Synopsis of a good book, titled Revision, by David Michael Kaplan.

The steps of revision:

  • Revise before you write: make guesstimates of your plot, find out what it is that's valuable, and try to find ways to revise your ideas of plot based on where you think you're going to go. I.e., don't just start writing with your first idea.

  • Revise while writing your first draft: first drafts don't have to be in any particular order (unless you're posting as you write). Think of a scene you missed? Write it, add notes as to where it should go, move on. Can't figure out how to write a scene? Skip it. Make whatever notes you think you'll need and go on. Don't feel guilty about it. Change your mind about adding or removing a character, etc.? Just do it, and don't worry about how you're going to add or remove the character--just write as if it had always been done. Don't back up and rewrite. Revising means changing your vision of the story. Rewriting means a waste of time during the first draft.

Now you've written your first draft.

  • Revise for meaning: decide what it is that your story's about. Is it about love? Is it about fathers? Is it about aliens with cucumbers being driven into the universe by their cruel masters? The first thing you should do is decide what's important.

  • Revise for a weak opening: Delayed openings, overly detailed/repetitious openings, unnecessary history/background openings, and unnecessary flashbacks.

  • Cut what's not essential: philosophic ramble, repetitions, tangents, useless amplifications, dreams, stagey dialogue (the kind where the dialogue tells you an unnatural amount of backstory), unnecessary characters and events.

  • Add what's essential. Something's missing when: characters don't talk or talk indirectly, characters don't do anything, ghost characters (characters not described), scenes in limbo (scenes not described), characters without thoughts, missing crucial scenes (or crucial scenes described indirectly), "tell" scenes that need to be "show" scenes, full scenes used for things that could be done as transition or bridge scenes.

  • Rearranging plot: check for scenes that are chronologically out of order, psychologically out of order (make sure the character really would feel A before doing B), dramatically out of order (generally moving the most important items to the end of the series to build tension), putting complex dramatic shifts into a clear order, elements that are out of order in terms of meaning (an old flame that appears when a couple is having doubts, rather than an old flame that appears after everything is resolved).

  • Revising endings: Make your endings "unexpected, but believable." Don't use message endings, deus ex machina endings, trick endings, smoky (unresolved) endings, confusing endings, or unearned endings.

Finally, save the prose for last.


Book of Shadows.

I'm doing some more research for the book, which has hit a bit of the doldrums due to me not knowing how I'm going to pull off what I'm doing next.

So...more witchcraft books. One on Celtic Faery magic, "Elemental Power," by Amber Wolf, and "Witch Crafting," by Phillis Curott. Per the advice at the front of the Curott book, I've started a Book of Shadows, a place to collect spells, cosmologies, etc.

I have mixed feelings.

Pagans lately have been cheesing me off. As it turns out, they're as hypocritical as everyone else; turns out that such is a human trait belonging to no particular dogma. (Hint: If you can do anything thou wilt, don't whine about all the things you can't do. Cast a f@#$%^&* spell and get over it, okay?) There are things in the religion that I can't relate to, for instance, all the ritual. On the other hand, there are things I can relate to, like casting spells. I always believed in magic as a kid, and even as an adult I've done a few, after my own fashion. Some worked, some didn't, and the success rate seemed relative to focus and desire rather than chance. Not the kind of thing where you make pencils levitate or summon demons, but the kind where you affect your life in a positive way.

If I were Christian, I'd say that I prayed. There are similarities.

Anyway, the act of writing things down helps put them into my long-term memory (from a certain perspective you can say that, anyway). I'm still skeptical...not so much as to the practicality of magic per se (except on the levitating pencil level) as the necessity of all the setting-up exercises. Okay. It's symbolic. It's poetic. But if you have the focus and desire, you have it, and if you don't, a sprig of mistletoe isn't going to give it to you, and maybe you shouldn't be doing it.

More wonder.

We caught dust mites this morning.
Harmonica. The harmonica has seen much use as of late. Brenna (Ray's bestest friend) came over, and Ray taught her how to play. They sat on the kitchen floor. Ray played the harmonica for a couple of minutes, then held it out to Brenna. Brenna picked it up and inspected it. Ray enouraged her: "Too! Too! Too!" she said. Brenna played the harmonica. Ray got up and ran around her in circles.

That was yesterday. This morning, I found a recorder at a garage sale.

This, too, is a good thing.



I played flute for Ray yesterday. She said, "Wow."

So when I ran across Lee's harmonica, I just pulled it out of the case and gave it to her. When I asked him it that was all right, he said, "What's the worst that could happen? It's a thirty-dollar harmonica."
Actual Quote.

Phyllis Curott, author of Witch Crafting, , in an interview:

"As far as being a witch and a lawyer is concerned, I like to joke that the lawyer is the dark side."


Brenna. We got to watch Brenna, Ray's toddler friend, today.

Well, it was during nap time. Ray decided to wig out while Lee and I tried to do yoga, so I ended up holding Ray and providing moral support. Ray cried and cried...finally, Brenna had had enough of the sadness, said, "Where's mommie?" and started crying, too. So I had two bebes weeping in my arms...

They got over it and ran around in circles, squealing.

They played with this Eeyore bubble blower, which Lee got for Ray after an attack of the cutes in the Disney store. Man, but that was adorable, except the part when they ran around trying to catch the bubbles and ran--smack!--into each other. No, wait, that was cute, too.
More potty training. My life doesn't revolve around potty training the way it must seem like it does. I swear.

Yesterday, Ray climbed up on the closed toilet while I ran water for her bath. She'd stripped off her diaper already.

"Day," she said. This could mean any number of things, like "Daddy," or "There."

Then she peed all over the toilet lid.

Before cracking up, I managed to praise her thoroughly and catch it all before it dripped onto the floor.

Am I a good mother, or what?


Potty training update.
I don't think I mentioned this earlier...

We have moved the potty chair into the bathroom.

Ray likes to practice. She'll follow me in, sit down, and pretend to go. This is somewhat embarrassing when she starts making grunting noises, but I get over it. Then I hand her a piece of toilet paper, she wipes herself (over her diaper and clothes if necessary), and puts it in the "big" toilet.

Whew. I finished the first draft of the project today.

FYI: I'll have the game logs up tomorrow or Wednesday.


Project. The thing that's sucking up my brain power this week is a big project for work: voila, give a training session for the QC department on how to give feedback. Coaching.

Step one: What?

Step two: But I suck at coaching. And I know nothing about giving presentations.

Step three: F--- learning experiences, man!

I have no idea what I'm doing. Fortunately, I scheduled myself a first draft a week before the thing is due, so I have time to contact one of the corporate trainers that I've put together training materials with (aha! you say...you do so have some tiny modicrum of experience. I reply: Big dif between writing procedures training materials and giving a soft-skills presentation. Shaddap, you, I'm looking for empathy here, not deductive logic) and get her to go over them with me.

Small group, all of whom I know reasonably well except the new supervisor, who is the type to ask questions for which she is not ready for the answer (but would be in thirty seconds if she just wouldn't f---ing interrupt).

Yeah, all of you trainers out there, laugh. Laugh where I can hear you, and you just earned yourself a session with the baby and a dirty diaper.
The Fourth. My brother-in-law, Mike, came up over the weekend of the fourth. We had Stacy over for a barbecue...I took Ray (by myself, those lazy bastards) to see the fireworks.


Unfortunately, she got bored with the fireworks about five minutes from the finale, and started flirting with a big puppy-dog instead. Fell asleep on the way home, no surprise there...

The fifth Mike and I went up to Denver to the Nobilis game at Doyce's: I hadn't known, but Doyce and Mike had known each other before Doyce and Lee had met. Weird thought. It was kind of funny talking to Mike about the game afterwards. He's never played in a diceless RPG before, so he had sunk so far into the analytical that when I asked what he thought about the people, he said, "Oh, fine," and discussed Nobilis and other possible games based off religion all the way back from Denver. Lee ended up missing the game (apart from a phone-in session) due to some right bastard quitting abruptly and the departing Lead pulling a don't-give-a-shit.

And on Sunday, mostly we just hung out.
Reviews. Princess Mononoke, God Save the Mark/The Hot Rock.

Princess Mononoke. From what I understand, the same director did this and Spirited Away. My apologies to Neil Gaiman, who did the English version of the script (and damn! did he do a good job. Yes, Doyce, it does look like the characters are mouthing the words that Gaiman puts in their mouths), I liked Spirited Away so much better that I was unsatisfied with this.

Don't get me wrong--this is a fine movie.

But you don't look at each and every individual frame and say, "Wooooow."

Donald E. Westlake.

The more of this guy I read, the more I like him. I have to say the Dortmunder novels make me happiest, though. Comedy is truly difficult to pull off, and to pull it off in a mystery/crime novel without getting cheesy is an achievement the likes of which you will probably never appreciate. I do, because I tried to do it...with a little success, but it's still beyond me yet. Ouch, I say, ouch.

God Save the Mark. The main character gets stiffed out of about fifty dollars a week--he is the world's easiest, most trusting mark. His best friend is a cop on the bunko squad...and his uncle is a semi-millionare, and dead. Guess what happens...

The Hot Rock. This is the first Dortmunder novel, which has just been re-released. Yay! The plot summary doesn't give anything away: Dortmunder gets out of jail and ends up with a job to steal an emerald. Six times.

The cool part is seeing Dortmunder wander through the first three capers, do ta do, and then...something clicks: for the first time, Dortmunder gets his panties in a wad and goes for revenge. (If you know Dortmunder, you know revenge makes him leap the gap between brilliance and genius.)

Cool! It's like seeing Batman put on the cape for the first time.

And yeah, I read the latest Harry Potter book, and yeah, I was happy. More than that I need not say.


Tappity tappity tappity. Over 200 pages on the novel. Nyaah.

Not anywhere near done. I'd say this is going to go to about 600 pages or so--not book pages, but standard manuscript format pages. I'm still in the beginning stages of the plot, the part where things get more and more complex, and the stakes increase. The movers and shakers behind the plot have not yet been revealed.

True to form, though: another character just died off.

I doubt she'll stay dead, but there you go.
New Stuff.

So there I was, sitting on the couch with the ones I love watching the cartoon Oswald on the Noggin, when Lee spouts up: "This show is all about trying new things."

Hm...is there more to a cartoon than just fighting evil?