16 November 2005

Annotated Outline 1-3

There have been few posts here as I have been writing furiously. I'm now over 51,000 words into the story and 75,000 is looking like a realistic goal. I've been updating my chapter outline as I go with summaries of word count and content and want to get it posted here. But I also want to capture Jason's comments on the story as it has been progressing. He has keen insight, good writing talents, and great comments, so I want to capture them all together in context of the outline. I hope that when I start re-writing, I'll be able to use these notes to refine what I've written, even though I'm not really going back during November to make corrections.

Chapter One: Interviews in the Retirement Home. (7148)

  1. Interview (1897)(11/1): Norma Parson's chicken scratch story. Sets the stage regarding Aaron's profession. Deals with the difficulty of telling what parts of oral history are dependable and what it is difficult to validate. Establishes introduction of Mad Aunt Hattie and how you "can't believe what she says."
    Jason said... "caret" and "nonegenarian". I'd nit-pick a few commas and such as well, but a nice start!

  2. Poker (2909) (11/1): Setting up the interview and discussing the job with Jack. Introduces Mad Aunt Hattie and her own quirky view of herself. Establishes mentor relationship with Jack. Sets up use of cell phone in Aaron's business. I need to elevate Jack's position a bit as both friend and mentor to Aaron. First of all, the weekly poker game needs to be more than a bunch of old guys playing cards and shooting the bull. These guys need to be savvy businessmen and civil servants who use the game as much for their own agendas as for recreation.
    jason said... "She was like a mother to him. In fact, more real than his biological mother who died when he was a preteen."
    "Preteen" in this sentence bothers me. Since the perspective of the story is so centered on Aaron, a lot of the narrative reads like Aaron's thoughts. I can only assume that's intentional. Thus, this particular sentence just doesn't sound right. Aaron would never think something like "she died when I was a preteen." He'd think "she died when I was eleven," or something like that. I just can't imagine the age not being very specific to him.
    Also, you're missing an "f" in "I pulled a shirt of a rack and looked up..."

  3. Mad Aunt Hattie (2342) (11/2): First Mad Aunt Hattie interview. Introduces the concept of her guardian angel and how utterly charming Hattie is.
    jason said... "Funny how you could see the future, or the past, if you learned how to really look at someone." This line makes me suspect that Hattie is going to turn out to be the missing girl, somehow, through a time travel twist or somesuch. The fact that the missing girl was last seen when she was 9 and that Hattie was 9 when she fell in the stream only re-enforces that. Don't know if that's what you want me thinking, but there it is.
    Nathan Everett said... I think it's more along the lines of parallel structure. There might be a clue to the identity of the 9-year-old, but I don't think there is a real connection. Interesting idea though.

Chapter Two: Meet the players. (5493)

  1. Battleground (1516) (11/2): I think there will probably need to be a scene that gets closer to the kind of coalition that exists among the industries along the lakeshore. The harbormaster is not the one calling the shots in terms of his disagreement with Pol, but is receiving motivation from the steel mills and oil refineries that stretch from Michigan City to Chicago. Maybe Nina’s boyfriend is working with them.
    jason said... "Neighbor fought neighbor over whether to switch to daylight savings time or to stay on real time." In one of those little known but true facts, it's actually called "daylight saving" time, in the singular. And personally, I'd have fought on the side of the traditionalists in that one...
    jason said... Couple more thoughts:
    1. I'm not clear on who the two sides were in the "battle of burns ditch". I can infer that the other side was environmentalists, but that's not clear, and back in 1960, well, that inference may not be right.

    2. "I don’t want anything we’re doing to come anywhere near that witch. She’s been sniffing around our butts like a dog as it is." Go ahead and call her a bitch. "Witch" in this context, smacks of over-dubbed dialogue in movies that have been shown on TV, where you can't miss the swear words they've tried to hide, and where they're not fooling anybody. Also, "bitch" resonates better in a double-meaning sort of way with the "sniffing like a dog" line.

    Nathan Everett said... Yeah. I figured out the Daylight Saving Time, too. Old habits die hard when everyone who says it says it wrong.
    I fixed the bitch.
    I'll have to make the thing about the forces who were trying to turn the whole area into a National Park a little clearer. It was definitely one of the wierder environmental battles that we've seen in this country. Roughly equivalent to cutting old growth forests in the Northwest.

  2. The Congresswoman (1168) (11/2): Establish that Pol is a congresswoman and is assembling a campaign staff. Concern about Port of Indiana.

  3. Uncle Alex (906) (11/3): Introduce Alex as an advisor who calls her back to Indiana for a meeting. Pol is called for a meeting. She will be running for Governor.
    jason said... This is getting interesting. I like the way you have three main things going on, and as yet no suggestion of how they tie together. That certainly builds my curiosity!

  4. Chief of Staff (1903) (11/3): We need to see Nina interacting with her staff. Pol is a US Representative. That opens up the scenery a little bit, too, with Nina coordinating offices both in Washington DC and in Indiana. Nina is attempting to hire an old boyfriend/classmate as the new press manager for Pol. There is some interest that she might rekindle the romance, but also that she is interested in having him "report to her." She has some real power issues. Follow Nina's story a little more closely to find out she is a Political Science graduate from Purdue University. Her goal is to become chief of staff to the President of the United States. She is counting on Pol to get her there, or close enough to it that she can jump to a winning candidate. She is a classic king-maker. She wants the power, but not the position.
    jason said... Ok, I'm a bit confused. In 2A, the implication is that Marvin was going to be the one to get the bill moved to Commerce. But here Marvin is saying--with some apparent sincerity--that it wasn't him. Was it Brian? Now I'm not clear on what Brian's function in 2A was supposed to be. Who really got the bill moved? Is Marvin now just lying to Nina?
    Nathan Everett said... Yeah. This surprised the heck out of me, too! All I can say is "hang in there." It really does have meaning and is integral to the main string in the story.

Chapter Three: Taking Care of Business (6476)

  1. Research (2983) (11/4): Open with some resolution regarding the missing girl. Play out the first scene with her. Show Aaron at work as an investigative researcher. This is why they pay him dollars to do the research.
    jason said... Don't mention "Bluetooth", specifically. It is enough to say "Wireless earpiece". Bluetooth will, probably sooner than you think, sound dated. I remember when I read "Twistor" (the sci-fi novel penned by UW physics prof John Cramer), that he made liberal reference to what was, at the time, the going network for e-mail and file sharing: BITNet. You remember BITNet? Hardly anyone does, and in fact, by the time his novel was published, the Internet had taken hold and was clearly the preferable and superior alternative. His novel was dated before most people even read it. He included an author's note to the effect that he suspected "BITNet" wouldn't last, and that readers should take it as a placeholder for whatever the network of the future turned out to be. Fine, but why use the word if you know it's going to be wrong? Why didn't he just refer to the network generically, and let the reader fill in the specifics? I can only speculate on that, but what remains with me to this day is the object lesson on being as non-specific as possible when it comes to naming technologies.
    Nathan Everett said... Yes, I agree. No specific names on technology. This story takes place today, or essentially it starts in January 2006, but it still doesn't need to tout today's technology any more than I'm trying to invent future tech. Good point.

  2. Guardian Angel (2531) (11/5): Mad Aunt Hattie's story. Introduces the idea that things aren't what they seem. Provides motivation for investigating. Establishes relationship between Aaron and Hattie so that they have grounds to continue meeting together as she progressively reveals more of her story through Aaron's repeated visits.
    jason said... Two comments on this section: one, I feel a little cheated on the missing-daughter plot. It's finished already! It was too easy to be over already. Now that it seems to be wrapped up and it still doesn't seem to be related to the rest of the plot, I'm scratching my head wondering why you bothered to write all that. I'm not sure if it would be an effective solution to simply move the reunion scene to later--just to put more space between Aaron's meeting with Janice and the reunion--but it might help.
    "And one boy stood out in my eyes like a bright start on a dark night."
    I perceive Hattie as a very poetic person, and it seems to me like she would say something a bit more specific, with more poetry, in this analogy. I like the celestial reference, but maybe something like "...like Venus on a dark night" might work better. Of course, Venus is a female figure, so maybe Mars, except Mars is a martial figure, so maybe Jupiter (which can be very very bright indeed when it is at opposition), although now that's sounding a little forced. I don't know. But there has to be some start or planetary reference that would work here. After all, people who grew up in the roaring 20s had much more exposure to the glories of the night sky than we with our light pollution do. The stars and planets should have figured larger in their mental landscapes than they do in ours.
    Nathan Everett said... Good. When they come back into the story, you'll be surprised!

  3. Accident (968) (11/6): Aaron's investigation following Hattie's instructions and accident when lightning flashes. Creates the cliff-hanger for turning to the next chapter.
    jason said... "He labeled the cassette from his recorder and filed it in the row of interviews."
    I thought he had a digital recorder? Shouldn't he be copying a file to his laptop instead or something like that?
    "strike the bonnet of the car"
    Is Aaron British all of a sudden? Or is "bonnet" (vs. "hood) an Indiana-ism that I'm unaware of?
    Also, how does a (presumably vertical, as you haven't told us otherwise) telephone pole rip the top off of a car?
    Nathan Everett said... Okay. Needs some better descriptive words. I thought this section was going a little fast. Yes, audio file should be copied onto laptop. In fact, he's coming back to the laptop in chapter five and I don't want a bunch of labeled cassettes in his briefcase for reasons that will become obvious later on. Bonnet?? LOL!!! I couldn't remember the word "hood" while I was writing believe it or not!
    Having been in exactly this auto accident a number of years ago, when the car slides down an embankment, even with the forward momentum, it tips. The car is almost at a 90 degree angle when it encounters the pole which is why Aaron is climbing out over the passenger door. Obviously, I need to rework this description. It was so familiar to me that I didn't bother to describe it adequately for you.