September 09, 2001

an exercise

I've been reading a book on writing, The First Five Pages, by Noah Lukeman.
I don't generally write fiction, which is what he's concentrated on, but he has
had some useful things to say about presentation, writing style, and so on.

In the middle of his chapter on dialog, I realized I have absolutely no idea how
to do that, no idea whatsoever on how to tell a story and makes the characters
real. (Maybe that's why I don't write fiction, eh?) So just as a writing exercise,
here is my day so far, in fictionalized format.

Dichroic and Rudder were having a hard time fighting off the Bed Magnet, on
a sleepy Sunday morning when they had no real plans to pull them out of bed and
into their day. He rolled over, put an arm around her, and muttered, "So are we
going to get up and take turns rowing the single?"

She opened one eye, decided the effort was too great, closed it again. "I
can't get excited about sitting on the beach, waiting an hour while you row, and
then getting into a boat I've been rowing a lot lately anyway."

"I know what you mean," he said. "Anyway, if I'll be racing in the double
with Ringer, I don't really need to row the single. But what else can we do

She enumerated possibilities, "We could go to the Art Museum. We could go
hike up Four Peaks -- it should be cool enough there. We could do the sprinkler
system. We could just stay in bed all day and not do anything."

He nuzzled closer into her neck. "And have lots of sex?" he asked


They stayed entwined and horizontal for a few more minutes, enjoying the
chance to do nothing for awhile. Eventually, he swung up to a sitting position and
said, in a wheedling tone, "We have all day for that, but we should probably put
in the sprinkler system before it gets too hot. Want to learn to glue pipes

"Not really," she answered. "But I guess I will." She followed him out of
bed, brushed her teeth, pulled on some clothes loose enough to be cool in the
desert heat she expected, and found him out on the back porch.

"Hey...this is nice!" she exclaimed, surprised at the temperature of the
September breeze on her face. "It's almost cool out!"

"Yup," he answered. "Nice. Can you come over here and dig out the pipe
coming from over there? The small hand shovel should work well for that."

The morning rapidly grew to seem less cool as she worked until finally she
reached two pipes buried eight inches down, complaining at the sandy soil that
slid back in the hole almost as fast as she dug it out.

"That's deep enough," he said. "Just widen it a bit and see if you can pull
out that black pipe -- it's pretty flexible."

She did as directed, then looked over to see that he'd finished half of the
ten-foot trench they needed to lay the pipe for the sprinklers.

He transferred the shovel from one gloved hand to the other and used a
forearm to wipe sweat from his forehead. "Come over here and I'll show you how to
glue joints in the piping. You'll be amazed at how fast this goes. See, we need to
go from this faucet down, then along the ground to the trench and over to the new
controller. Don't worry, though -- it's not rocket science."

That last was a standing joke between them, as they had both formerly worked
on NASA projects. She absorbed his directions, nodded, then began work. As she
expected, the project did not go "amazingly fast". It went smoothly, though, and
they were done in an hour or so, with only one or two tiny leaks that they left to
fix another day, as the late-summer heat was starting to build in the desert

They cleaned up their tools, and went inside companionably, deciding to skip
breakfast and go straight to tuna sandwiches for lunch. She made the sandwiches,
turning at the sound of frantic miauling to give a bit of tuna to the cats, who
had, as usual, magically appeared as soon as she opened the cans of fish.

After lunch, she went over to the computer and began work on her daily
journal entry.

Hmm. That was a little easier than I expected. Now if only fiction didn't also
require all those hard things like plot and characterization....

PS. I still don't believe in this stuff, but this one is very near: a description
based on my name. The only thing they
got wrong is that I am quite happy to let others do their own work -- even if I
have to do some fixing afterwards. I want stuff to be done right, but I'd rather
let other people do as much of it as possible.

As Paula you seek change, travel, new opportunities, and new challenges. Your
active, restless nature demands action and you dislike system and monotony. As you
are versatile and capable, you could do any job well, although you would not like
to do menial tasks. Having considerable vision, you could be adept at formulating
new, more effective ways of doing things. You could organize the work of others,
though in your impatience to see the job done efficiently, you would likely step
right in and do it yourself. You could work well in sales and promotion, and would
not be afraid to risk a gamble as the name gives you much self-confidence. You do
not find contentment in the routine tasks and responsibilities that are associated
with home and family or with administrative detail in the business world, so you
have to guard against frustration and even moods of depression over your personal
responsibilities. The restlessness this name creates could find an outlet in
caustic, irritable expression. Also, the intensity of your nature could result in
tension in the solar plexus causing stomach trouble and, because you take your
responsibilities seriously you could experience much worry.

Posted by dichroic at September 9, 2001 04:59 PM
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