No doorways, no windows, no walls
No shelter here on the ground
No standing and no safe place to fall
Just the promise of this distant sound
Bells are ringing all over the world

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Danger, Muse at Work

One of the tips Tobias Buckell (and others) has for new writers is to find out when then are most active in writing fiction and then write during those times (seems easy, but then the best, hard-won advice and the most difficult to follow always seems easy). When I was starting out, my Muse liked to work late hours (and I think she still does), but now it seems she wants a lunchtime shift. Bad thing for me as I don't get lunches at the day job. So lots o' notes get taken (note to self, maybe a picture of a week's worth of note taking is in order here).

Today's gift (of which the muse says, "Share it, damn it!" My Muse, she's such a potty mouth :) ), goes toward the book. In Act III (Orpheus in the Underworld Redux), I have a character of a cop/administrator/demon (I think his title should be "Deacon") named Karen (actual pronunciation of Charon, it's a guy, as he explains, "It's an old family name"). I've been wondering what he's like, how he works, how he can help the story (he's been standing there tapping his foot every since I realized Steve would need help in the afterlife/Hell's waiting room, waiting for me to pay attention and write him). Turns out Karen is either English or Aussie (could go either way, although I'm leaning English). Just got a part of a scene, mostly dialog.

So, as the Muse commands, so we do. Here it is with all my notes to myself and thinking out loud lines in parenthesis (yes, I write them out so I won't forget). The incredibly horrible Draft Zero edition.

Scene starts midstream, Karen is driving Steve somewhere in an electric golf cart (the afterlife is Green and Hi-Tech, natch), at this point Karen is trying to help Steve find the Girl (still named Rachel, although it doesn't feel right and she's not speaking to me yet because of it - I think Steve is talking about her here, saying how she would be the type that was Raptured).

"The 'Rapture'," asked Karen.

"Yeah, it happened six years ago. Lots of people taken up to heaven," Steve said, making grand gestures with his hands. "You know," he smiled hopefully at Karen.

"Oh," Karen said, shaking his head. "That. What a Holy mess that was. No memos, no planning, no warning and bingo-bango all these people start showing up (need something about like refugees on the shores, "Your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...") Completely overwhelmed us. Total cock-up if you ask me."

Steve gaped, "But I thought it would only be on Heaven's side?"

"Well, they got full up now, didn't they, Busting at the seems they were. Naturally we had to deal with the overflow. Had to set up refugee camps to manage them all. First time the hotel (is explained earlier, "Hotel Hell, there's always room for one more") ever ran out of rooms, and they were packed in their there like cord wood inside. Big fire hazard. Totally mismanaged. Took us months to repatriate everybody once we determined (need better word) they weren't for our side. And those were on top of the normal errors (might need term here for those sent to wrong side of wall)."

"What errors?"

"Oh, it was a mess, I can tell you," Karen looked over and nodded his head in sympathy with himself. "Then we had to clean it all up. I mean, they were really messy people. Trash Filth all over the place (Hell's half-acre?). The maintenance crews did a really good job. Hell is a much nicer place now." (maybe a joke about urban-planning here)

"What errors," Steve asked again.

"What? Oh, well, with such a big operation," Karen waved his left hand in a big circle, "there's always someone who's queued to the wrong side of the wall. Once we got the software working right, we were down to less than three percent in error, " Karen said with some pride. "Pretty good, eh?" (too Canadian?)

Steve was thinking. "Just what happens with these errors?"

"Oh, we process them out as quick as possible ASAP. It's what we thought you were at first," Karen leaned over to Steve conspiratorially. "But you're something else entirely."

"But if I were, what would happen to me?"

"We'd drop you off at the Heavens Gate (Brandenburg Gate, wack-a-loon group mashup) for processing like all the rest." Karen said that, slowing near the end. He stopped the cart and looked at Steve.

"Where," Steve started to ask.

Karen stepped on the pedal and swerved the cart around, "Way ahead of you, mate."

(I don't think they find her there, hey, that would be too easy, but I don't have that full scene anyway, only notes of what it's like, I think I shared those before, and I know Karen helps them out, I don't know how they figure it out, but I know how they do it - mostly, maybe, somewhat, I don't know, the Muse has that smile on her face that she's got something up her sleeve for that.)

Gotta post now, I'm starting to make edits. Must... stop... editing...


Anonymous said...

Instead of determined why not use ascertained? The idea of proving something totally seems to be a good replacement.

Another Steve

Todd Wheeler said...

Great stuff. Got me chuckling this morning.

Steve Buchheit said...

Another Steve, thanks for the good idea on the word. Actually, when I wrote it out, and reread it, "determined" still sticks in my head as out of character. I think Karen would say something more colorful and I feel "ascertained" is too clinical. I need something along the lines of "once they dropped their drawers, we knew who was which." Although that's a pretty crude example, but it would be something Karen would say. I'll probably need to watch "Fawlty Towers" and "Monty Python" for a bit to get the voice right (I'm still pretty sure he's English, so the "mate" at the end may have to go).

Thank Todd. It is supposed to be a comedy, glad I'm hitting on target.