Archive for January, 2010

Tucker: Opening Scene (version 3-ish)

So, sometime last fall I decided to dust Tucker off and take another whack at it. 5 whacks, actually. The results are… not going to be shown here. 3 are incomplete and the 4th is an experiment I was attempting – a hybrid of prose and screenplay formatting. Not pretty. Though I’m not convinced it couldn’t work in a different setting… but I digress.

So, Tucker. Thing wasn’t working so I whined to JB who came back with something to the effect of, “Change your setting for the opening scene. Just because you want it set in the bar doesn’t mean that’s actually where it has to start.” In other words: kill your darlings. Oi.

New setting and POV (and the 5th whack), enter stage left:

Tucker Smith snapped rubber duck yellow latex gloves onto her hands and prepared to do battle. Hands fisted on hips, she surveyed her enemy – a precarious pile of crusted dishes and pots to the left, sink-full of hot soapy water in front of her, gravity defying stack of empty chinese take out containers and pizza boxes to the right above an overflowing trash can. Doable, she decided. With a hazmat suit and a flame thrower.

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Tucker: Opening Scene (version 2)

Headline: September 2008 the DLD* draft of Tucker is DONE. (insert rain of confetti here!)

I was deliriously happy, but under no illusions as to the worthiness of my newly finished product. Almost immediately I began the beta draft for Tucker. Now any chef worth his santoku knows when you pull a steak off the grill, you set it aside for a few minutes to “rest”; it needs that chance for all the juices to get back to where they belong so that the steak doesn’t become a dried out lump of cow.

I should have followed this same path for Tucker. I got stuck, right off the bat, confused about how I wanted to fix the mess up front. As a result I wandered away to chase around the first shiny new story idea that caught my attention.

Here is the opening scene on that abandoned beta draft:

It wasn’t everyday a man found out he was cursed with a devastating weakness for a woman who smelled like beer and cinnamon.

Up to now he’d kept her at a necessary distance, a professional distance. For three months he’d been her shadow and she hadn’t made his tail. He was very good at what he did; it wasn’t by accident he could demand ludicrously high compensation for what boiled down to borderline illegally detailed back ground checks and discreet photo editorial surveillance.

But that had changed when he’d decided to play the hero, wandered into her gin joint and bellied up to the bar where he was now nursing an iced tea and trying to find the right moment to approach her.

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Tucker: Opening Scene (version 1)

Here is the opening scene of the finished draft. I counted 8 other partial drafts, false starts on the road to revising this turkey Tucker.

So without further ado:

“Well, aren’t you just all shiny and new?”

Josh looked up from his iced tea and over his left shoulder, the direction the low smoke scarred voice had come from. It belonged to a heavily made up blonde who wiggled on to the stool next to him. Bottle platinum hair and too tight clothes didn’t effectively disguise the hard edges and tired eyes. Josh thought someone should send a snapshot of this woman to Brittany Spears with the inscription, “Stop now! You still have time!”

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Revision: Week Two

Yeah, yeah. I never posted about Week One.

Sue me.

Week One: reacquaint yourself with your ms. Get sticky notes or index cards or the office supply of your choice and break down your ms scene by scene. Let me tell you – easier said than done. My ms is a MESS. Also pretty much the whole thing has to be chucked because I’ve swapped out the east coast for the west coast and back story and front story. Tucker as it stands is the baby and boy howdy is she going out with the bathwater.

And this is a good thing.

Tucker is the very first thing I finished, but it is by no means the best thing I’ve written. In fact it’s really hard to read through it over the sound of my teeth gnashing in agony: “OMG did I really write that?? Really?”

But I had an epiphany during Monday’s class.

Week Two: get Jillian on your opening scene. Make it sweat, make it cry, make it puke but shed every unnecessary pound. That wasn’t the epiphany, by the way. The epiphany came while Lani was using Happy Gilmore to illustrate her concept of structure and she said: give your protagonist a positive goal. Happy needs money to save his grandma’s house from foreclosure. Positive goal.

Ok, I like totally know this isn’t news to the bulk of writers out there, and I myself have heard it tons of times. I honestly believed that Tucker, in fact, had a positive goal. I was sooooo wrong. Having just reread the thing (hello Week One homework!) it finally kicked me in the head that Tucker’s goal was far from positive and every action she takes is reactive rather than proactive. And in the time it took me to frantically write the notes long hand I had the skeleton of the first two scenes and the answer to Tucker’s broken plot.

So worth the price of admission.

As I said in an earlier post, I intend to put my money where my mouth is. I have 7 (yes SEVEN) opening scenes accumulated over the last year and half, give or take, for Tucker as I struggled to find the right word combination to unlock this !@#$%& story. And apparently the answer all along was an Adam Sandler movie and “Mercury [being] quincunx Mars retrograde in Leo on Monday“. Who knew?

So, stick around and watch the horror show. With any luck, by the time I get to the epiphany version y’all won’t have gouged out your eyes and can appreciate the true genius of words which I have yet to write. They’re due on Monday.



Wow! The dashboard stats tell me that 8 – count ’em 8! – whole people who are not me visited my blog yesterday. An unprecedented event, to be very sure.

“Hi there,” she said, smiling shyly.

I guess that means I need to start posting with more frequency and relevance and interesting… stuff. Not today, though. Today I have to separate, collate and stuff 70-odd W-2s and then populate my exciting new COBRA administration software so as to not catapult my very generous employer into bankruptcy by missing a federally mandated deadline. I know, I know – try to contain your excitement.

I actually plan to start putting up the many first scenes of Tucker, put my money where my mouth is so to speak. More on that later. But for now I leave you with an essay on boredom from the NY Times Book review.



Sunday night. 10:13 pm. I have not finished my homework for Revision Class tomorrow.

But at least I’ve turned off the TV.

Found a new blog over the weekend: Query Shark. It’s OMG amazing. Part of me wants to get to work right away so I can have a finished ms to query the shark about and be one of the two (three?) she’s approved first time out and asks for pages IMMEDIATELY.

Delusions of granduer much?

But the part of me that’s been sitting around watching the remainder of NCIS season 3 all day (but folding laundry – I’ve had some productivity here!) and dropping in season 2 from the start for giggles is terrified to finish what I’ve started because… what if it’s never good enough?

Oh well. I paid good, cash money for this class and so far SO worth it. Looks like I’m up late tonight cramming for class tomorrow.

And here I thought I’d left jr high, high school, and college behind.


lolcat du jour

Ok, see the reason this is FUNNY is because I’m a Planet Earth/Blue Planet junkie and Mr. Attenborough is the esteemed narrator for the bulk of the series.