clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hot Writing, Right Off the Stove

At left, a woodstove. I have a Swedish model that is super efficient and is constructed quite a bit differently from the one pictured which I borrowed from wikicommons.

Mine would be right at home in a small ski chalet, which means it is almost completely out of place in my present abode. It's one of the last things to overhaul in our remodel of the lovely home we have.  We'll replace it with a guillotine door model of an updated Swedish design. The one we picked looks like a woodstove from 2001: A Space Odyssey.  I know: doesn't make any sense but you can appreciate the design aesthetic.

The blower motor for my geothermal heating plant has gone out. Turns out, it needs to come from the factory and even that is in doubt. I'll be without heat for a few days at least. Thus, the woodstove becomes primary system during a spell where tomorrow it will be eleven below zero, Fahrenheit.  Not ideal, but that's it.

It'll be a test of the design. Right now it is twelve above outside while we have another unseasonably cool spell. Toasty in here now. Will have to keep the fire going to keep that effect.

I have a loft which will remain nearly tropical with the fire going. A ceiling fan (I have a 30' cupola so have to move the air) and the woodstove will heat the pubic areas. Thank Dog for open floor plans and engineered lumber.

Fire in morning, at lunch when I come home to walk Louis, and evening. A couple alarms at night and all should be fine.

Yes. It's a practical thermodynamic challenge and for an engineer, that's fun. Sorry writers, I solve problems. Sometimes I even solve my own.

I am tired from cutting a nearly a cord of wood tonight. Took three hours. I'm getting slow in the cold.

So, Problem Solving.

Valerie Laken taught me the trick last spring of never leaving my characters alone. ( Valerie )

I have a story in which I want the protagonist to overhear a disagreement between his aunt and his sometime mother. I was struggling just a little on how to do this since the character is supposed to be translating Caesar's Commentaries during the fight.

Easy. Thanks to Valerie, I rearrange the domestic arrangement and have one of the secondary characters stay in the same small room. It really doesn't need to be explained as we know the secondary is a half-orphan (mother dead) and the protagonist is a practical stray (farmed out from divorced parents). Both boys are shipped to the Way West so as to get in less trouble than they would in the summer untended at "home."  So, a little authorial magic and I have someone in the room for the protagonist to talk with in order to portray what I desire portrayed.

Thanks Valerie.

Don't leave the protagonist alone. Period. It really helps the "show don't tell" to have someone there for reasonable dialogue rather than that ghastly interior monologue I so despise. I hate the voice-over as if it's a C-grade science fiction movie.

Don't get me started on the soliloquy of "mommy found your red shoe" from Gravity. I was rooting for the space debris. Let's just get that clear.

So, solution to a lot of problems: put someone else in scene. Makes it interesting to have characters able to talk. It's still interesting if they have someone to talk to, and don't.

Buddy up.

Now, writing. I have a scene to outline. I've got someone else in it now to talk to, so I will.

Sing a chorus of "put another log on the fire" for me tonight. Do it while you're writing.

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