Some days you’re the hydrant

Old What’s Her Face and I had a nice date last evening. Dinner at one of our favorite places that didn’t succumb to the whole Covid situation. This caused me to drag my feet getting to the writing cabin this morning.

I made a quick pass over my last 2000 words, then added a couple of dozen new ones before groaning. “Agghhh!”

“What’s wrong?” Percy the Space Chimp asked.

“Formatting.”

“Who cares about that? Let’s move this story forward.”

“Sadly, I do.”

“Look, it might just be another project to you, but it’s my life here, and I’d like to get on with it.”

“I have a problem doing that when I’m hung up on something. I started off putting small headers on certain chapters to tell readers where this part of the story takes place. Something small like what planet, what government, occasionally a city. Then it all went to crap.”

“Okay, so delete them all and let’s rock.”

“Not that simple. Early on, I think it helps readers to understand more about this environment. After a while, they get it, and you’ve traveled to some places multiple times. Then, some of this didn’t conveniently happen at the beginning of a chapter.”

“Okay, so leave the early ones, then give up on the idea.”

“That isn’t consistent. Readers will notice something like that.”

“What are you going to do?” Lisa, my robot girl PA asked.

“I’m going back through and adding them for consistency.”

“How long’s that going to take?” Percy asked.

“As long as it takes. Why? Do you have a hot date, or something?”

“I do if you write me one.”

“Look, I have a Muse. I have a PA who for some reason decided to wear a fur vest today—.”

“It’s a fake fur.”

“Who for some reason decided to wear a fake fur vest. Even the Research Sirens come around to bother me, but wind up helping. Unless one of you knows some Formatting Fairies, or something, this is all on me.”

Lisa straighten her vest. “It’s because Auburn has a vest like this in the story. We met the Green Fairy years ago, maybe she knows someone.”

“That was a long time ago, and we don’t want to talk about her. I think I should keep the headers.” I went to work using copy and paste, then over typing whatever I copied from.

“Dude, this is an endless loop.” Percy took a swig from his coffee. “Today you add them, later you delete them all, only to add them back down the road.”

“You’re not wrong. This is the kind of thing I have to deal with. They’re very helpful at the beginning. After about fifty-thousand words my readers are experts and don’t need them anymore.”

“You’re right. I don’t get it.”

“After I add them all we can move the story ahead.”

“Then delete them all later.”

“Probably. At least they exist if I want to leave them.”

Percy stood, then dusted his hands. “Looks like you don’t need me today. I think I’ll step into the forest and gather some wood. It’s stormy and clammy here, and a nice fire sounds like the ticket to me.”

Lisa assumed his former position on the couch. “I’ll do some Googling. Maybe there’s a Header Hobgoblin or someone who can direct you.”

“Thanks. At least you’re being more helpful than he is today.”

***

That’s how I spent my writing time today. If anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them.

23 Comments

Filed under Writing

23 responses to “Some days you’re the hydrant

  1. I think you’re right, the consistency matters. Also, as a reader, I would find it helpful to keep the labels. Like, “Aha, we’re back to the plot on Planet X now.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Consistency, yes. Depends on the novel if they get them or not. Sometimes it’s months and years, sometimes it’s location. Particularly for syfy. in the could be now “Jackson’s Apartment in Long Beach” should be evident or made evident in a simple line. “Percy’s Love Nest on ‘Sperkjiggler’ orbiting ‘Oinkers 7.4’ might be a requirement.” so you don’t have to drop that in narrative or dialogue and get to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never used these kind of headers and probably am overthinking it. I wish they could all be at the beginnings of chapters, but that would mean adding pages of fluff to get some of them where they look best. I’m going to keep using them and assess later.

      Like

      • They don’t necessarily have to be chapter headers. A standard *** scene separator, next line time, location etc. if you have whiplash scene changes I’ve seen that used. Ben Rehder uses it effectively for keeping everyone on the timeline with (almost too many) characters and tangents. Just a thought.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s how I did them when they didn’t land on chapters.

        Like

  3. I’m not much help I’m afraid. Maybe your formatted can help.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Locations as chapter titles seem like a good idea. I’ve seen it before to help readers keep track of the timeline and progress. They help with ‘time passes’ too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You just made me rethink whether I need my headers, Craig. Argh! Lol. I like your idea of orienting the reader, especially if you’re jumping planets, but now I’m wonderfing if I should take mine out. Why did I put them in there in the first place? Have a great Sunday and Happy Writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Formatting, the bane of my existence!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My biggest weakness in this whole writing game is formatting, so sadly, I’m afraid I am no help at all. I’m with Percy. A nice fire would be welcome. 🙂 Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m definitely not the person to ask about formatting. I’d be helping Percy or Lisa.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. LOL! Well, I have a hobgoblin in the ms I’m currently editing, but he doesn’t do headers. I hope you get it straightened out. Formatting is not my forte!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. D.L. Finn, Author

    I’d like to run into a heading Hobgoblin. You are right about consistency though.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Good luck, Craig! Hope you come up with headers that work for you so you can keep them.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Craig, honestly, I would probably feel compelled to add the headings too even though I should leave it to the end.

    Liked by 1 person

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