Groggy Ramblings


Barring any foolishness on my part, I will complete my 1000 Days effort on Memorial Day 2012. Since that’s only 3 days a way I’m guessing the chance is high that I’ll make that goal. Ha.

The last couple days of near two hundred word count efforts has exhausted me, so today I’m just going to talk about what I wrote.

I came across the wagon home of the James Button character in a rather lumpy, but not terribly surprising way. An artist I follow (also for lumpy reasons) recently posted a critique request. Five people responded. One of those people had a link to her art blog and after some scrolling there I came across her sketches of James’ mobile dwelling. While some might use the word stole to describe my usage of her work, I’ll hastily point out that she had no more than a name for James Button (actually Jim—I classed it up) and his home wasn’t mobile in her drawings. So, short of a name and a wagon-like dwelling I think anything I do next will be unassociated with the original.

Anyhow, I unconciously set this in the same world as the Merriweather Balloon Boat & Mobile Market. It ain’t a stretch.

Sadly, I’m a little more proud of the fact I gave Mr. Button a goal right out of the gate than I should be. Fortunately the grandure of that amazing feat is balanced by the groggy ramblings immediately following.

My plan was to have Mr. Button trapped in a town celebrating a minor holiday with more verve than he planned for, thus he would be encumbered on his trip to bigger and better places. His eight day trip he needs to complete in six. See how I built a ticking clock in there too? Yeah, no idea where that’s going; I probably ought to think that through a bit.

Nominally I intended to send him off to the Evercott’s estate, but that may have been because I couldn’t come up with any other place in the Merriweather world to send him. It might be worth it to consider both options before I proceed. If I send him to Evercott’s I keep the story tight, but might be jumping too soon. If I send him elsewhere I may be opening up the adventure, but not getting tot he main point for too long.

The answer to that is probably in the determination of what Mr. Button might be carrying that could make his trip to [where ever] so crucial.

Photo courtesy of sjrankin.

424 words on day 997

Some Town Here


All James Button wanted to do was to lay in his bunk, pull the quilt over his face, and escape this town, but the revelers just outside his door wouldn’t allow him any peace. Instead he busied his hands with the task of crafting new rails for his stock of flavoring herbs, medicaments, wool-stuffs, and clockworks. Till now he’d gotten by with a bit of quarter-round tacked to the lip of each shelf and good roads, but he was eight days out from [somewhere fun sounding] with a mountain tangle of road called [something fun sounding] and needing to be there in just six. His cargo would surely suffer fromt he trip. If he couldn’t get out of this [town] he could at least get ready to get out of this [town].

I started this yesterday and don’t like it much.

The little hand pointed to the twelve; James Button watched as the big hand crawled from the two to the three. He wanted to be asleep in his bunk—quilt pulled over his head as a guard against the mountains’ chill—but it was Shill’s Day and the revelers still reveled. The carousers still caroused.

In any normal town, in Corriedall or Brillen in Sheviot or Wendée, even in the great double city of Rough-Strong, Shill’s Day meant elaborate but over obvious cons during the day and a dinner among friends that evening where that year’s Shill footed the bill if they dined out or hosted the meal if they dined in. The next day was a working one. Here in [some town here] James discovered Shill’s Day meant something more, but he never discovered why. He was eight days out from [somewhere fun sounding] with a mountain tangle of road called [something fun sounding] and needing to be there in just six.

Photo courtesy of Susie Blackmon.


300 words on day 996

No Argument Here


I didn’t run off to explore the structure of an argumentative essay yesterday as you may have suspected. I’d already reached out to the Internet to help me refine—or embelish—my understanding of a sequel’s elements, so I finished that up. What I uncovered amused me more than elevated my understanding. The author I pedastle for illuminating scene and sequel structure for me appears to have been building from the prior work of his teacher. The similarities between their language was so strong that at first I thought maybe one had plagarized the other. Then, when I saw they had the same university press publisher, I thought maybe one was just the pseudonym of the other. Finally, the acknowledgement in the latter’s book made the relationship between the two clear.

This morning I explored an argument’s structure. That structure isn’t quite as bulletable as Bickham’s (via Swain) outline for sequels, but it is describable. I wasn’t surprised to find a modification of the core introduction-body-conclusion structure of any essay. I was pleased to find something I hadn’t expected following the conclusion however: next steps.

I’ve not yet taken action to meld the parts of a sequel to the relating parts of an argument—I don’t know that I will—but I’m sensing strong parallels between the two. As I see it, the point of a sequel is to demonstrate to the reader that the character has become believably convinced to do something based on the events of the preceding scenes. The character effectively argues points of evidence until they arrive at a decision then they take action.

The first element of a sequel, emotion, isn’t resolving as easily as the last three elements. I don’t think it must, but it would be elegant if it did. Maybe the character’s emotions are like the introduction of the arguement. Why the character is even considering these various points of argument. That seems like a stretch and requires that I slip in the relating element for the thesis statement. An element a character might not have ahead of their thinking.

Maybe that’s the trick. Emotionally driven characters will jump to a thesis statement type conclusion ahead of any substantial arguments whereas a more practically driven character will take the time to support or undermine their own initial reaction to the the prior scene. Spend more time ahead of the thesis on emotion and very little on the argument for one character. Spend more time weighing the facts for another.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Malone.

413 words on day 992

No Natural Facility


I’ve got the monitor turned on end. Can you tell?

Bickham describes writing structure in pairs. He begins with small cause and effect type pairings then accumulates layers till he begins talking about pairings hovering at the chapter level: scenes and sequels. Scenes have goals, conflict, more conflict, and outcomes. Sequels have emotions, thoughts, decisions, and actions. I’ve been trying to write the later these past few days.

I don’t seem to have any natural facility with sequels.

Not that I expected sequels would write easy. I just hadn’t realized how resistant I am to writing character thoughts and feelings on the page. I like to show evidence of those things in their guestures and minor actions. I feel like I’m good at that during scenes with conflict. When I need to write more in a character’s head, I find my flow staggers and stumbles. I’m looking for a way to get out of their head.

It feels too intimate, but I think I could get over that without much effort. The real trouble I see, is that I can’t form an argument with a charater’s emotions and thoughts that will lead to a decision with a pace that makes sense. In my barely credible amount of practice it’s been a struggle to write more than one sentence for each element of a sequel: Bob feels hatred. Bob thinks John is at fault. Bob decides to confront John. Bob grabs a gun and heads over to John’s place. I even have a hard time not using the key words in my writing.

This is the same conclusion I came to the first time I tried my hand at sequels a few months back—or a year ago. At that time I figured I needed to take a step further away from narrative writing and look into the classic techniques of argumentative essays. I didn’t do that then. I’m tempted to not do it now. Odd, huh?

Potentially foolish.

My thinking here is that I’ve only got a few days left on 1000 Days. My thinking here is that I’d like to keep my writing narrative. That I should save the argumentative essay thing for the next phase.

For those of your cringing. I’ll at least go google that to see what the general techniques are.

xxx words on day 991

Lifting Aluminum


Charming watched the lights of her river home recede while the flames spread through it. Another propane tank exploded lifting aluminum roof panels into the night sky. Flitting away from Song over the Benhá felt selfish. She would live when others would die, and that made her guilty. But Gane hadn’t given her any choice. He’d shaken her awake in her own bed and shoved clothes at her as told her she needed to come with him if she wanted to live.


She did want to live, but she hadn’t had time to understand the concussions Outward or the shuddering of the gangway beneath her feet as she ran to the Leaf. She hadn’t realized all of Song was under attack and not just her. Gane just pulled her behind him as they darted through empty passages lit by dim and sporadic fluorescent lamps. She could still feel his unwavering grip in her hand. She flexed her fingers and tried to rub out the memory of his certainty.

Charming decided no one would take choices from her again, then she turned away from the sight of her burning home and looked to the land. The cold river air disappeared as they crossed over the shore.

First photo courtesy of Carrie Kellenberger

Second photo courtesy of Xavi

xxx words on day 990

Simple Decisions

Been a while since I typed directly into my laptop. It never feels comfortable to my hands.

I’ve resigned myself to the seeming fact that this 1000 Day effort will be going out with more of a whimper than a roar. At least I keep getting back here, huh?

Rebecca pushed back from the flit pad railing. Tjon wouldn’t be coming back, and, except for the stars, the sky felt the same way she did: empty. She knew running wasn’t his choice, but the angry words they’d shared [at their last encounter] sapped her full confidence in that thought.

Uma was dead. Tjon was missing. And [the girl] had murdered [someone] and run deeper into the building. Rebecca checked the charge on her weapon; not much juice remaining. [The girl] needed to be stopped, so she holstered her [blaster, ugh] and pulled the barricade apart. She was going back in.

150 words on day 987

A Chat with Dr. Palmer

Here at the end I was expecting to say things like, “I wish I had more time.” not “It’s still so hard.”

“Pretend you were a comic book hero who could create fire from nothing. Describe to me how would you warm that glass of water?” Dr. Palmer kicked his chin toward the table and the glass.

Karen narrowed her eyes and tightened her lips, “Really?”

“I need New Karen for this.”

Karen took a slow breath and closed her eyes tight. She made her face into a rung out wet rag trying to twist out Old Karen at Dr. Palmer’s goofy suggestion. When she opened her eyes she started to take a wider stance.

Dr. Palmer put a hand on her arm before she could raise it. “Tell me; don’t show me.”

Karen lowered her arms and brought her feet back together. “OK. I suppose I would thrust my boobs and ass at the water then reach out with my fire shooting hands.”

“Good. You’re making this even easier.” He lifted his hand off her arm. She hadn’t realized it was still there and took it as leave to demonstrate the stance she described.

“Stop. As much as I’d love to see you try, we’re just talking still.” Dr. Palmer liked to talk, but Karen grew tired of talking a week ago. She wanted to start doing something. She wanted to shoot fire from her hands or spin up a whirlwind. “Repeat it to me, please.”

Dr. Palmer’s [description of demeanor]. [Made it hard for her to refuse.] [blah blah blah].

“Thrust boobs and…butt.” Karen remembered he was a teacher who require some decorum. “Reach out with fire shooting hands.”

“One by one, remove the elements you don’t need to heat the water.” Dr. Palmer grabbed her attention with his eyes and refused to release her to something less important. She could no longer even imagine the soft light of the library around her or the earthy smell of his books.


Dr. Palmer nodded her on like it wasn’t an obvious joke. She resisted rolling her eyes.


Another nod. Clearly he’d meant for her to continue. Karen broke his gaze and searched the room for help. The tiffany lamp held a pattern of colors and shapes she found interesting but not useful. The green settee invited her to sit upon it’s slick-rough velvet, but it didn’t tell her what to say next. [maybe another thing if it’s not too corny.]

Dr. Palmer waited for an answer.

“Boobs. Butt. All I have left are hands?”

Wow this simple thing is much longer than I’d expected.

437 words on day 986