How tough can it be to write a few pages? Easy peasy. In fact, I’ve already written it once: Chapter 8 of Timber beast. Two words describe it: preachy surplusage.
Elmore Leonard says “[t]ry to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”
So, as I turn Timber Beast into The God of Trees, I’m looking at each chapter, each page, each passage, and asking myself:
• what is the point of this scene?
• how does it advance the plot?
• does it have a goal?
• is there conflict on every page?
Don’t mind me, you can skip the numbered part if you like. I’m going to work out what I’m trying to do. This scene currently takes place in a classroom. Not the most exciting spot on earth.
The point of the scene is to introduce another love interest, Liz Johnson, who is going to have the greatest impact on Nate, my protagonist.
It does advance the plot, sort of. Without Liz, I have to find other ways for Nate to discover clues and examine issues. Liz is a prime source of conflict in the story.
Goal…hmmm. Does just getting word count, count? No? I didn’t think so. Nate’s goal is to change the students’ minds about logging and getting away from the notion that natural is leaving the forest go fallow and Liz’s goal is to show what a putz Nate is. I know it needs work. I hate to lose this scene. It’s one of the few places the story talks about the issue of perception. How else can I illustrate that?
Conflict. Well there’s my inner conflict. The inner critic telling me how lousy it all is. Beside that—on the pages—to get conflict, Liz has to be on each page, throwing verbal bombs. In the Timber Beast manuscript, it’s told in third-person from Liz’s point of view. The conflict there comes from Liz’s conflict in being drawn to Nate and hating what he is talking about. I’m working The God of Trees in first-person and trying to go from Nate’s PoV. I will try changing it to Liz’s and see if that helps. It means the reader has one more character’s voice to get to know and will lessen the sympathy for Nate.
Hi, welcome back, Skipper. The noise you hear is just the lapidary barrel in my head working off the rough spots in the story.
I had planned to brew on Sunday. I say planned. Planning being the operative verb. I pulled out my equipment (kettle, fermenter, spoon, ingredient kit). My great plan fell apart in assembly. My fermenter is a bucket with a spigot near the bottom. The spigot needed to be attached. I put it on and threw some water in to be sure of its watertightness. It was not watertight. As I started toweling up water off the floor, I noticed that one of the plugs near the baseboard was wet. Not good. It began to smoke. Really not good. Three inch flames shot from the outlet. Bad. The fire extinguisher kept for such occasions didn’t work. Yikes!
The circuit breaker tripped and the flames ended in an instant like they started.
So, I brewed a batch of American Wheat ale on Monday. In addition to the kit’s ingredients, I added a hint of fresh ginger, which should give it piquancy. As the reporters say, ‘it remains to be seen’ as to whether the batch turns out decent or not. One dog hair can spoil a batch and with my golden retriever, Peaches, wandering through the house, that can happen.
Yet, I still have a house for Peachy to wander through. Whatever I get, it’ll be sweet.
Synopsis (first draft): Euclid and Penelope are star-crossed math lovers. They are from different worlds. They don’t speak the other’s language. She’s English. He’s American. Soon they learn that they have the common language, love—of mathematics—and it looks like a formula that equals love. But during a discussion of String Theory, Penelope discovers that Euclid is a P-Brane. She calculates their love doesn’t add up and she dumps him for the guy who makes the ice sculptures on a cruise ship of Liberian registry.
Opening Song – The Sage Called Pythagoras (sung to the tune of Aquarius from Hair)
When math is what I can espouse
And triangles beat the parallel bars
I believe calculi charts the planets
And gravity steers the stars
This is the cloning of the sage of Pythagoras
The sage of Pythagoras
Bemused as right angles landing
It’s calculus I’m understanding!
No more split infinitives
Just give me integers or derivatives!
Put it all in an equation
And you’ll hear the celestial sphere’s gyration