Three good things, surprise Thursday edition

Posted on July 23, 2015 by

photo by Kelly Robson

photo by Kelly Robson

Tomorrow I have another author interview coming up on the site, this one with David B. Coe, who has a book out this week and will tell you all about it tomorrow! So today I am having an early go at the three great things posts I’ve been (somewhat) getting up on Fridays, to celebrate the random and not-so-random sources of joy in my week.

What’s tricky about this is that I’ve already bibbled a bit about the awesome run to the African Lion Safari and Niagara Falls, and getting to reconnect with dear friends in the process.

What else happened? Here’s three things:

One: Lovely people have been offering up bouquets of support for various projects. A relative texted me this morning, just to let me know he’d pre-ordered A Daughter of No Nation, for example, and a couple of friends are reading the third book in the trilogy, The Nature of a Pirate, to let me know if the plot cogs in the mystery are 1) sufficiently mysterious; and yet 2) not overly opaque. One of them mentioned diving into a second read a week later, which is above and beyond the call and much appreciated; the other wrote me out of the blue to quietly hint he’d love a shot at the unpolished manuscript, even though it’s been taking me a hundred years per page to read his current novel. The last couple of rounds of notes-from-editors on some of my upcoming stories have been insightful, too. Good readers make the sausage tastier.

People are wonderful, in other words, and I am incredibly blessed.

Two: As I was teaching this week, I came up with the following analogy, which I think holds up even without the conversation that sprung it, and which I can probably turn into a whole essay at some point.

Making up POV as you go is as valid as any kind of pantsing, but at some point you will have to decide who’s telling your story. Once you do, you’ll know how the narrative voice will handle your various characters’ names. Once you know that, you can clearly establish how each character generally refers to the others, and be consistent from there.

Imagine being a professional driver of some (improbably) generic stripe. Imagine that each morning you get up, go to a parking lot, and get to choose between driving an ambulance, schoolbus, limousine, hearse, taxicab, an armored car, a catering truck… you name it. The thing you do with your day is, arguably, more or less identical: you’re operating a motor vehicle. But which of the vehicles you choose–an apparently simple and innocuous decision–is going to determine whether you’re spending the day surrounded by preschoolers or rushing to the scene of an accident.

In all of the above cases, weaving all over the road is unprofessional. But choosing a vehicle at random and then trying to figure out if you’re transporting a coffin or picking up Robert DeNiro at the airport… one could argue that it’s a bit outlandish.

Figuring out which POV you’re going to use to drive the story isn’t innocuous. Don’t underrate it.

Three: My good friend and teaching guru Linda Carson teaches a color course at Waterloo University, which means among other things that she has one of the coolest boards on Pinterest. She asked me to do her an Instagram favor this week, and a side effect of that was that I found out about this. Human ingenuity in the pursuit of cool beauty makes me happy. I expect this will make you happy too.

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