One of the things I’m learning from reading other people’s work in progress is the importance and unimportance of mechanics. In several groups, I’ve read stuff that’s mechanically exquisite but not very interesting. Then the other day, there was a piece with interesting characters and the rhythm of a good song. But I had to keep stopping to reread because the mechanics were ‘invented’ … no quote marks to set off dialog, one-line paragraphs breaking up thoughts, commas where they shouldn’t be, none where they should be, and so on. Maybe James Joyce or Faulkner can do that stuff, but it’s hard for we mortals.
I’m realizing good mechanics make it easier for the reader to enjoy the story. Sure, breaking convention is sometimes important, but it’s harder to pull off that plain vanilla mechanics.
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.