I realized yesterday that I had the perfect ending for a short play I’m writing.
By “coincidence” it is the same suggestion I made to a writer in a critique group this week.
Clearly, I’m dealing with a meme.
In this case, the meme is two characters who cannot touch, do touch just once at the climax of the story to try to drive the emotion or reality of the piece.
I’m sure it will come up again, and if I dig far enough, I’ll find it in my older trunk stories, too.
By now you have seen this meme, which has a note from an “exhasperated parent” over the complicated way kids are being taught math. We are supposed to applaud this jerkwad behavior because for some reason stupidity is seen has honorable.
There is another one floating around that is a damned good problem, and the thing we’re supposed to applaud is a parents complaint that they don’t get it and there is an “easier way” which is the good old fashioned new math carryover method Uncle Josh learned.
Then, last night, in choir rehearsal, we read through a piece by Orlando Gibbons. Gibbons’ was listed, as is often done in musical scores, with his life span (1583-1625). The bass I was sitting next to said–in this order–“25 plus 10 is 35 plus 7…he was only 42, a very young man.”
Uncle Josh was very, very happy to hear this (not that a young man died at age 42, but the calculation method). This is the mental math many of us learn, once we understand the carryover method and practice with it enough, we get a sense of the numbers and realize, as the first article I linked to points out, subtraction finds the distance between numbers.
I don’t remember ever being taught this add-the-easy-distances method, but I discovered it, and i practiced it, and I use it today in my day job.
So, we’re supposed to be angry that we’re teaching kids to subtract? I think not.
One of the strange things about the current NaNoWriMo project is that it started in Present Tense Omniscient. This is not a natural way for me to write, even in summaries I tend to use Past Tense. I keep slipping into past tense as well. Ah, well. That’s life. It means I have a tendency to write “He sais” which is partly my fingers typing “said” (which, as Matt Hough pointed out at OryCon, is punctuation in fiction) and partly too-late remembering that this is present tense, so finishing up with the “s” instead of the “d”.
I’m also pantsing my way through this novel, which is not my favorite way to work. I’ve lost track of characters so I have Deputy Whatshername and Sheriff Whoeverhehis, a cooling corpse by the river named Victim and a not-so-pleasant character named Husband. His wife I named Qasey, which has all the conceipt of a cool sci-fi like name without being unpronounceable.
My search and replace feature is going to go into overdrive should I ever finish this.
A couple of weeks ago we visited my sister-in-law at her college and we hit the colleg bookstore, as we do in our family. There I discovered a “new” book by Dashiell Hammet: The Return of the Thin Man. It contains the stories Hammet wrote for the first two sequels to the first Thin Man movie. Because it is a treatment for a movie script, it is “tight” writing and it is written in present tense omniscient.
As I decided only Thursday what style of story to write, and that was based on Nick and Nora while using my established characters of Murdock Collins and Jordon Li, I found the natural voice to be Omniscient Third Person Present Tense. This is a strange way to write, especially has every other Murdock Collins story is First Person Past Tense.
The freedom of the voice is I can head hop, which makes writing a murder plot a bit tricky. The challenge is the characters all have to have their own opinion and to some extent, their own voice, and it can’t be filtered through Murdock’s normal sarcasm.
The other challenge I face in plotting this thing is I don’t know what the hell is going on. I know who dies. I’m kind of certain as to why, and very unsure about the who. I fear I’m going to break the firstrule of mystery writing by introducing the actual murderer some time in the third act. Right now I have a small cast of characters. I think one of the things that made the Thin Man movies so good was the large cast of characters, so I need to find a way to include more people.
Also, and I don’t know why this seems as important as it does, but I don’t kill anyone until almost 2,000 words in.