clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Sunday, January 4, 2015


There is no picture today. You've all seen cat pictures.

My wife has two cats which is to say, she has two cats whose main duty in life is to be where I am in the house.

I don't like cats. I don't hunt them down and feed them to rabid dobermans; but, I prefer dogs. I'm not a cat person. Thus, the cats like me best.

My dog's name for my wife is "favorite person." When I enter a room where he is stretched out on his ottoman (my dog has his own furniture by default) he wags a lazy tail. When mom enters the room, he dismounts and follows her to her destination.

I call this phenomenon "crossed pets." When your pet likes your partner better, you have a "crossed pet" relationship.

When you write the antagonist in more sympathetic tones than the protagonist, you're also crossing your pets. You can like the antagonist better than the protagonist. The reader had better not.

My antagonists often turn out to be much better characters than my protagonists. They tend to be better rendered on the page, have stronger personalities, and because my default is for the protagonist to react to the actions of the antagonist, they tend to be more direct in action.

I'm balancing my roles through voice. I'm hoping that a closely voiced point-of-view puts the reader in much closer emotional association with protagonist. Unfortunately, I can't write first drafts in this fashion because my hero becomes quippy or snarky, depending.

I blame all those action flicks in the 80's.

So, I tell the story, discover the characters to be something other than who I believed them to be at the start, find the plot turns too intricate for anyone without a dissertation in the geometries of imaginary surfaces under their belt, and move on.

Second drafts fix a lot of things. Sometimes they even cure crossed pet disorder.

I have to go now. A cat just jumped into my lap and its tail is twitching across my face.

At least the dog has moved into the library with me this afternoon. That's progress.

I have to clean cat hair out of my pen's nib too frequently around here.

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