1. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Catrin Lewis's Progress Journal

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by Catrin Lewis, Jul 17, 2014.

    I wonder if this would be a good place to do all that thinking out loud about my writing that I originally meant to put on my writer's blog?

    Why not put it on my writer's blog? Because

    A) I started The Writer Sits Down because I wanted feedback. But while I've received a promising number of Likes and Follows, actual comments are rare. And

    B) On the blog, because it's so public, I have to be more polished. My posts, when they're not poems, flash fiction, or chapters of my work in revision, need to have a beginning, middle, and end, and lead to some specific point, like a mini-essay. That's my compulsion, at least, and I don't see it going away.

    Sometimes I'm tempted to go into my planning ideas on the Workshop, in reply to critiques I've received, but I don't think that's really the place for them. But maybe I could use this part of the WF site to get my thinking in order . . . without having to be too structured about it . . . and other members might drop by from time to time and tell me what they think. That could be useful.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2014
  2. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    The status quo, in chronological order of conception:

    Title: Free Souls
    Also Known As: Work in Revision (WIR)
    Genre: Literary Romance Thriller (is there such a thing?)
    Format: Novel, currently divided into three parts
    Setting and Time Period: 20th century midwestern America; action as written so far spans the years 1970 to 1982
    First Conceived: Circa 1983; first draft written, edited, and typed up
    Idea Source: A bizarre encounter I had with a would-be client when I was working in a two-person architecture firm.
    Premise: As an idealistic teenager, Sandy Beichten dedicated her life to serving God and her neighbor through doing great Architecture and making a marriage with a Christian man who'd share her ideals. Now, ten years later, she is working for Eric Baumann, the best young designer in her Midwestern city, and seems to be fulfilling the first part of her pledge. But Eric has little use for Christianity, and her hopeless love for him seems to be forcing her to choose between her heart and her vocation– until the plottings of a sinister stranger confront both Sandy and Eric with choices that are more chilling and ultimate still.
    Themes: Work and vocation; love vs. infatuation; faithfulness vs. betrayal; family; focus vs. distraction; purity vs. corruption; order vs. anarchy; bigotry vs. tolerance/acceptance; defining standards and living up to them; defining which standards are most worth living and dying for
    Motifs: Architecture; fine art; classical music; Shakespeare; vision; water; fire
    Original Length: (71) 8½ x 11 typewritten pages, single-spaced, no paragraph spacings or chapter breaks; double-spaced between major scenes
    Current Word Count: 91,185
    Target Word Count: Who knows, but I have to pare it down

    Last Worked On: 7/18/2014

    Comments: I wrote Free Souls the 1983 novella as a gift to a fellow writer, in response to a novella she wrote for me. The three main characters were based on a would-be architectural client, my former boss, and myself. My writer friend’s feedback was enthusiastically positive, but even back then I was painfully aware that there was no way those characters could work out those plot solutions as written. I’m rewriting and expanding the original novella to deepen the characters, to render their actions more believable, and to develop themes and motifs implicit in the original. I hope this will make the story more compelling and more worth reading.



    Title: Florrie (working title only)
    Genre: Psychological Horror
    Format: Long short story or novella; haven’t found out yet
    Setting and Time Period: Midwestern United States; initial action takes place in 1967 or so, main action in the mid-1980s
    First Conceived: Circa 1983
    Idea Source: My writer friend’s day job as a newspaper reporter got me thinking of that milieu. Then the opening line of the story popped into my head, giving me the character and her situation fully formed.
    Premise: Where is the dividing line between an author’s creatively basing her characters on people she knows and her using them to the point she sucks out their souls? Struggling newspaper reporter Chuck Randolph is not a fan of romance novels. But he reads everything produced by popular romance author Sarah Trent and obsessively follows her career. For Chuck knows Ms. Trent– and what’s worse for him, she believes she knows him, too.
    Themes: Creative vampirism; infatuation; obsession; success and failure; self-delusion; self-destruction
    Motifs: Writing and authorship; newspaper reporters; romance novelists; Dorian Gray in reverse
    Current Word Count: 659 (in the file I can locate, though I could swear I’ve written a lot more)
    Target Word Count: We’ll see

    Last Worked On: 9/6/2012

    Comments: This was going to be my next project after I “completed” Free Souls back in the 1980s. But I knew next to nothing about life in the typical newsroom and lacked the confidence to use one for my setting. Yes, I could have consulted my friend, but she was in California and I was in the Midwest and I was too busy practicing architecture to write letters and too poor to talk to her long distance. With the coming of the Internet a lot of my research problems are solved, and I intend to get back to this project once I have my two novels finished.



    Title: Singing Lake Farm
    Also Known As: Work in Progress (WIP)
    Genre: Psychological/Supernatural Horror
    Format: Novel in two parts
    Setting and Time Period: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and eastern Ohio, 2009-2011
    First Conceived: 2004
    Idea Source: The visual simile that oozed into my mind when I was trying not to face the fact that the organization I’d pulled up stakes to come lead was rife with dark secrets from the past no one would admit to or discuss.
    Premise: For 55-year-old Mary Ellen Matson, the old Henry property is the ideal place for her to fulfill her lifelong dream of developing a plant nursery and demonstration garden. Singing Lake Farm will be more than her livelihood, it will be a memorial to her late husband and son, and she is willing to invest everything she has to establish it. But once she does, she may find that the land hides something that was not in her plans.
    Themes: Dream fulfilment; family conflict; family curses; the supernatural; cryptozoology; love and idolatry; appearances vs. reality; the hidden revealed; work and ambition; friendship; money; religious faith neglected
    Motifs: Gardening; plans (mental and as drawn); dreams and nightmares; water and drowning; witchcraft; animals that hunt; snakes
    Current Word Count: 49,668 (including sketches for later proposed chapters which I append to the typescript draft)
    Target Word Count: 80,000 to 100,000

    Last Worked On: 4/7/2014

    Comments: Poor Mary Ellen. It won’t come out well for her.



    Title: Thelma and Svetlana (working title only)
    Genre: Family drama
    Format: Novel, maybe, in three parts
    Setting and Time Period: Rural Minnesota, 1930s, with flashbacks to earlier times
    First Conceived: April 2009
    Idea Source: This story emerged from a dialogue-writing exercise in a writing class I took in spring 2009.
    Premise: Svetlana, passionate, elderly, Ukrainian, and Eastern Orthodox, has nothing in common with Thelma, her no-nonsense middle-aged Norwegian-American Lutheran daughter-in-law. Nothing, that is, but her son, Thelma’s husband Yuri. But Yuri is dead, and the two women must live together in Thelma’s house after Svetlana’s homestead goes under the auctioneer’s hammer. Can they heal the wounds of the past, and will the one thing that seems to divide them most be the factor that brings them together?
    Themes: Family conflict; religious conflict; hopes suppressed and deferred; reconciliation; beauty vs. homeliness
    Motifs: Housecleaning; religious holidays; cooking and preserving; farmwork; rural life
    Current Word Count: 349
    Target Word Count: We’ll see

    Last Worked On: Some revisions made in 2011.

    Comments: When I looked for it for this post, I couldn't find the dialogue file anywhere on my computer. :eek: Fortunately I was able to get it back from one of my blogs, where I posted it in May 2009.

    Wasn’t particularly thinking of developing this, but the scenario got into my head while I was refinishing my stairs back in 2011. I wish to gracious I’d made some idea sketches at the time. I conceive of the novel as a framed story, exploring Svetlana’s and Thelma’s backgrounds in turn to show how they got to where they are “now.” Once I’ve brought them up to date to the 1930s, I’ll work on how they are ultimately reconciled, so Svetlana can die in peace.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
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  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Whew! That's a lot of projects. And you've got them all organised too - Love it!
    I especially like that you actually wrote down the idea source. Some of my projects I haven't a clue how I came up with them.

    They all sound good - But I must say I really like the sound of Florrie.
     
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  4. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks. :) I've thought of that one enough I should be able to write it in my sleep.

    I'm told published authors get annoyed when readers ask them, "Where do you get all your ideas?" As a non-published author I can suggest a one-word answer:

    "Life."



     
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  5. BookLover
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    It's funny that @peachalulu mentioned that Florrie sounded the best to her because I was also planning on commenting that if I was going to read any of those, I would read the newspaper/psychological horror one first. :) It sounded very interesting.
     
  6. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Work I got done on Saturday, 19 July 2014:

    Title:
    Free Souls
    Chapters in Play: Part 2, Chapters 11 & 12
    Beginning Word Count: 91,185
    Day's Ending Word Count: 91,923

    (This ending word count is misleading. It doesn't factor in the verbiage I cut out. Nor does it reflect the fact that in Chapter 12, the one I'm currently rewriting, a lot of the old text yet remains underneath the new lines I'm substituting.)

    On Saturday and into Sunday morning I finished up the revision of some chapters I posted in the Workshop last April.

    Goody for me, right? But this whole Part 2 is a problem child, as you shall see.

    Part 1 takes place in the late summer and fall of 1981 and ends on the evening of November 8th. That's when Sandy and Eric, my MCs, have a disagreement over her accepting a promotion in his architecture office. This took the story up to page 20 in the original novella, and comes to 18,700 words as revised. Part 3 resumes on the evening of the 8th and will, once written, cover the months between then and late September 1982.

    Part 2 originally was going to be nothing big. Originally it wasn't going to be "Part 2" at all! All I intended was three or four quick flashback chapters in which Sandy, that same evening of November 8th, mulls over her previous relationships to figure out why she, a normal, decent-looking young woman, would be willing to settle for the role of office wife (sans any sex or terms of endearment) to the man she loves, and why she'd be willing to hold herself back in her God-given vocation to maintain that as the status quo. That's what the question developed into, in any event, and I felt I needed to answer it because as first written her behavior makes no sense.

    But Part 2 got away from me. Crazed-horses-pulling-the stagecoach over the cliff got away from me. It mortifies me to admit it, but this backstory/flashback/nested story deals with her life from 1970 to 1980 and currently weighs in at a whopping 66,641 words! :eek: It's a triumph (coff!) of showing, not telling. Oh, I think I've got some affecting stuff in there. After reading it you'd definitely understand Sandy's motivations. And a lot of it is stuff I think the reader should know about her, things it would be unnatural (IMHO) to cram into the 1981-82 "present day" narrative.

    But. But! 66,641 words? :wtf: Good grief, who's going to remember what the rest of the book is about after that? In fact, that's why I put in the "Part" designations. So if the novel ever appears in print (fat chance!), the reader can stick her finger in the book and skip directly to Part 3 and only read Part 2 if she feels she needs it. But I've just said the reader does need it!

    I feel guilty about my nested story, but that doesn't stop me from revising it. The parts I rewrote on Saturday will address a lot of the concerns my Workshop critiquers (@jannert , @Mckk, @ChickenFreak, @dbesim, etc.) expressed. And hey, if even if the book never sees publication, I've gotten good practice at being a decent writer.

    (Yeah, I know the most important thing about being a decent writer is maintaining pace and keeping your reader's interest. Shut up. I'm off to post the revised chapters in the Workshop.)
     
  7. jannert
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    Nothing at all wrong with over-writing and creating 66K+ backstory in a first draft. Get it all out there.

    If you let it cook a while and move on with your story, when you do go back with fresh eyes, you'll find a LOT of it can be removed.

    You can start (as I did) with the re-statements, and the over-analysis of motivaton. Any time you find yourself reinforcing what you just said with something else—choppity chop. As David Corbett, one of the writers for Writers'Digest, said in an article a while back: Say it once, say it well, then move on.

    After that, you can trim how say something. Cut unnecessary words. If you've got three adjectives, choose the most relevant one and discard the others. Convert passive to active voice, when appropriate. That usually removes words. I did, versus It was done, or It had been done. I'd be surprised if you couldn't chop off half of what you've written, simply by using these tricks—and that's without removing any story elements at all.

    THEN move on to removing hunks of story that you no longer need. They might be very well-written and you might be fond of them ...but do they really lead towards your story's conclusion, or are they just pleasant (or unpleasant) diversions?

    Cutting out bits of good writing can be painful or puzzling, and you might need input from a beta reader WHO HAS READ YOUR WHOLE STORY to help you decide what can go and what should stay. But ...that's another chunk gone.

    Don't worry about over-writing. It's actually an asset, because it gives you more to work with. Your story will be richly textured, once you've edited out the unnecessaries and smoothed away the bumps.
     
  8. Catrin Lewis
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    @jannert
    That would be my main request of a beta reader. :) As I've commented elsewhere on this site, I hate it when authors are too vague and leave the reader trying to piece together information that should simply be given. Sure, I like foreshadowings and mysteries as much as the next reader, when it comes to the main plot line. But if you're going to keep me in the dark about where a character is and who's with him, do it on purpose, for the plot's sake. If it's only background don't make me stop and puzzle it out. I don't want to be That Vague Author, but I'm sure I over-correct. A good beta reader who, as you say, knows what the whole story is about, could tell me, "Yeah, I see what you were getting across in Part 2, Chapter 14. But it was enough for you to say 'x.' Y & z you don't need."

    As for cutting things out, once more I'm grateful for digital storage. One can stash the cut portions in an OLD file until their importance fades and one doesn't care any more.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2014
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  9. jannert
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    Oh yeah. And every now and again you WILL want some of what you cut 'back.' Even if it's just a scrap of dialogue you want to put somewhere else. So yes, never actually throw stuff away. But that's the blessing of digital isn't it? You can scrap things even if you're not absolutely sure you want them to go, because you can always get them back.

    I recently restored nearly an entire chapter that I'd cut from my novel earlier. It was a chapter I enjoyed writing, but in the interests of shortening the story, I decided it didn't really need to be there. From the plot point of view it didn't need to be there. However, from an emotional-closure perspective it did—it turned out.

    It was a wedding scene between my two main characters, which occurred in the middle of my novel. It's not a Romance and the wedding isn't the point of the story, so I cut by jumping from their wedding plans straight through to the next important scene, after they had been married a few days.

    My beta readers who read after I'd made the cut—they had not read the earlier version—said ...where's the wedding? We were looking forward to the wedding! So I put a slightly condensed version of the wedding chapter back in, and was able to close off another minor story thread at the same time as well. So you never know ...and that's what beta readers are for. I was quite pleased they asked for it, actually, because I quite liked that chapter myself!
     
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  10. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Work done since I last posted:

    Title:
    Free Souls
    Chapter in Play: Part 2, Chapter 12
    Beginning Word Count: 91,923
    Period's Ending Word Count: 92,049

    Oh, the joys of growing as a writer! Or should that be, "the pains"?

    Chapter 12 of Part 2 introduces the next guy in my main character Sandy's life, her first college boyfriend Marvin Jansovic. Marvin is a bit of a problem, not only for Sandy, but also for me. A scruffy, careless, self-centered, over-drinking good-time Charlie, he was, I thought, settled in Ch. 2.12 as previously written. The effect I was going for was that he was a reaction against the "divine" and disappointing Jeff. An embarrassing episode she'd rather forget about, and pretty much had. And I think I succeeded.

    Trouble is, I wrote that chapter when I was making a point of reminding the reader that all this backstory is something she's remembering one evening ten years later. It's from the perspective of her 28-year-old self, older and wiser. But I'm not doing that anymore. Even though technically it's still all reminiscence, I'm putting her (and the reader) back into the events of her past, as if she were going through them for the very first time.

    So as much as I liked the distant tone of the original Marvin chapter (good grief, it was so distant I wasn't going to give him a last name!), now it won't work. Because even though she's never madly in love with him, or even much in love with him at all, something in the affection line has got to be there to keep a girl like that in a relationship with a guy like that for over a year. Sure, she leads with her head, but the emotions are there and need to be seen.

    Just a matter of changing the chapter from Tell to Show? Uh-uh. That would miss the point. Sure, I am doing that, but the crucial difference is the tone of what I'm showing and telling.

    But even as I show her liking and settling for this guy I still have to record certain events in their relationship, things she has to go through on her way to becoming the kind of woman who can't let herself hope for reciprocated love from Eric the hero. It's slow going. Oh, I could rewrite the material pretty organically-- I've got a good start on it-- but I'm in danger of excluding important milestones. But maybe they're not that important? Better to think about it.

    All I've done, then, is a mild amount of substituting, adding, and deleting. But mostly since the 19th I've let the writing sit and brew while I weed my rank pit of a front garden and see if I can finally hang my dining room wallpaper.
     
  11. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Work done Monday, 4 August and into the 5th:

    Title:
    Free Souls
    Chapter in Play: Part 2, Chapter 12
    Beginning Word Count: 92,049
    Ending Word Count: 93,308

    Getting the Introduction to Marvin written. Ideas and dialogue were trotting out nicely earlier, but now I'm plowing into the mud and I'd better stop and get some sleep.

    The immediacy is coming, and a better sense of Sandy's relationship with Marvin (in two words, Art Project), but there's something I have to communicate before I get out of this chapter and I'm not sure how. I have to explain why a nice Christian girl who experienced a major crisis of guilt her freshman year over visualizing herself having sex with a guy she imagined to be wonderful is, a year and a half later, engaging in actual make-out sessions with a guy she knows is not wonderful at all. And seems to have few if any moral qualms about it. I know good and well such changes in attitude happen in one's college years and can be explained by inertia, peer pressure, all the rest of it, but in a novel it becomes a Phenomenon and has to be accounted for. Especially when your MC, just before her sophomore year, has recommitted herself to staying on the straight and narrow.

    I'll think about it later.

    A lot more fun has been thinking these past couple of weeks about how to show Eric the hero falling in love with her in the novel's present day. But that's another update.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2014
  12. Catrin Lewis
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    Title: Free Souls
    Chapters in Play: Part 3, chapter numbers to be determined
    Beginning Word Count: N/A
    Ending Word Count: N/A

    My love story between Sandy and Eric. It has to be better motivated than it is. I have some ideas on how to go about that, and I'll sketch them out here in my Progress Journal, before I lose them.

    But first, what I'm working with. In my original 1983 typescript (henceforth to be known as TS83), I require a biiiiiig lump of credulity from my reader when it comes to the love story arc. We know Sandy's in love with Eric from page 1. But what evidence do I produce for him falling in love with her?

    Not much.

    1. On a Friday evening towards the middle of November I have him reflecting on how well they communicate in the office and on what good times they have discussing music on those occasions they've gotten together to listen to it. Though he finds her interesting, his ruling attitude is that such socializing should be kept to a minimum because she is his employee.

    2. Later that evening he reflexively comes to her defense when her moral reputation is impugned. This is a big deal as the man with the dirty mouth is an important client. The men exchange apologies, and Eric later wonders why he took the financial risk to take up verbal arms for her. He's glad he did, and tells himself he owed her one for not being able to stand up for her against another (rejected) client (The Villain) on an earlier occasion. Something tells him he was motivated by more than his desire to do the right thing, but he doesn't examine it too closely.

    3. On Sunday afternoon the same weekend he sees her at an art exhibition. She's wearing something dressier than usual and it hits him for the first time that she's an attractive woman. He compliments her on the outfit. She twists the compliment into a joke and rejects it.

    4. An hour or so later he comes upon her contemplating a painting (imaginary) by El Greco. For some reason thus far unexplained (this scene is from Sandy's POV) he starts insisting he'd give it to her if he could. She makes a joke out of this, too, but he doesn't let up until she changes the subject to office matters.

    5. Going through the exhibition together, Eric finds himself reflecting that he's been taking her for granted as a person (vs. as an employee), that there's a lot more to her than he has considered, but concludes that her personal life is none of his business.

    Then nothing for over two months.

    6. On the 15th of January, Sandy undergoes an ordeal related to the thriller plot. Eric arrives in time to keep it from getting worse. Seeing that she is very shaken, he feels moved to give her a hug, but she shrinks into herself and won't let him touch her. This confuses him no end, but he doesn't push it.

    7. The following day (chronology glitch, as January 16th in 1982 was a Saturday) he tells her he's hired a muscular college student starting the next Monday, ostensibly to do grunt work around the office, but really to make sure she's not there alone when he, Eric, is not around.

    AND THAT'S ALL THERE IS!!!-- until January 27th when he finds himself temporarily homeless (thanks to The Villain, though E & S aren't sure of that). Sandy, thinking she has her feelings for him under control and all other possibilities being exhausted, offers him the use of her sofa bed until he can move into his new apartment on the 1st. And that night he is suddenly and inexplicably overwhelmed with the conviction that he loves her, that she loves him, and he has to lay his heart at her feet, now, even if she has already gone to bed.

    Yeah, right. Who's going to believe that?

    I don't, not any more, and I wrote it.

    I'll save what I plan to do about it for the next post. I have animals to feed.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2014
  13. Catrin Lewis
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    Title: Free Souls
    Chapters in Play: Part 3, chapter numbers to be determined
    Beginning Word Count: N/A
    Ending Word Count: N/A

    Some random ideas on the road to getting Eric to fall in love with Sandy. (It'd be lovely if any of you blokes could chime in and tell me if this sounds feasible or not.)
    • First the bit in Part 1, Chapter 11, about the El Greco. In TS83 I have him offering it to her in a fairytale scenario involving castles and grands seigneurs and it's totally absurd. I've already changed it to him saying he wishes he could get it for her for Christmas. But why? Maybe because he was struck by her expression as she stood contemplating the portrait (not knowing she thought the subject resembled him) and was both unsettled and intrigued/attracted by it. Offering to buy her the painting for Christmas is an ambiguous joke that simultaneously acknowledges and defuses his gut reaction. But would he be self-aware enough to know this about himself? Would he even want to go into it? Meh, probably not.
    • However . . . he could find a poster version of it and present her with a framed copy. How will this gift make her feel? Will she hang it in her apartment, or is it too emotionally-charged?
    • In Part 3, Chapter 1, Eric goes to a diner for something to eat. Hmm. I'm already establishing that his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend Leah has started a cookwares shop and gives cooking lessons. What if I change that to her having started a cafe? Both of them are so busy with their own business ventures, it's no wonder they've drifted apart. But he shows up on this Sunday evening and she's there. Will he consult with her about Sandy? Maybe. If so, it will include showing that Eric has helped Leah with her cafe (free design services, at a minimum) and he had hoped to help Sandy in her career, too.
    • Mike Laurence at the least will be there, too. He'll turn out to be the same Mike who sat one table over from Sandy their freshman year in Architecture school. He could unload some info about her onto Eric, including a tidbit or two on the guys she dated in college. Eric will feel a twinge of jealousy, and will immediately suppress it.
    • However I revise Chapters 3.1 and 3.2 (currently up in the Workshop), Eric has to come out of them convinced that he was unfair to her earlier in the evening (She has to think the same thing towards him :-D )
    • Already have most of 3.3 written, where they miss each other in the office Monday morning the 9th and can't discuss the promotion offer as planned. He sweats blood writing her a note to make things right between them, wondering all the time Why? He's her boss and he can word it any way he pleases, but he feels he has to watch every phrase.
    • They meet on Wednesday to discuss her promotion properly. Chapter 4, I think. It'll be from Sandy's POV. But the meeting will be at a nice French restaurant-- he's learning not to take her for granted . . . whereas she is trying to detach.
    • A few days after that, he returns unexpectedly to the office in time to overhear her singing a romantic aria from a French opera. He listens as long as he can-- she's got a very good singing voice-- but has to come in and interrupt. She is mortified because the song is one she associates with her feelings for him, but he puts her consternation down to being caught singing. Later he looks up the words to the song and begins to wonder if it has some connection with him. He'll find the idea absurdly gratifying and um, exciting (hey, it's a very sexy song). Haven't decided how he'll react inwardly to this idea, but he'll do nothing about it.
    • In TS83 in early December the villain sends an arsonist to firebomb Eric's apartment and kill him. He's only saved because Leah comes over before that and insists he come see a film with her. The fire department put the blaze down to a faulty kerosene heater. This scene stays (though I'm moving it to the 18th and I might strengthen why Eric is 95% convinced the fire department is right and doesn't connect it to the villain), as will the scene where Eric tells Sandy what happened and she's far more upset than he could have expected. I headhop shamefully in TS83; maybe I'll give this scene to Eric and have him respond in some way to her distress in his behalf.
    • Eric spends Christmas with his brother in Idaho; we learn more about why he's against marriage; his brother makes him admit that part of it is his fear that he'll be just like their dad, sold out to his work and never at home with the wife and kids. Brother Paul suggests he could get around that by marrying another architect, not at all thinking of Eric's associate Sandy. But the idea does occur to Eric.
    • Item 6 above, Sandy's ordeal in the office. In TS83 it takes place on January 15th; think I'll change that to January 8th for a number of logistical reasons. Everything will go down mostly as written, but in the revision she'll have flashbacks to the time she was nearly raped her freshman year in college. His desire to take her in his arms and comfort her can be strengthened, I think. In TS83 I already have Eric feeling guilty for putting her into the position where the creep cuts her (attempting to get info on his rival the villain), but why not give him a better cause for guilt? Instead of the attack happening in mid-day (when she's frequently alone in the office, and the office couldn't function if she weren't), make it happen after closing time on Friday evening. Have him call and ask her to stay (and miss her bus) to do something that could have waited till later. Have the assailant think he's going to break into an empty office and go through files, but hey, looky, here's this girl who with a little persuasion will tell him all he wants to know.
    • Instead of waiting till Monday to find out how she's doing, have Eric call her at home the next day with all kinds of offers of help and support.
    • A week or so later, have them meet the client referred to in Item No. 2 above to inspect the site for the new facility he and his partner are having Eric design. Have Sandy in jeans and a cropped jacket due to the mud and give Eric a good view of her south elevation :rofl: as she walks along talking to the rude client's partner. Have Eric be impressed at her erect, graceful carriage so soon after the attack. Have him tell himself how proud he is to have her as his associate; have him put down his burgeoning feelings for her as brotherly love. Have her turn around suddenly and smile at him as she passes on some exciting fact about the project she's learned from the rude client's partner, and have Eric experience feelings that are anything but brotherly. Have the rude client picking up on all this and silently grinning at it all-- which causes Eric to get himself under control . . .
    • The scene the afternoon of the 27th where Sandy extends her hospitality will remain in her POV. But I can give Eric some business that reflects his feelings at being invited to stay at her place for 4 nights running. Haven't decided what those feelings should be. He doesn't go over there with Intentions, that I know for sure. His awareness that he loves her will hit him later that night, like a collapsing wall.
    • Maybe I will have her hang the El Greco reproduction in her living room. It may be just the trigger for his epiphany.
    If anyone has plowed through all this, what do you think? Does that sound like a way a guy might fall in love with a woman he's previously taken for granted?
     
  14. peachalulu
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    Whenever I change places I usually go through a process of why - does the new idea better fit something symbolically?, does the new place better suit the character?, does the new place better fit my scope of knowledge? does the new place have more opportunities for showing character, atmosphere, tone or plot.
    Another thing would be to decide on how the change will effect the play out of scenes. If he drops by could he do that during a cooking lesson or would it be easier to interrupt her during her downtime at the cafe.
    I really like this idea! It's got good potential for turning into a very sensuous scene.

    I plowed through - lol! It sounds quite good. Smooth. I'm not sure where you want to hit the mark in your novel on where they're actually get together or where they admit their love so to speak so it's hard to offer advice on pace or on elevating each new scene to maximize the sexual tension. But so far it looks good!
     
  15. Catrin Lewis
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    @peachalulu
    Very true. I like the vibe of the greasy spoon diner where the scene is currently set; I like the snarkiness of the waitress, I like the bit of business I've added since I posted the chapters in the Workshop, where Eric's so distracted he doesn't take in what the "Veteran's Day Special" is and is comically indignant when the waitress slaps down a plate of Sh!t-on-a-Shingle with a side of Del Monte fruit cocktail. I like the diner mostly because it provides him a neutral arena for him to fight out his reaction to the disagreement he and Sandy have just had.

    The biggest things in favor of switching it to an eatery run by his on-again, off-again girlfriend Leah are a) to show his attitude towards women and their work (I was totally off in my depiction of him in the Workshop excerpt), and b) to show the cooled-down state of his relationship with the woman he'd considered his girlfriend for the past 3 or 4 years. As much as I want the readers to be rooting for Eric and Sandy to get together, they need to see that when he switches his allegiance from Leah it's because the romantic side of their relationship really is at an end, by mutual consent. I could never see the attractiveness of characters who act like jerks, but it's ok because "he's a jerk for me."

    Against this is, first, that Leah being the kind of woman I know she is (artsy, foreign film buff, etc.), she would be running a trendy cafe; no putting her in charge of the diner. But would a cafe be open on a Sunday night? If so, there needs to be something to attract patrons. An open mike, maybe? A jazz guitarist? (Whatever place he ends up that evening, I have to have Eric hear a song that reminds him of his mother and her career aspirations.) All this activity might militate against his being able to process his thoughts.

    Then, too, would he feel comfortable talking to Mike about one woman while the woman he still considers his girlfriend, more or less, is in the room and maybe bringing things to his table? Since we can rightly assume they haven't seen each other in days or maybe weeks (both being so busy), wouldn't they want to sit down together and have a cozy chat? Is Eric likely to talk to Leah about Sandy? It might cross his mind-- but he'd condemn it as crass and make it keep on going.

    Thinking about it, I believe I'll keep him in the diner and leave Leah in her cookwares shop. If these other plot development points are essential, I'll figure out some other way to get them in.
     
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  16. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Progress since last time . . .

    Title:
    Free Souls
    Chapter in Play: Part 2, Chapter 12; Part 3, Chapters 1-5
    Beginning Word Count: 93,308
    Ending Word Count: 98,614

    As usual, the final word count doesn't take into consideration all the replaced material and sketch notes I took out. Once I get my mind around the arithmetic, I'll edit this post and put up something closer to actual words written.

    For me, word count isn't really the issue. The lower I can get it, the better. The main thing is writing what I need to to get the point across.


    I'm making progress on Marvin. I think I'm doing better showing Sandy having taken him on as an art project without her being so self-conscious about it. I need to work harder on letting the reader know that Marvin the Loser is a reaction against Jeff the Campus Idol/Rapist. I've deleted some paragraphs that were heavyhanded on that subject; do I need to have her reflect on it at all, or will the intelligent reader say,"Oh, gosh, I see what she's doing with him"?

    A member of another writers' forum graciously replied to a question I asked on whether Sandy's situation the summer after Jeff's attack is realistic. She herself had gone through the trauma of rape and said yes, the behavior I've written for my MC is lifelike indeed. She alerted me to the fact of ongoing PTSD, and I'mworking little episodes of that in (without making the book about the assault per se).

    The two chapters at the beginning of Book 3 are revised and reposted on the Workshop. They're four chapters now, because I needed to show where Eric's head is re: women and their work and his place in championing that. So I lead off with two chapters flashing back to his home life as an 11-year-old. There are some very affecting scenes (if I say so myself); I just hope that nobody will insist that because I've given him an abusive, arbitrary father he has to be abusive and arbitrary, too.

    His relationship with his mother isn't the healthiest it could be . . . Gack. Do I have to show that complicating his relationship with Sandy? I hope not, it would seriously up the word count. I'll take time to think about it.

    I've rewritten chapters 3 and 4 (formerly 1 and 2) to incorporate critique I got on the Workshop. Kept the former in the diner and only Mike is there. I've made Eric a lot more discreet about getting his opinion re: Sandy's refusal to accept the promotion, and when Mike volunteers info about her relationship with Marvin, he'll do his best to shut him up. But what has been heard cannot be unheard . . .

    I've given Paul his brother the lines that make him see he's been using Sandy as an appendage; Paul also warns him to knock this off before he hires any more staff.

    So enter one big difficulty: Does he do this? How hard is it for him? And another problem: As long as they're headed in the same direction, Sandy really enjoys feeling she's in sync with him!

    But maybe that's the clue: "In sync," vs. appropriated by, subsumed by, overwhelmed by.

    That's something else I'll save for later. I've had a couple days' vacation this week and spent them writing pretty intensively. Now my excerpt is back up for review and it's time for awhile to do something else.

     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't know but it sounds very intriguing.

    You have so much here. I'm glad you are working on one project but I'm impressed with all of it.
     
  18. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    And none of it is fantasy!:whistle::whistle:
     
  19. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    A little more after letting it rest for awhile . . .

    Title: Free Souls
    Chapters in Play: Part 2, Chapter 12; Part 3, Chapter 5
    Beginning Word Count: 98,614
    Ending Word Count: 98,522

    Looks like I've gone retrograde on my word count, doesn't it? Yay me, that's the idea.

    Finished Part 3, Chapter 5, maybe a week or so ago. That's the scene where Eric trips over himself (and is late for an important meeting) getting the wording to a note to Sandy Just Right. I've left it a little unpolished so it doesn't sound just like me . . . And I confess that in writing it I was inspired by the scene in Dorothy L. Sayers' Gaudy Night where the heroine Harriet Vane has to write a letter to Lord Peter and is surprised to find herself taking so much care over it, considering her claim not to care all that much for him.

    Got up to nearly 100,000 words with that, then I finished rewriting Part 2, Chapter 12 today. But along with that I was able to delete nearly 2,000 unnecessary words! Hurray!

    Reading some of the latest crits on my Workshop submissions is helping me do that. Got to know what's really important to the story and what's over-exposition and what's pure self-indulgence.

    I'm to the point where I'm really, really considering deep-sixing all or most of Part 2 for the good of the book overall. I won't be "murdering my darlings," not exactly; more like sending them into exile. If I do get rid of it, I'm not clear on how much or on the best way to incorporate the crucial info into the story's present day. Maybe the best thing to do is to get on with the plot; that is, stop rewriting and get down the parts I haven't tackled yet, and what to do will be come to me as I go along.

    I haven't quite decided if it's really essential to show the lunch where Eric and Sandy come to professional terms. There's some things that happen during that week that I'd like to get in, but they aren't enough for a full chapter. I may have Sandy go spend Thanksgiving with her old friend Carole, and they can have a nice gossip that will illuminate S's decision to keep her feelings for E under control (good luck on that, girl!) . . . Maybe I should write that first and go back and see what I can do with the previous week. Most of it needs to be from Eric's POV, that's the problem. One page from him and four from her in the same chapter? Meh.
     
  20. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    More progress (last worked on on 9/3/14):

    Title:
    Free Souls
    Chapters in Play: Part 3, Chapters 6 & 7
    Beginning Word Count: 98,522
    Ending Word Count: 104,415


    With these chapters I resolve, for the time being at least, my MCs' conflicts over the changes in the office. I'm also developing the matter of Eric's increasing interest in Sandy as a woman and her simultaneous resolution to pull back from her emotional involvement with him. She doesn't do a consistent job of it-- Chapter 6 includes the incident where he comes upon her singing "D'amour l'ardente flamme,"-- but in a Chapter 7 conversation with her old friend Carole she is full of commitment to do better. I've also given her a PTSD reaction left over from her sexual assault ten years before, when Carole's husband trips over the cat and inadvertently pins Sandy against the kitchen counter. She lashes out, rather . . . But all is smoothed over, and the husband puts her in touch with a new potential client, who will have his own role to play later.

    I've decided to keep Eric in denial at this point. He's still all What Will This Mean for the Office???

    As I write it nags at me that most of Part 2 will likely end up suppressed. So I'm wanting to work Part 2 material into Part 3, but how much? I'm not ready to take the plunge.

    Then there's the disappointment. With the end of Chapter 7 I've come to the place where I'm getting back to the body of TS83. For weeks, yea, months, I've assumed that once I get there I can just transcribe for awhile. But too much has changed and I can't. Phooey.

    Been working on genealogy the past week. But writing goes on in the head and wants out.
     
  21. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Title: Free Souls
    Chapters in Play: Part 3, Chapters 8, 9, & 10
    Beginning Word Count: 104,415
    Ending Word Count: 107,877


    When I first wrote TS83, it was in an amalgam of limited third person and omniscient. Heck, I just wrote the story; rather, it seemed to write itself, and the words just poured out of me without regard to literary rules.

    In the revision, I'm taking the POV to a close-ish third and it's forcing me to make decisions I don't like. Some of my best-- by which I mean my most ironic and snarky-- lines are uttered by the narrator. But now that my narrators are essentially my two main characters, I have to cut those lines. Or find a way to make my MCs say them, which is unlikely because most of the time the clever statements are being made about one or both of them in their temporary cluelessness.

    But what has to be done has to be done.

    As I move deeper into TS83 territory, I'm also seeing that I can and ought to cut certain scenes I've written from other characters' points of view. In a chapter or two I'll be working with the incident where a crime is perpetrated against Eric, my male main character. For the plot's sake I have to bring him out of it unsure that it was a crime at all and not an unfortunate accident. But as written I show the act from the perp's perspective, and that probably leaves the reader thinking, "Gosh, yes, that happened on purpose; good grief, Eric, are you going to be one of those supposedly-bright fictional people who go conveniently clueless just to keep the plot pot boiling?" It also forces me to go into a lot of detail explaining how the perp thought he was successful when he wasn't and just exactly why Eric was pretty sure the mishap was no crime at all.

    But if I cut the act of the crime out altogether and just have him report it to Sandy afterwards, that will, I think, keep the reader in Eric's head and lead him or her to go along with his opinion.

    As to the chapters I've written the past couple of days . . . They're all right . . . sort of . . . but nothing better. Could be I'm not showing the sexual tension I introduced in Chapter 6. Sure, both MCs are (separately) suppressing it for the sake of their work, and the work channels a lot of it away. But this is a novel, dammit, and I have to show it's still there, growing, waiting to emerge.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2014
  22. Catrin Lewis
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    Title: Free Souls
    Chapters in Play: Part 3, Chapter 9 (previously mislabelled as 10) through Chapter 24
    Beginning Word Count: 107,877
    Ending Word Count: 134,233


    Golly, that's a lot of words. The only thing that keeps me from fearing I've created an absurd bloated monster and giving it up in despair is what @jannert said above about just getting it all out there and doing the cutting back later.

    The story is marching on. I continue to push the omniscient narrator off the page. I'm ramping up the background tension from the thriller plot. I've brought my protagonists to the point (IMHO) where their romance is something a reader will believe.

    I'm now on the verge of rewriting the Big Scene, where they both drop the fears and the poses and the self-deception and confess their love for one another. But as written in TS83, my hero's heart crisis is all narrator, all the time. Very poetic, and affecting in its way (All right, you who said "Very purple!" can just shut up). How to keep the effect while adhering to the good old show, don't (just) tell dictum?

    School has restarted. As I mentioned in the Train Station, I get most of my writing done there. I go so far as to reject or accept prospective sub teaching jobs according to how much writing I think I'll get done during the day.

    Not sure how much writing I'll get done tomorrow. Chapter 25 will take a lot of thought.
     
  23. jannert
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    Oh, this is an exciting point for you, isn't it? Finally, the culmination of the relationship you've been building. As somebody who leans heavily toward melodrama in my first draft, I'd say just whap it out there, however you see it happening, however melodramatic it may sound. Melodrama is very easy to edit out at later stages. I think what might be more difficult is adding IN emotion and feeling to a piece that's as dry as a bone to begin with.

    I got an interesting viewpoint from a recent beta reader of my story. The love relationship between my two characters is crucial in my story, and building it takes time (while other things happen as well.) However, the relationship is not the point of my story—only a factor in it—and actually culminates in 'success' roughly 2/3 of the way through the book. I had originally written the story to include not only the scene (s) where the relationship is finally acknowledged and comes to fruition, but then included a chapter just afterwards that depicted their wedding.

    During a recent editing process, I decided to cut the wedding chapter altogether, because it seemed to add bulk and was just an indulgence on my part, because I enjoyed seeing them get married, etc. When I gave that edited version to a beta reader, she said 'but I was hoping to see the wedding, and you just skipped over it!' That was a pleasant surprise. So I reinstated the chapter, with a bit more confidence.

    I'd say anybody who wants a fast-paced, action-based story will probably not like either yours or mine. So write for the people who will like this sort of story. And do enjoy that moment you've been building towards, and give your readers the emotional fulfillment they deserve, after watching the couple to and fro throughout the novel. It's wonderful when you make good stuff happen, isn't it?
     
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  24. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Title: Free Souls
    Chapters in Play: Part 3, Chapters 25 through 30; Part 4, Chapters 1 through 13
    Beginning Word Count: 134,233
    Ending Word Count: 165,830


    It's been awhile, but I've been too busy writing (and working on my house) to make entries in my Progress Journal.

    So. My protagonists have confessed their love for one another and come pretty darn close to consummating it. That can't happen yet: have to keep the tension going. She has opened up to him about the attempted rape ten years before, and I've given them three days and four nights of being blissfully happy until they have their first major fight. I leave its resolution in doubt, and that brings us to the end of Part 3.

    In Part 4 my object has been to develop the thriller plot, giving hints as to what the villain is up to while still allowing my protagonists to discount that it has anything to do with him. I'm bringing along the spiritual/idealistic/religious theme, the big question emerging as "What would you be willing to die for?" And I've been working to ramp up the love between these two to the point that if either of them were confronted with the choice between upholding their highest principles vs. assuring the life, health, and well-being of the other, they'd each be sorely tempted to compromise their principles.

    In Chapter 13 I've got the two of them on a road trip that will in a few hours bring them face to face with the villain and make these hard choices necessary. And I could happily go on working on that and maybe actually finish the revision in a week or two. The outline of it is all in TS83, there's just some tweaking I have to do around the edges.

    But. But! Thanks to a Facebook appeal I have a beta reader. Maybe two. I can no longer put off making the decision: Do I throw the novel at them as is and see what they think of Part 2's Great Diversion? Or do I listen to my writer's conscience and work like the dickens to cut it down?

    If the latter, the book is getting a Prologue made up largely of a scene from Part 2. Yeah, I hear the collective anti-prologue groan. But it's either that, leave the nested story as it is, or slide in a fake reminiscence.

    The one committed beta reader wants the novel for a road trip he and his wife are taking on the 3rd. So whatever I send him has to be emailed by the 1st. Prologue and Part 1? That should do for now.

    With this comes another decision I've wrestled with and I think-- I believe-- I've finally made: I have to change the title.

    I originally adopted the title Free Souls, taken from Act 2, Scene 3 of Hamlet, as a play on the fact that the idea for the story came from a real life situation involving real-life people. So just as Hamlet has the players stage The Murder of Gonzago/The Mousetrap and falsely assures his uncle Claudius that it has nothing whatsoever to do with him and the death of Hamlet's late father, I used to visualize myself saying the same sort of thing if anyone ever asked me if my plot or characters were taken from life. Hypocritical, true, but it seemed like a good joke at the time.

    But except for one scene, the play Hamlet never comes into the original at all. I've tried to bring Hamlet themes into the revision, but supplanted parents, reluctant revenge, and unwanted responsibility aren't what my story's about. If it resonates with any work of literature it's Goethe's Faust and Berlioz' musical setting of it-- especially, the desire to gain it all by giving in to a devil's bargain. Then there are references to the old Irish hymn "Be Thou My Vision" and the Matthew 6 verses on the health or singleness of the eye (in the King James Version), which I interpret to be talking about keeping one's focus on what's important in life and not letting yourself be distracted by what's not.

    So I think I will-- no, I shall make a new file, and from henceforth the novel will be rechristened The Single Eye.

     
  25. Catrin Lewis
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    Title: The Single Eye
    Chapters in Play: Prologue; Part 1, Chapters 12 and 13; Part 2 (cut out); Part 4, Chapters 14 through 17
    Beginning Word Count: 165,830
    Ending Word Count: 105,838


    Well, I did it. Changed the title, wrote a prologue, and cut out all the backstory that made up Part 2. Having a beta reader waiting for your manuscript really makes you focus.

    I've been writing whenever I can, even at the expense of finishing some renovations on my house. I've got my protagonists into the clutches of the villain, whom the heroine has just recognized in dramatic fashion at the end of Chapter 17. Barring a short scene or two, the rest of the novel should follow TS83 pretty closely and it'll be all smooth sledding from here.

    Right?

    Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    The general story line and action can stay more or less the same. But 85% of the villain's lines will need to be thrown out and rewritten. Ditto the climactic exchange between my protagonists. Oh, it's awful, awful, awful the way I have it now! Throwing-up, raving in the streets awful!

    There's no way I can get a completed novel to my beta reader by the 1st. He and his wife will just have to put up with a cliffhanger.

    Assuming they read it that far . . ..
     

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