Lily 5 Notes

One of the things that’s really hard about discovery drafts is that they’re what Anne Lamott called “shitty first drafts.” The first time I write a scene, it’s lousy. That’s because I don’t know what it’s about until I see it. I can recognize that its repetitive, that there’s no conflict arc, that the characters don’t change, but I can’t fix it until I write it, almost always badly. Nora Roberts said that she can fix a bad page, but she can’t fix a blank page, and that’s where the discovery draft comes in.

Of course with Lily, there’s no pressure because I’m just writing what interests me, not trying to make a whole book. I do love these characters and that diner, but I have no idea what this is about, and I’ll never have to know because it’s just for Argh. So when I left the Seb-fights-with-Lily scene as boring as it was, I did that because there was nothing fun in it, it was just me exploring that relationship and giving Cheryl a cleaver. I love Cheryl with the cleaver. Seb, not so much.

What did interest me was the Fin-ordering-Lily-outside scene. I really liked that for several reasons. Continue reading


Lily 5

I had a moment of panic–one of many this week on a variety of topics–when I looked at this non-book and thought, “There’s no there there!” Some of you may remember I had a similar moment with Nita. Several in fact. One of the hardest parts of doing a discovery draft is that you’re dancing on air. Remember Wile E. Coyote running off the cliff, doing just fine until he looked down, and then he fell like a rock and usually got run over by a truck when he hit the ground? That’s why you never look down during a discovery draft. If the fall doesn’t kill you, the truck will.

However, five weeks into this I do have to do some cautious looking down. Continue reading


Lily Notes 4

I was re-reading Thief of Time and found this:

“And if you want the story, remember that the story does not unwind. It weaves. Events that start in different places and different times all bear down on that one tiny point in space time, which is the perfect moment.”

That whole page is a great musing on story in general (it’s page 5 in iBooks edition), but that idea that everything rests on that one point, the perfect moment, the obligatory scene (in my interpretation) when the whole story universe completes itself, that, I think, is the key to fiction. (And Thief of Time does ends on the perfect moment.) The problem is that I don’t know what that moment is until I get there. Well, I know it for Nita, but not for Lily. I’ll never have to know it for Lily (not a book), but I kinda want to anyway.

And that means I really need an antagonist in here. Because the obligatory scene/climax needs an antagonist. And then maybe a resolution for an even more perfect moment, but still, an antagonist is key. Continue reading


Working Wednesday, April 15, 2020

It’s April 15 but taxes aren’t due. So much for the whole death-and-taxes rule. I have been throwing things out with a vengeance (not yarn or dogs of course) and scrubbing with less enthusiasm, and my yard is starting to not look so much like a blasted heath, so, hey, progress. Also more work on Nita (see proof below) and Lily, this time on the collage (more about that after the jump).

First, what did you do this week?

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Lily 4

I know I have to figure out what Sebastian is doing in the plot, but I still have no idea what the plot is here. The characters are shaping up nicely in my brain, but they’re just milling around, serving and eating pie and burgers that I haven’t described yet, vaguely waving their hands in the air. So this week, I decided, Lily had to get a goal. (I did write scenes with Seb, but they’re awful because I don’t know what his problem is. So he just whines a lot. Not good.). Lily’s in some kind of conflict, and she needs to talk to somebody about that so the Girls have a chance to send up some story fodder. She doesn’t know Fin well enough yet, and anyway we already have a Lily/Fin infodump scene. Van and Cheryl know her life. It’s gonna have to be Nadia.

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Lily Notes 3

So now I’m thinking about the diner and its specials menu, not because it’s crucial but because it sounds like fun and I get to read about food.

I’m thinking there are the standards, which I’m going to ignore because boring, and then there are the specials, maybe five things that change every week? Trying not to make this more complicated than it needs to be while emphasizing the off-the-wall fun part. I figure variations on a burger, a salad, a soup, a club sandwich/BLT/whatever, some kind of eggs?, and maybe a dessert. Just this week only, never to be seen again? Vanessa comes up with the recipes, Cheryl names them, and then Lily describes them (and double checks with Van), printing them out and paper clipping them to the regular menu.

It just seems like a good time to be coming up with recipe variations, especially burger variations Cheryl has named (not the week she’s a vegan, Van and Lily will block her on that one). And at some point, of course, there will be a Viking Burger, or possibly a Viking Club, or maybe both. The Viking Axe Burger: extra thick chopped beef with sharp Gruyere-some cheese, blood-red tomatoes, and Danish scallions, with sea salt and Sriracha for edge. You know, only better than that, although that actually sounds good.

But that wouldn’t come until much later in the story. Maybe the first week in the story, Cheryl calls one dish “Nobody Died for This Soup” because it’s vegetarian. Maybe not. Over to you Argh. (This reminds me of the time I said, “I need hell-inspired business name, and got “Motel Styx,” “Beelzepub,” and “Pins and Sins.” Good times.)

Also, any requests for Monday’s scene? Wants? Needs? Stray thoughts?

EDITED TO ADD: Any kind of burger, soup, etc., not just Vikings. I think the Viking burger comes at the end. Also feel free to brainstorm Cheryl’s next obsession. They have already lived through the Feng shui debacle.


Lily 3

One of the things that is probably becoming clear is that discovery drafts are really sailing into the unknown. Why is Lily seeing a therapist? I dunno. Why is she working in a diner? I dunno. What does Fin have to do with her past? I dunno. Who’s the antagonist? I dunno. This is the part at the beginning where I just write whatever comes to mind. It used to drive Bob crazy. “What is this stuff doing in here?” “I dunno.”

But your questions are good ones, the few I can answer and the ones I can’t, and there are a lot of great ideas generated by them–Why is the diner a Faraday cage? I dunno–and good reminders–Where the hell is the cat?–so we’re corking right along here. You wanted Fin’s PoV, so that’s the first scene below, and then there’s another one after that that’s pure info-dump so there will be massive rewriting, or there would be if this was going to be a book.

This is not going to be a book.

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Lily Notes 2

So I’ve got a better grip on the Lily story, although that’s not difficult since I had no grip at all before this. I still have no idea why she’s remembering past lives, what Fin has to do with any of it, the name of the diner, what Nadia’s role is, or . . . well, anything.

So let’s go with expectation. What are you expecting to happen next? Or with want. What do you hope happens next? Or with need. What makes no sense to you now? Or you know, anything about the story, especially if you have any ideas about what the hell is going on and what the next move should be. My big want: Lily’s kind of a wounded bird in everything I’ve written so far. I need to steel up her backbone, get that sass working. But she can’t be like Vanessa, who is cool and in charge and brilliant. She has to be Lily strong. Must cogitate.

What do you think?


Working Wednesday, April 1, 2020

I know it’s April Fool’s Day, but I think Fate just pulled the ultimate trick on all of us with the virus, so I’m ignoring that. It is the first day of April, so YAY SPRING. Also I just found out there’s something called Viking knitting which does not require knitting needles, so I will obviously be looking into that. Also something called nailbinding which sounds brutal and Nordic. Lucet I already knew about, but still. Evidently there was a lot of crafting between bouts of pillaging. And I may doodle some manuscript illuminations on a specials menu, just to see how that goes.

And in other news, because I’m now obsessing on visuals, I went looking for retro diner fonts that could be used both on as the font for the diner (signs and menu heads) and as a title font, and found this list:

And then lost an hour playing with fonts, which is one of my favorite things to do. (See bottom of post for some possibilities.)

Now I have to find a name for the diner. Something that sounds like a diner name but has some kind of meaning which is going to be hard because I have no idea what this story is really about. I just want the sign and the font for the visuals. And because I love playing with fonts, okay? It’s still work if I enjoy it.

So what are you working on now?

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Visual Stuff

When I wrote with Bob, he used to make me walk the terrain. We’d go to wherever the book was set and talk the story through while we walked around. The one I remember best was in the Carolinas, a big white house on a river, because I was saying things like, “Okay the gazebo for the wedding is over here, and there’ll be furniture on the front porch, maybe a swing, for that scene when the bridge goes in . . .” and Bob was saying things like “The bad guys will dock here and the scuba divers will attack the wedding from here . . .” (No, there was no scuba attack; Bob had a learning curve in writing romantic comedy, aka, nobody we like dies.). I dutifully tramped around after him through the Southern low country for Agnes and we spent one memorable October evening at an amusement park in Pennsylvania where people had chain saws for Wild Ride, but I finally had to admit that it was all worth it because he was right: walking the terrain helps a lot. (This may be why I do so many scenes in diners. I can sit the terrain.)

My version of walking the terrain is collage. Continue reading