Thank you to the fine folks who responded to my Groped entry (women, I assume, but you never know on the Internet).
(This person looks too much like an ingenue to be Weezy)
I asked to read you a passage describing Louise Napolitani … Weezy in my novels … getting groped by a guy she refers to as ‘the Lizard’ after the fact. She’s at a fancy party, and the Lizard is the host. Does she make a scene? Punch the guy? Perhaps, as one of my friends suggested, dig her heel into his instep? The conclusion was evenly matched between ‘don’t make a scene’ and ‘raise hell’. Another interesting dichotomy was how to handle telling or net telling Joe Mayfield. As she says of her relationship to Joe, “If it ain’t love, it ain’t bad.” Does she tell him, assuming that to not tell him might poison their relationship? Or does she say to herself that she’s a big girl, and she shouldn’t risk prejudicing Joe about his new boss?
Tough questions for Weezy. She’s no shrinking violet, and she’s unwilling to be intimidated by the Lizard. She handles the grope itself with sarcasm but not violence, and she does end up telling Joe the day after the party. I’m still revising, but I will put the scene up in a week or two.
A month has gone by since I promised myself that I would get my electronic world in order and blog twice a week. I also promised myself that I would not give into the temptation to publish personal banalities when I have nothing interesting to report. But that’s not it, either. I have a couple of good posts that require some audio/video editing, and I just haven’t had time to do them justice.
I’m attending the Cape Cod Writers Conference, on which more will follow. And, Oh, yes, I got some fascinating stuff on my ‘groped’ request. More on that shortly.
Novice writers get a raft of advice. One of the most repeated is the admonition to ‘Write what you know.’ Probably a good idea. After all, if your character is someone entirely outside of your experience, how will you know how she reacts to the events in the plot?
That brings me to the problem at hand: In my current story, my protagonist Weezy, Joe Mayfield’s special friend (lady friend? See last post ‘Pelvic Affiliate’) attends a business event with him. Now, Weezy is 35 and no shrinking violet. At the event, Joe’s uber-boss slips a hand on Weezy’s behind. I need some help from the women who read this, because I haven’t been groped. Fondled, maybe, and then only in a friendly way. Never groped, though.
What would you do?
There’s some background on Weezy here, although I’m more interested in how YOU would react. The lead-in to the grope is an excerpt from Skins and Bone, here.
If you are willing to answer, write a response to this post. In the response, let me know whether you’re willing to have your answer be public. (I moderate all posts and will not show your response if you tell me it should not be public.)
For my first novel, Hack the Yak, I just started writing, mostly character sketches. Then wove the people together into a plot. Call it the Crash Ahead writing method. I loved writing that first draft, typos and inconsistencies included. I’d just sit down and throw myself at my characters and watch ‘em react. The plot suffered. Stuff happened in Spring that should have happened in Winter. Characters ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Subplots wrenched control away from the main plot . But, ahhh, it was fun.
Early in the novel I’m working on now, I joined two writing groups. We’ve had some discussion on the subject. I got fired up about using an outline and began assembling (electronic) index cards to sort out the plot. I just couldn’t get into the outlining business. Too much like work. But I could see that the plot would benefit. So, being a middle-of-the-road, see-both-sides-and-generally-stay-in-the-middle kind of guy, I produced a fairly detailed synopsis, then got back to what I like doing, generally following the synopsis. We’ll see how it goes.
Potholes! Newly returned to Minneapolis, I had forgotten that potholes are an attribute not of winter, but of that brief season between Winter and Road Construction called Spring.
I get potholes in my stories, too. In the chapter of Skins and Bone that I just put up, someone in my writing group pointed out that Nita Solchow, a minor chararacter who is interested (perhaps romantically) in my protagonist Joe Mayfield is far too emotionally fragile when confronted with the fact that Joe’s attention and intention is toward Louise Napolitani. Nita is, after a New York investment banker. It was a point well taken. I was talking about how she felt, not how she acted. So, I’ve got to fill that pothole with some cement and do a bit of a rewrite.
They always say “Join writing groups”. When I started out, I was skeptical. After all, my voice is my voice. Could other people perfect it? But, ‘they’ always say to join writing groups … So …
There are quite a few groups where I live and work, and I’ve been lucky to find a couple that I really like. Having found them, I’m learning their value. First off, listening to other voices makes one’s own voice stronger, better. At risk of being obscure, it’s a little like the bracing that keeps the soundboard of a guitar from warping. In a fine instrument, the luthier shapes the bracing by shaving away parts that are unnecessary, leaving the soundboard as strong as it was before the shaping but more responsive … clearer sounding. That’s what a writing group does, at least for me. Torturing the musical simile a little more, having a good writer look at your own stuff is a little like listening to covers of a song you know well done by other musicians. You always love the original, but the covers broaden your horizons.
Several Posts ago, I asked for advice on books on writing. I got some great answers to add to my short list. One that I missed is This Year You Write Your Novel, by Walter Mosley. It’s a great, short, pithy treatise on writing by a skilled and prolific writer. It speaks to my difficulties and aha! moments like no other book I’ve read.
I learned a valuable lesson from author Michelle Hoover during a class at the Cape Cod Writers Conference last August. As I said in the prior post, the draft of my first novel came out pretty easily, but was too large. On the second day of this particular class, Michelle gave us a list of sixty questions we should be able to answer about our main character(s). Some were easy (Name, Sex, Birthplace), but most required complex answers (e.g., What would he/she see about you that you don’t understand yourself?). I started sweating … I
Some character questions
could answer most of them for my two protagonists, but laying out all that material would require another overlong novel. So I asked the obvious question. She smiled a friendly smile, one maybe inclining a little toward the kind she would use with a young child … or a neophyte novelist. “You only put in the story that which has to be in the story, but if you can’t answer all those questions about a main character, the character will not be believable to the reader.” It was an Aha! Moment for me, and most of the 10,000 words I cut out of the novel after that were things I know but that the reader doesn’t need to know and therefore probably doesn’t want to know. It’s still a hard balance, though. I like my characters. I want you to get to know them. But I understand now that there is such a thing as Too Much Information.