Tag Archives: nancy drew

Done!

I like that word. Done. When you say it it is a puff of air, it is hard, singular and finite. 

I am done with a synopsis [well, almost, awaiting a critique on that one] a query letter [one more critique and it will be] and the novel itself. Weighing in at 54768 words. A lot! True not a 90,000 word great american novel.

I have lost count on the number of revisions to this story. It began as a short story with adults in the main character roles. And I liked it, sent it to Ellery Queen for a contest and got nothing back. Which was okay. I didn’t really expect anything. It was really my first attempt at working a story after thirty years of writing abstracts of articles, job descriptions, policy papers, work procedures, how-to’s for managers and supervisors, newsletter and employee handbooks. It was a challenge to add in more words, to describe a room, or to see a scene through the eyes of a character and it started me on this path, this one that I am on now.

It took me a while to understand that writing for adults, while hard~ please do not get me wrong~ was just not the same thing as writing for a kid. And then it took me longer to understand writing for children today. The stories I read as a kid, mostly were either historical fiction where the event was the pivot point, or mysteries where the murder/theft/crime was the pivot point. I mean, consider the girl detective of the post war period. She was clever, confident. You knew somewhere along the story she was going to be in jeopardy, but you also knew she was going to get out of it.

There were the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Cherry Ames, and the one lone boy, Encyclopedia Brown. No, I take that back, there were the Hardy Boys. They were always more about the mystery than the kid!  And I loved that. It’s not that I didn’t care about Nancy and her cousins Bess and George, it’s that their lives really did not intrude on the story. They were somewhat independent even though Nancy was when I was reading them, rather young for the responsibilities and opportunities she had to go off on her own. I think too, I always liked that George was a girl!  I was less interested in their lives and more interested in how in a small town like River Heights there could be so many crimes. [I find I have the same problem today with series that are outside major cities, that involve so many murders.]

I digress. Done! The story, the action, the mystery and how it unfolds has been less of an issue for me than the internal story. When I was first asked to describe the emotional journey of the character I immediately thought of my best Sarah Berhardt imitation~ flat of the hand across the brow, a slight sinking of the knees and a huge sigh. It took me a long time to grasp the need for children to connect with a character before they connect with the story. At least that is one of the ways I see it.

We are ruled in our social media by emotions. Do I like? Why is there no don’t like on Facebook? We use pictures~ jpegs., gifs, memes~ to describe what we are dubious about putting into words in places that almost require, nay, demand, the quick short cut. So while we are describing our emotion, it is nothing unique! nothing original. When I use a smily face with stars  in it’s eyes, do I mean it the same way that some one else does? Okay not a lot to worry about, because most of us do not spend that much thought on others thoughts.

But in a book, short cuts do not work for emotions, or better stated, they shouldn’t work for emotions. For a child to read the story and get what the writer means, it should be clear, upfront and a goal sought after through the whole book.

Upteenth revision later, I think I am as close as I can get by myself. When the synopsis critique comes through. When the second query critique comes through, I think I am ready to submit. Not that I did not submit before, I did. I tried and no, nothing. But this time, I think I have a best hook. I think the writing is the clearest and cleanest and most soundly representative of the main character I can come up with. Ha! We shall see.

In truth, tho, Done only means one thing.  there is another story to work on!

Growth

I’ve been watching the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries series. I’ve enjoyed them. It’s been fun. There’s daring do. The clothes. The sets. The cars. There’s romance. But the bottom line is I won’t rally for a season four now that she’s kissed Jack as she goes flying off with her Father to England to return him to Mother.

Why not? After season 1, I continued to watch, but not with my whole brain. Phryne, charming and outré as can be, just is. She is a woman of mid-forties. She is a force of nature, with money and skills that come from a free-wheeling and colorful life, sometimes because of the wealth, sometime because it was scrabble. It’s interesting, but Phryne is not about to change. Continue reading

Problems with Outlining

I’ve recently attended several programs that include the writing issue of plotting and structure. Yea! I like that, because I am basically a plot kinda person.  Almost more than the character, although the characters have always mattered, because, after all who is it that gets you into the story?old clock

The quintessential book of my childhood was Nancy Drew. There she was, with her own car! and friends, a parent who was indulgent and just enough older than me to be fascinating. So, THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK, right? It think I still have my copy. I meanold clock, no I was never really interested in old clocks, but I will always be interested in mysteries. And, while the picture of Nancy, in the middle of a rather eerie looking forest, was somewhat intriguing, what I really wanted to know was why. Not the who. I knew the main character would solve the puzzle, and I wanted to know how she’d do that. So, plot. The action that moves the story along.

And, that’s where I am now. I definitely know who, I’ve got my main character. I’ve done the profiling thing, what she eats for breakfast, how she mows the lawn. I know how this thing ends, I’ve got the voice, at least my critique groups thinks I do. And I know the major steps. It’s the middle.Sheeze, isn’t it always the middle.

In doubles tennis we say, down the middle solves the riddle. That means you’re putting the shot where the other team can’t reach it. But this middle is different. Not tennis.  I’m at that part where I’ve chased my character up a tree, and I know how she’s going to get down, I just have to work on what happens to her as she climbs up higher. And what rocks I’m going to throw at her while she climbs.

Ha! Off to make rocks.