The Virtues of Outlining: The Calendar Timeline!

Seriously, sometimes it REALLY helps to make a grounded timeline. I picked out an event to start my timeline, and then started working out days and times compared to my rough outline. I grabbed calendars from November 2011 through April 2012 and everything started falling into place. Megs has a family gathering in the timeline–oh, look, that week is Thanksgiving, that’s convenient. There’s an office party–oh, Christmas, right. Valentine’s Day, the Ides of March, April Fools, and a convenient Friday the 13th all line up to plot points, or have spawned a couple of Wouldn’t It Be Interesting If THIS Happened plot ideas.

Even better, this means the sequel is lined up for the summer and fall of an election year! Just like I wanted it to be. HANDY!

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Fossilised Hedgehog

“I had a hedgehog once,” I told Ola.

“Once?”

“When I was a teenager,” I said. “I worked in a petstore.”

“What was his name?” she asked.

“Um, I’ve forgotten,” I said. “Well, I remember my friend’s hedgehog. She named hers Hegel.”

“Hegel?” asked Ola.

“Hegel. The German Idealist,” I said. “Dude who wrote the dialectic of Lordship and Bondage.”

“Right, him.”

“Now I remember,” I said. “Schpink. I named my hedgehog Schpink. I even remember where I buried him. Up Provo Canyon in the woods next to the Girl Scout camp. In a plastic Tupperware container. That’s going to be a nasty surprise for somebody someday.”

“Someday,” said Ola. “That stuff doesn’t break down.”

“Long after we’re all dead, when our species is gone and has been replaced, some alien lifeform is going to find that little plastic container with a very nasty hedgehog corpse in it.”

“Like Jurassic Park,” Ola put in. “They could use the DNA to revive hedgehogs.”

“It’s a future hedgehog fossil. Sort of.”

We thought about the small distant corpse and wrinkled our noses.

Lake Symphony

I walked down to Lake Union again on Monday evening.

Only a few days earlier, I had been lakeside yet again, watching the fireworks over Gasworks Park, and weirdly resenting the masses of people pushing into what I felt illogically was My Space. Normally, only a handful of people are walking the docks, but on the Fourth, the park was a wall of people.

Fortunately for my equanimity, Monday found our urban lake habitat restored its usual quiet self. Or what passes for quiet, since as I sat on the sun-bleached boards of the wooden boats docks, I began to hear noises I mistaken for silence.

The dock itself swayed with a certain syncopation. On the upward thrust of the gentle waves, I heard a rather high-pitched mewling sound, soft, like a weak kitten. Downwards, the dock emitted a metalic croak. Aged metal strained against the push and pull of the water. Beneath it all was a constant gurgle.

It was unexpectedly harmonious, taken as a whole. Any single sound would have annoyed on their own, intruding on a bare silence. Altogether, they charmed.

I began to mentally sort each sound, as if I was shaking it off, extracting it from the whole, holding it up to the light, and then delicately re-inserting it. I catalogued them all:

* One invisible wasp, tethered and slippery
* A clickety zippering noise, shiny like ball bearings
* Velvety rustle of the politely distant motorboat, refusing to intrude
* A strident goose honk
* The embarrassed quacks reproaching the goose
* The mechanical purring growl of the seaplane
* The indiscreet and rather gauche burp of a propeller refusing to start
* The slithery hiss of a winch unspooling
* Sloshy groans
* Twittering tourists, shielded behind unfolded maps.
* The sound of curiosity, as emitted by the gentleman in the burnt orange t-shirt, watching me with noisy soundlessness from his yacht, as I scribbled down this list.

Writing Report: On the Lake

Tonight I strolled down to Lake Union, sprawled next to the dock, and wrote by hand in my purple notebook of outlining-ness. I wrote some motivational scenes from a character’s viewpoint, I wrote some emotional stream of consciousness, and then I did an analysis on whether or not the snakes should be united in hating Jason (Meg’s boyfriend) when the book opens or divided. United they slither means that Megs has immediate opposition in all things, which raises the stakes for her, since there is nothing worse than having your family hate your boyfriend. But it’s so early in the book’s structure. And divided gives them a chance to display the opposing personalities of all three characters early on: Megs, Elaphe, and Ignatius. Or I can have all three of them kibitz on the subject and have Eph and Igs come to a reluctant agreement over Jason for differing reasons. Which is what I’m tending towards.

Problems I’m worried about: A) Making Megs unlikeable by not being spined up enough to leave Jason already and holding onto what is evidentally a dying relationship and B) if this would be inconsistent with the rest of her personality which is rather bold otherwise. I wonder how much of this is self-sabotage–she does have insecurities, even if she gets prickly and defensive and not-giving a fuck outwardly–and how much is her realising he is a toxic douchebag at this point. (Not an irretrievable toxic douchebag, mind you, but Jason’s salvation is NOT going to come via Megs.)


When not writing Snakes stuff, I wrote descriptive sentences about the waterfront. I even parlayed some of those back into the narratives for Meg’s emotional landscape, as the idea of boats and wakes was evocative emotionally speaking.

Tomorrow night is another improv night, so bound to be a bit light on the writing front, unless I manage during lunch.

Housekeeping Note

I’ll be in Vancouver for the weekend, so I won’t be updating the site. HOWEVER, I am taking my writing notebook to make sure stuff gets written. The point of this site is to aid in my ritualisation of writing, turning it into a regular thing.