu always sinks below the waves on Apr. 2. I don’t know why that’s the day the Old One goes belly up, but that’s the day the book’s gonna end.
Binky the Devil Bear
Nick smites him in the beginning and that’s it. I need him in there to show the smite, but he can’t just exist to get blasted. Three beat there and it has to mean something.
Layer in Hotels and Dorothy Idle
They’re going to be important later, so they need to be part of the wallpaper earlier.
Nita has a black canvas bag she carries everywhere (I found it on Amazon and bought it just to make sure it was what she’d carry, and now I carry it everywhere), so it needs to be layered in, too, and to have some kind of meaning in the things she carries.
Iron at bridge and airport
This is just a plot point that needs to be threaded through there so I can pay it off later.
Gate left open in Australia early on
This is a throwaway detail to show the importance of closing the gates. It’s not in there yet.
Button as the new kid/red shirt
Button as a newbie, assumption is that she’s a red shirt, but she’s the most lethal thing on the island. Layer that in.
Nita’s cracked windshield
Nita’s car gets both front and back windshields cracked and it’s never mentioned again. She either has to drive with a cracked windshield or lose her car to get it fixed.
Rab puts in an expresso machine, Hotels go semi-dry
I don’t know why that ended up on the list, but clearly I had a plan.
Nita is cold all the time
I say this and then don’t deal with it until the baph stuff. It has to be in there.
Nita never gets angry, just annoyed.
This really has to be in there because there’s a big pay-off later.
Leftover Chinese/Constant Food
Nick eats to fuel his facade; Nita eats to keep warm. Lots of breakfast and Chinese, but they’d vary that. Food in the apt. too–need a fridge–and arc that with their arcs.
Nita has a car. Jeo and Rab must have rented one when they got to the island. Mort has a car. Button must have one. Vinnie has one. Sort those out.
Chlorophyll in blood
Get the hemoglobin/chlorophyll thing in, figure out why external iron brings demons down.
Stripe and Joyce
Make them mean something.
The closest thing Rab has to a romance is Keres flirting with him. Nita and Nick, Jeo and Daphne, Mort and his demon lover, Button and Max, all get HEAs right now while Rab tends bar. That’s gotta change, so most of the hetero HEAs are going south or at least being delayed, and Rab’s gonna get a boyfriend. I had one planned for him (Button’s brother) for a later book, but you never save anything for a later book, and besides, I’m loving Rab’s character arc in this. A real relationship should be part of that. ARGH. I’m not homophobic, I swear, I just dream in hetero. Although I do have the OT3 of the Hotels going, so there’s that.
There’s more, but you get the drift: clean up all the details that don’t pay off, fix problems that I created without thinking, make motifs either mean something or disappear. Punch list.