Category Archives: plot

author’s note

well, i’m now on the last chapter.  judy’s on death row, and everybody else (that’s left) are getting on with their lives.  it’s all epilogue from here.

i’ve had some trouble the last few days, winding it all up.  when i was dealing with the trial, i wasn’t sure how to arrange it, what tone to take in certain parts.  i ended up putting it all in a short little outline, filling it all out, and then rearranging the parts until it read smoothly.

like i reversed the order of mom’s and allen’s testimony, and took judy’s point of view out of the whole trial.  and then i summed up the other charges in third person omniscient.

but now i’ve just got to fill out stuff that’s already been written, mainly.

except yesterday i came across this very moving radio podcast interview given by a woman who was to die several weeks later of cancer.  and it was all about death and living and dying, and her point was that when the joy goes out of life you might as well be dead.  and i was so moved by it that i took her attitude straight to judy and wrote her musings as she waits for her execution.

so, that was good.

i’ve got lots of little bits sitting at the end of my document; stuff i’d cut and pasted into the back of the story because it was too good to throw out immediately and not appropriate for where i had written it originally.

and i may or may not put it in.  but since i’m at the very end, it may well get left out.

and then it’s on to the second draft.

except i’m going to spend the rest of my nanowrimo time (half a month) working on my memoirs, which i won’t be posting.  just so you know.


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author’s note

i wrote a bunch today, but haven’t published because i’m in the middle of writing it.

as i was lying in bed this morning, i thought about how what the survivors would have to say would then be parlayed into a courtroom scene, so it seemed i might as well cut to the courtroom scene instead of continuing to describe what was happening.

i don’t seem to be all that comfortable inside the characters’ heads.  i’m going to have to do more of that in the rewrite.

so when i got to the computer this morning, i laid it out.  laurie.  cindy.  gordon.  then underneath these i put allen.  mom.  judy. for each death.  and then i went and found earlier plot notes about what has to happen next, and divided them up into their respective dead people and put them underneath the sadly departed’s names.  and then i sat allen and mom on the stand and wrote down what they had to say about the defendant’s relationship with the deceased, and how  the lawyer twisted it – or just let them run on because both mom and allen would hang themselves on the stand, never mind helping to hang judy.

and that’s where i left it.  they haven’t gotten around to rick yet.  or bill.  or the serial killings.  or the attempted murder of a strip club full of chocolate-loving dancers and shot-up customers.  that’ll take a few days to get to.

tomorrow i’ll be filling out the testimony and arranging it the way a court would handle it.

but i’m stuck there, because i don’t know how a court would handle it.  for some reason, tho i’ve been called to jury duty once a year for the past ten, i never get picked, so i don’t know how they would handle calling the witnesses for a multiple murder trial.  just once and run them thru all the dead?  or call them for every body?  let me just look it up…

okay, witnesses are only recalled to contradict earlier testimony, so it’s get the guy on the stand, run thru all the deaths, and then excuse him.  that’s going to be overwhelming.

allen has to answer questions about rick, gordon, laurie, and what he saw when judy shot laurie and electrocuted gordon and poisoned cindy.

and mom has to pronounce judgment on judy’s enmity toward her siblings, as well as confirm that she watched her own daughter shoot laurie.

how can i break that up?  does judy testify?  does she comment mentally?  do i sum things up from her viewpoint?

maybe i should leave it broken up this way, into testimony excerpts as if collecting the good bits.

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author’s note

well, i’ve just killed off most of my family.  and it feels accomplished, but not good.  necessary, but not satisfying.  i don’t hate my family, after all.  they’re all fucked up, and have caused me endless trouble, but so what?  i still love them.  they’re my family.  and i’m just like them.

but this means that i’m at the end of my story.  and that’s the problem.

until now the story has pretty much written itself.  and will continue to do so, i suppose.  things tend to do that when you watch them closely.

it’s not that a watched pot never boils.  it’s just that if you’re watching the water heating up, then you can’t say exactly when it starts to boil.  it seems as if it’s almost boiling but not quite for the longest time, even tho the candy thermometer says 212.

i’ve just killed off laurie, and cindy, and gordon.  it was too challenging to figure it out intellectually, so i just sat there and visualized the scene (thus the game of statues) and then figured out what was going thru each character’s head and what they were going to do next.

but i was undecided how to proceed, and so ended up photoshopping a whole bunch of pictures of jim’s nudes for a show he wants to apply for.  and that took all day.  so i thought about what i wanted to do instead.

whose point of view should i write the next part with?  i figured judy, of course, since she’s the one who is most impacted, but on a dog walk, jim suggested that i write what happens next from everybody’s point of view.

that’s just mom, allen, and judy.  sam and dave have already split, everybody else is freshly dead, and the ambulance and police haven’t arrived.

i can write it that way.

there’s judy, holding the gun, standing in the middle of the back yard surrounded by bodies. there’s allen, faced with another crazy woman with the power to hurt him.  there’s mom, most of her children dead, and nobody’s told her about rick yet.

sitting here thinking about it, i’ve got a couple of inconsistencies i’m going to have to deal with in the seond draft, like why mom doesn’t know rick is dead yet.  it’s only the day after, i’m pretty sure, but someone should have called her.  who calls the non-immediate family in a case like that?  and how long would alice have to wait before starting proceedings to get her kids back?  maybe it’s alice’s responsibility to notify everybody else and the cops only mention it, or maybe the ambulance crew, without knowing rick is mom’s kid.

anyway.  after i’m done taking the bodies away and arresting judy, i’ve got to wind everything up, with the investigations and the trial and then however this tale ends up being written (and by whom) – i haven’t figured any of that out, really.  just shadowy hints.

but all i have to do is sit down and visualize the scene, and they’ll show me what happens next.  they’ll repeat their lines until i memorize them, or at least write them down.

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day 1 of nanowrimo

yessir, it’s november the first, and i spent all day reading a book about memes while waiting not to be selected for a jury panel.  made more money just sitting there than i have in awhile, too.

but i didn’t write anything, and it’s supposed to average 2000 words a day in order to make 50,000.  i have real doubts about my chances this year, but i’ve done nanowrimo for a bunch of years now, and usually manage to pull the words out of my ass somehow.

in the past few months, jim and i have read all the chapters i wrote the last time i worked on this novel, and i’ve had it in the back of my mind what had to happen.  there’s a whole lot of things.

the two cindies are about to assault mom and allen, gordon and laurie are prowling around the house, judy is almost there, sam and dave need to get their asses over to the scene, and pretty much everybody has to die.

this year i have a different set of circumstances under which to write the climax to this novel.  first time was all bare boned.  to get all the way to the climax, i concentrated on just getting the various threads straight.  like setting up a loom.  i left all the embroidery, all the filling-out of the patterns for the second draft.  it reads more like a filmscript than a novel (tho not much like a screenplay at that).  this time, however, i have only a short climax to cover, and 50,000 words to cover it in, and that’s exactly in contrast to the first part.  and i have no idea how to fill that much space at this stage.

i could slow it all down and get as deeply into their heads as possible at this point.  all the thoughts.  all the childhood traumas.  the really deep and true reasons for matricide.

or i could continue my slapstick pace and just get all the bits written down so i can move on.

a few days’ work at most.

hah.  that’s what i say whenever i start a project.  i consistently underestimate by at least twice, and sometimes much more, the time it’s going to take to finish.  like the two dolphins i was commissioned to paint.  i figured i could have it all done in two months, and didn’t it take four.  and what about the third dolphin, which was supposed to take a couple of weeks.  it took a month and a half.  and cleaning the attic for a studio visit.  that was supposed to be done by thursday of that week, and it took almost a full month.

i’m not sure i could write a lot of inner head stuff for these characters at this point.  it sure would be a strange thing to sit here for eight hours a day and drum out.  like jack nicholson in the shining.

anyway, i’m going to read the last chapter i posted, and see where i need to start tomorrow.

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to finish a plot

i’ve just finished reading what i’ve got so far.  there was more, but it got deleted.

when we left off, cindy and tsindee (whatever) were getting ready to face the dragon and the witch.  they confer at the head of the stairs, do more drugs, and merge into one person, who is doubly insane and intent on killing mom.

gordon and laurie were heading to mom’s house to kill her.  gordon had a plan, not sure what laurie was up to.

judy is also heading to mom’s to kill her.

gordon has swiped a lethal device from frank, an electrified welcome mat, and is trying to set it up on mom’s front steps.  but it needs a pool of water so he puts it around the corner under the downspout (it has rained) and plans on luring mom over it.  but judy comes along, recognizes it, doesn’t like seeing it in the water and moves it.

mom and allen defend themselves against the whole cindy.  cindy retreats out into the back yard.

laurie is doing something nefarious in the bushes.  don’t know what just yet.  cindy sees her and gets upset, tries to shoot her.

judy intervenes, her hand on the gun, when it goes off, killing laurie.

the shot brings allen and mom to the door.  gordon pulls his trap, leading mom to where to electrified mat is, but he steps on it instead and fries himself.

cindy turns to face mom, wavers between seeing the witch and seeing mom, finally says something sane, and dies suddenly.

judy gets blamed for all the deaths.

cindy because she’s been poisoned and they can trace the poison back to judy.  they can also make judy an accessory to bill’s death (he was found dismembered in one of his trucks this morning (cindy/czingdy)) and the others attributed to the serial killer.  cindy gets blamed for gordon because it’s frank’s device with judy’s handpainted dust mat.  she gets blamed for laurie because why???  because she had her hand on cindy’s when she pulled the trigger and now has powder on her hand, and when she snatched the gun away she put it in her pocket, ever the packrat.  and how in the world does she get blamed for rick’s death?  poison again?  he ate a chocolate.  several chocolates.  maybe he died of massive poisoning rather than being beaten to death.  she’s charged with all the attempts on mom’s life, the gunshots, the car attacks, the sabotages, even all of frank’s devices are blamed on her.

sam and dave meet mom, who is the only one to get the joke, and they serenade her with a new song every time.  the mercenaries come back, mom is delighted to help them, lets allen ‘run’ the business thru a competent management team (sam and dave, who continue to report to the fbi).   alice and ben get together and visit mom often with the kids.  ben makes a living mashing up security footage.  mom and allen get married.  she holds the purse strings and always has something for him to so, but allen turns out to like mom’s sexual proclivities.  mom prays for judy, who is in jail on death row.

in actuality, mom has gotten her dearest wish with respect to everybody around her.  the results are all things she’s been praying for, in a manner of speaking.

she wished judy would learn her lesson

she wished somebody would rick slap rick upside the head

she wished cindy would…fall down dead with embarrassment (she pissed herself in public)

she wished gordon would…take responsibility for himself (which he never)

she wished bill would…eat shit and die?

she wished laurie would…eat shit and die?

she wished alice would…do something with her life

she wished allen would…be a real man??? (how to define this)

she wished she would…finally get the respect and attention she deserved

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well it’s time to finish this novel

it’s been two years since i worked on this story, and i think it’s high time i got it off the plate.

earlier this year i decided to finish it, primarily because my brother came to stay with me, and the subject came up.

not that the story has anything to do with my family.  none of the characters resemble my brothers and sisters.  just the conflicts, which are universal.  jealousy, greed, fear, hatred.

brotherly love.

i used an archetypal family structure –  two sisters and two brothers in a dysfunctional family – which by the way is a smaller family than mine and leaves out a much more complex dynamic because of that, and picked people i knew in my adult life to blend into different characters.  one from column a and one from column b.  there’s a good book you can use to do that, a handbook of character types of some sort.  it’s upstairs in my reference library.  i didn’t refer to it.  i had the perfect models in my own life, all around me, and i just chose from them.

to the blog.  if you’re just joining me, the actual story can be found by clicking the category ‘story’, and all the other stuff is either research or plotting or author’s musings and progress notes.

there’s a tale in those categories.

between 2009 and about 6 months ago, the machine i had all my work on crashed.  i was away at the time and just shrugged and hoped i had done a thorough backup before leaving.  which i hadn’t.  so i lost all my work, except i’d posted most of it to this blog as i was writing it.

what i lost was my detailed plot outline, my chapter by chapter list of things that had to happen.  like most of my plot outlines, it got pretty vague farther along, and i’m not sure at this point how detailed i actually had it, because all i have is the ‘plot’ category here on this blog, and the ‘author’s note’, and they’re damned vague.  for instance, when i stopped writing, the next bit that was to be written was killing off gordon, cindy and laurie.  and this is just a throwaway mention in an author’s note summing up the day’s work.  nothing more to go on.  how to kill them off was left to later.

in order to figure out what to do, i had to go to my blog and visit each posted chapter and copy and paste them into a new document.  then i printed it out, and now jim and i are reading it aloud.  we’re almost to the end, and i don’t remember half of what i’ve written.

it needs a lot of work.  it’s all just bareboned narrative and dialog.  it’s preachy in spots.  it’s awkward.  there’s a whole lot of information left out of the vision i get when i read what i’ve written.  the second draft is going to be much longer, is what i’m trying to say.

for instance, there’s the whole part about mom and how she is evil that’s mostly left out, except for what she does to frank.  right now you mostly wonder what’s wrong with the grownup kids, and aren’t asking how they got that way.

the next step is to figure out the ending.  we know it ends with judy in jail for the murders of all of her siblings, and mom sailing triumphantly off into the sunset.

but we don’t know how it’s going to get from where i left it to where it needs to go.  and there’s that whole subthing about mom getting her way because of miracles.  i haven’t even touched on that.  it’s too complicated.

but as ever, stories write themselves.  so no matter the written out plot, it’s going to unfold the way the characters act in the moment.  and you can only cooperate with that flow, or you’ll end up with resentful characters.

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author’s note

just in case you think i’ve forgotten, i’m still embroiled in dealing with my ex’s broken neck.  they’ve still got him in hospital after 5 days, and now that it’s monday they’re going to have a look at his heart because he’s showing v-tach, whatever that is.  so i’m still waiting until he gets out of the hospital.

and then i’m going to move him up here and nurse him back to health.  not necessarily because i want to, either.  but that’s another story.  i guess i’ll have more to say about that at my cancer blog, where we talk about life and death things.

i wrote a total of two hours yesterday, after coming home early from the hospital.  but i made progress.  there’s just so much to do.  the only things in this next chapter i haven’t touched are the core things – the deaths of gordon, cindy and laurie.

but i’ll get there.

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