Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Couple Of Mid-January Updates

I am enjoying writing B3 though, and I'm looking forward, maybe even tomorrow, to having Alex and Julie from the dead and the gone show up. In my head this morning, I rewrote a scene so that Miranda and Alex do something together, rather than Miranda and Julie. I need to give Alex more facetime.

I've been writing scenes where Miranda goes what I now call house hunting, searching deserted houses for things like toilet paper. Sometime around yesterday I realized that while Miranda, Matt, and Jon were leaving the house, Mom never seemed to join them.So I had a wonderful idea. I decided that Mom has become agoraphobic. And this afternoon, I wrote a scene where it would make perfect sense for Mom to leave the house, but she chooses not to.

This is what I love best about the writing process. Having an usable insight that takes me by surprise, and leads the plot in slightly different directions.Today, after working, I got on the treadmill and tried to remember the last time Mom went out in Life As We Knew It. First I thought it was before she twisted her ankle the second time. Then I remembered she shoveled snow from the garage door in early December. And then I remembered she went Christmas caroling.But B3 starts April 25 (I know, because I just checked the manuscript), and since I don't recall Mom leaving the house after Christmas, that would be four months of growing agoraphobia.

I don't know who's going to confront Mom about it. I'm assuming not Miranda, because I think it's the kind of thing you don't notice if you're living in the situation. So maybe Matt's bride Syl, or maybe Dad. And I don't know how long I'll play it out, whether it will be a factor at the very end of the book, when I plan for the family to leave on the long (over 300 miles- I google mapped it) journey to Pittsburgh. But I can hear Mom saying that she's afraid if she leaves the house, her entire world will collapse. Except by book's end, her entire world will have collapsed (something Miranda may point out), and Mom, terrified but courageous, will take those first steps outside.

Also on the treadmill today, I decided Miranda is going to bike into a pothole and fall down hard. Nothing like major bruising to make the end of the world even more unpleasant.

No wonder Mom is staying in these days!


For those of you keeping score, I'm on page 132. I'm not going to hit my fantasy number of 150 this week, since tomorrow the skating starts in the morning and then never ends, but I do know which two scenes come next, and they're both really good ones, at least in my mind. I'm not quite sure what happens after that, but I'm assuming by the time I'm ready to write it, I'll figure it out.

It absolutely does not count as a spoiler (I have spoken) to say there's a character named Charlie in B3. I needed a last name for him, and I considered naming him Charlie Davis since that's the name of the John Garfield character in Body And Soul. But then I decided I didn't want to picture John Garfield every time I wrote about Charlie, so I searched for other names that worked with Charles/Charlie.

Names for characters are so important to me, and I regret not using more ethnic ones, but once you name a character O'Hara or Budanov, readers will make associations with them which may or may not be what you want to convey. And there are spelling issues to contend with. The same New York Times article which mentions Budanov also refers to Isa Khadzhimuradov.Isa I could spell.

I ended up giving Charlie the last name of Rutherford, in honor, I thought, of Rutherford B. Hayes (I don't like Charles Hayes, because of the Z/Z sound, and besides, Charlie Hayes used to play for the New York Yankees and caught the final out in the 1996 World Series). Then I realized my Rutherford association is Lumpy Rutherford from Leave It To Beaver.

You know, Wally Cleaver seemed like a socially apt kid. It's remarkable his two best friends were Lumpy Rutherford and Eddie Haskell. Now there's something I didn't worry about in my peak Live It To Beaver years.