Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Making Things Concrete

As the summer starts to wind down (ha! I wish!), I have to say that my knitted blanket, the thing that started what became a minor obsession, has worked out exactly as I hoped. On warm nights, the open, lacy blanket on top of a sheet has been just enough weight and warmth. If it gets cooler as the night goes on, I pull over my light down throw. I've got an idea for another blanket I'd like to make that's more elaborate and that would work as a full-on bedspread, but that's about three projects down in the queue and will require some thinking, as it's a modification of a Victorian shawl pattern. First I have to finish the current blanket, a cables and bobbles pattern I'm doing for Project Linus, and there's a Victorian capelet I'd like to have ready before Octopodicon (a steampunk convention) in November, and then there are potential Christmas gifts.

I spent yesterday revisiting and replotting the current project. I decided to start by working out the resolution and then reverse engineering. That led me to realizing that I had to commit to who the villain was. The villain is mostly offstage in the first half of the book, pulling strings that affect the viewpoint characters without them knowing who's doing it (like in a mystery), and I had several characters from the previous book who could potentially be doing it. I took another look at the previous book's outcome, and realized that a character I hadn't even been considering as the villain here actually made the most sense. Then I had to figure out exactly what the villain was doing offstage to thwart the heroes, essentially plotting the book from the villain's point of view. That made me realize that I'd done a few things wrong, but fixing those things will make the rest of the book a lot easier. I still haven't quite met in the middle -- I have the beginning and the end -- but I probably need to fix the beginning before I can figure out the middle. I have to give some props to Lou Anders of Pyr Books for his screenwriting lessons for novelists workshop at WorldCon for helping me figure out the end, which set all this off. I was pretty vague about the outcome, but I needed it to be concrete. The goal had to be something we could see being achieved, and we needed to definitively see the heroes achieve it. It also helps if achieving the goal coincides with the heroes realizing something important about themselves. Working until I got that made other things fall into place. I also think I've got a more concrete structure instead of a nebulous mass. The structure doesn't really change much because it was more a case of discovering it than creating it, but it makes it easier to think about the story in a coherent way.

We'll see how coherent I can be today. I took my first ever dose of Allegra in desperation when the allergies (ragweed season, yay!) got to the point of distraction. Benadryl works on the allergies but knocks me out, and I have to drive this afternoon. Theoretically, Allegra is non-drowsy, but supposedly non-drowsy Zyrtec knocked me out for 24 hours. I have children's Allegra and took a child's dose. So far, the sneezing and runny nose have eased, but I feel slightly "off." It's not a sleepy or impaired "off," just a sense of difference that may or may not be related to the drug. I may just be in shock from not having nasty allergy symptoms.

And tonight I have my first real choir session with the Holy Terrors. I need to come up with an action-packed lesson plan designed to maintain the attention of kids with serious ADHD for 45 minutes. I don't know if there's an actual medical diagnosis here, but I figure I should plan for it, and if they can focus longer, then it's easier to adapt to remove items from the list while doing other things longer than it is to scramble to come up with new things to do when they get bored after thirty seconds and I run through my whole lesson plan in fifteen minutes.

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