To Thicken the Plot, Add Cornstarch

Drunk men falling down

Practicing yoga after drinking beer

This morning I went for a run at 7:00, and afterward I could feel my thighs more than normally. I ascribe those hints of fire in the muscles to the fact that three days ago I had my first yoga class. On the other hand, it was three days ago. What am I, some kind of weird wimp? At any rate, I had a class, and here is a random (really random) selection of some things I learned: (1) Some people are waaay more limber than me. (2) It’s possible to stand completely still—except when you’re falling down—in one position after another, until sweat drips off you, you’re breathing hard, and you hope no one is looking at you. (3) My sense of balance might not be as good as I’d wish. (4) I think I did well on the part where you just lie on your mat afterward. I could develop that.

I like the fact that there is a bit of poetry in the language of yoga practice. If you are a true yogatron, then you know this far better than I do, in which case please do not interrupt me here with actual knowledge. The different poses have names, and I think we did Smoochie Mouse, Imperious Snake, and Lick Your Elbow. I might not be remembering the names perfectly. Or even slightly.

Although they asked me if I would be in a video on how not to do yoga, I’m going to keep doing it. I even went yesterday and bought myself a birthday present, a yoga mat. I got the really nice one, with a cup holder so that my beer doesn’t spill while I’m getting healthy and spiritual and stuff.

I have a goal today to do more than blow a lot of time away on blog fluff. I need to go to the grocery store. Maybe I’ll need a nap. As you can see, it’s looking like a pretty full schedule there. Also on the checklist of things to do is “Work on marvelous novel that will someday be famous”. So I need to get around to that too.

I’ve been on a good roll with the writing lately, and the story has been moving, with less screaming and glasses of Scotch and threats to kill myself. That’s when you know you’re in the zone with your fiction writing. All of the action of the book for the last several chapters has been in the past (1876, if you haven’t paid close attention), and the book is almost 180 pages now. We left Vandalia, Illinois, and took the train to Indianapolis, to stay for a bit. On the train I’ve had them meet a Polish nobleman, who invites Benedict to stop in Indianapolis for a high-stakes poker game, though I have some surprises planned.

I’m looking for ways to add more drama to the book, which is not really the point, as this is not a book about the plot. The real purpose of this book is the entertainment (if there is any) of reading about one adventure after another, and with a mix of character types moving through. Still, it seems to me that the book is more likely to be successful if I can create a little “plot-ness” to pull the reader forward. Having at least some dramatic sections may add another layer of interest, so that one might read on several levels: to see what the characters are doing, to see what new adventures come along, to see how the dilemmas of the plot get solved.

Good strong plots, a real ability to tell stories—these are not my natural strengths. With enough thought and anguish and threats to kill myself I can come up with plots, but sometimes I can’t believe how hard it is. I’m sure there are writers who are natural story tellers, and occasionally I wish I was one. I’ve got a few plot tricks in mind that I’ll try along the way for this book. Benedict and Miramar could meet a conman or thieves, they can get stuck in the past for a while, they can get separated in the past so that Benedict loses Miramar and has to find her. Maybe I’ll think of other things. Maybe I’ll even think of good things.

If I don’t, I’ll kill myself. Or I’ll just do yoga, which might have the same effect.

/by the way/ I think I have a ghost in the apartment, though I’m told there aren’t any ghosts. So maybe my sweater just crawled up off the back of the chair and dropped onto the floor by itself. That can happen, right? But I didn’t see it happen, only heard it hit the floor, then looked afterward.

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Filed under Giving Birth to a Book (That's Why I'm Screaming)

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