Tag Archives: Left Brain

Let’s all Outline

I sent a text to Lisa* this morning. “Thaw him out. I’ll be there in a few hours.”

“Are you sure? Lefty can be kind of disruptive.”

“I’m sure. I need to expand my outline.”

I spent a couple of hours reading your blogs and going through email. I really didn’t want to do this project, but it was time. I headed for the writing cabin.

I climbed the stairs from the basement and Lisa met me in the kitchen. She had on a nice suit in Autumn colors with matching pumps. “The cork board is all set up in the paranormal office.”

“Where’s Lefty?”

“He’s in there sharpening all the pencils, filling your fountain pen, and lining up all the index cards and sticky notes.”

I headed for the paranormal office while talking over my shoulder. “You need to watch him. He’ll rearrange everything if you let him.”

We walked in and pulled on our lab coats. Lefty can be a little gooey. The left side of my brain stood on the working surface of the roll top desk from Will ‘O the Wisp.

Lefty held up an index card. “Here you go. This is your first target. You’ve finished act one, and some of the characters drifted into act two already. They’re all at different places and need to be–

I held up my palm and stopped him. The card said, “Midpoint Act Two: Completely changes the game, even the plan. A setback, loss, death, love interest, huge revelation, huge personal loss.

Use recalibrating, desperate acts, unethical behavior to get to the end of the act. Great place for ticking clock and dark night of the soul.”

“I don’t know what you were thinking. You got three point of view characters in three different places. How are you going to introduce all this for each character?” Lefty asked.

I pinned the index card to the cork board. “I’m not. I think whatever events I choose must happen in the story. I don’t think they have to happen to each character.”

“Sounds like crap to me. Move that card so it makes a nice column. Hey doll face, make genius here drink some coffee. I’ve been frozen for months.”

I moved the card and rolled my eyes. “Think about it. I’ve got two characters that would do something unethical. My heroine has to give up on a lifelong career and that’s a huge personal loss.” Lisa handed me a cup of coffee. “I think I can mix and match. Besides, it’s a first draft.”

“Remember, you have to do some plants along the way leading up to this.” Lefty handed me another card. “Just pin that one to the bottom there. A little more to the right. Then your payoffs can come in the second half, or even Act Three.”

The card said, “Act Two Climax: Full revelation for the characters. They know who, what, when, where, why, and how. This includes how dangerous and what the stakes are.”

I made cards for each character and decided to send them to New Orleans. I like to make my characters work in an unfamiliar environment. It adds a subtile tension you don’t have on familiar streets.

“When are you going to kill the dog?” Lefty asked. “I don’t see that card.”

“I’m not. It’s been done so often I think it’s cliche.”

“Come on. You need a personal loss somewhere. Does that mean the sidekick dude bites it?”

“Don’t know yet. There has to be some creative way to put a little emotion in here.”

“Go with the classics, I say. That’s why they’re classic. I know, you could kill that little girl. The readers will be all pissed off, but your other leads will never know.”

“Dude, seriously? It’s more classic to save the victim, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, that’s also a classic.” He moved closer to my cup to warm his backside.

I added some sticky notes off to the side to remind me about plants & payoffs, important events, and character arch. We even googled some old mausoleums and pinned up a few photos.

“Now in the second half, they have to get the maguffin, and find out they’re in the wrong place. You could have the wrong guy get it, and lead to a big chase or a shootout,” Lefty said.

“Not today,” I said. “I’m going to write this part and see where it goes. That makes the next part of the outline tighter.”

“Pansy. You should have done the whole outline before writing the first word. It makes you more efficient.”

I wiggled my finger at Lisa and she took a freezer bag from her lab coat. “There’s a reason you don’t get to write with me. You’d have all my stories full of pie charts and graphs.”

Lefty used the drawers like stairs and scurried out of the room and down the hall; Lisa in hot pursuit. I wiped down the desktop and started writing.

*Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She’s a robot and works for me at the writing cabin these days.


Filed under Muse, Writing

Updates All Around

Last night I combined cover art and manuscript and headed for Amazon.com. I added a promotion page for Wild Concept at the back of my Panama manuscript. I made a similar page for the back of Wild Concept at the same time, but needed an URL. I uploaded Panama and went to bed. It takes about a dozen hours before the URL is available.

Today, Panama is live on the Kindle store. You can download it here: Panama.


I headed for the writing cabin to finish my upgrading. The first part involved adding the promotional page to Wild Concept so folks might easily find Panama. It wasn’t terribly hard, and it’s in review once more. I used a page break for the promotional pages, but the preview doesn’t display like it should. I’m interested in any feedback readers have on the end pages.

Bento* poached a couple eggs and made me some coffee. “So that’s it? The book is for sale?”

“Yeah, not too glamorous. Just a bunch of computer work,” I said. “Now I have to update the blog with an image link so people can find your story easily.”

I used the WordPress Image widget and set it up. “Link to the Amazon page, check. Minor word copy, check. Load the image — What the hell?”

I opened my image library, copied the URL, and it refused to load.

The rumble of a Harley Davidson sounded down the valley. We stepped outside and saw Lisa** winding toward the cabin along the gravel road.

“She will know what to do,” Bento said. He took out his Bull Durham and rolled a smoke.

“I hope so.”

Lisa rolled to a stop out front. When she stepped off her bike her hair was brunette. She lifted Bunny’s flight kennel from the sidecar and untied her suitcase from the rack on back of the sidecar. “Hi guys; miss me?”

“Welcome home,” Bento said.

“What have you done with your hair?” I asked.

“I had to make some changes in Las Vegas. I’m kind of known at the casinos there. I really cleaned up though. You boys grab my stuff while I park. I’ll meet you inside.”

We carried Bunny and the suitcase into the living room/lobby. Lisa pulled around the hill and parked in the basement. When she walked in the cabin, she had her boots slung over her shoulder. She knew Bento’s rules about shoes inside.

After she settled in, I told her about my predicament with the WordPress widget.

She found the enchanted beer horns and filled them up. “It’s actual Romulan Ale. The Romulans showed up at one of the comic conventions and I thought of you.” She set the horns on the counter and they ran to Bento and I.

“You need to know when to celebrate. Getting Panama online is a big deal. All the other stuff can wait.”

I took a swig of my beer and said, “It’s just so damned frustrating. I know what I want, and it won’t accept the link.”

“Do you want me to do it for you? It won’t take a sec–

“No. I want to know how to do it myself. I did it for your story, and should be able to do it this time too.”

She padded across the kitchen on bare feet and stopped at the refrigerator. She bent down and opened the freezer drawer.

“What are you doing?” Bento asked. “I’ve already sat out steak to thaw.”

“It isn’t dinner,” she said. “Craig’s going to need his left brain.” She sat a frozen bundle on the counter. It was covered in butcher paper and looked a little freezer burnt.

She set the microwave to ‘thaw’ and turned back around with a flip of her hair. I hadn’t noticed before, but her eyes were brown again. She removed her eye units and changed out the brown caps for her normal green ones. “The hair will wash out in a few days to a week.”

Coughing and sputtering came from the microwave. “Somebody get me out of here.”

Lisa opened the door and my left brain stumbled against the side of the oven. “That rotisserie setting makes a guy dizzy,” he said.

“This is the most screwed up place I’ve ever been,” Bento said. “You’ve been working all this time with half a brain?”

“Some people don’t give me credit for even that much.” I grabbed the left brain and carried him to my office.

After I explained the problem, Lefty had me try a complete reboot of my system. It didn’t work.

“Try this,” Lefty said. “Open the cover image in a new window. Copy the link over there and paste it in.”

I did what he said, but it didn’t work. “You’d think there would just be a button or a browse for image thingie.”

“Thingie? Is that how you talk without me?” Lefty asked. “I think I prefer the deep freeze.”

Lisa polished her nails against her blouse and raised and eyebrow.

“I get it. You’re a robot. It’s probably nothing to you, but I have to learn this stuff.”

Lefty took a swig of my ale and said. “The URL under the Wild Concept image looks different than the one you’re trying to get for Panama. We need to find out where that URL came from and use that one.”

We clicked around for several more hours. Finally, Lefty said, “Look at this. When I edit the image there are actually two links. One above the image, and a different one near the save button. It runs off the edge, but it looks the same as the Wild Concept link.”

I copied that link and pasted it in. It had references to Helvetia font, all kinds of braces, slashes and brackets. I uploaded it anyway. It failed.

“Here’s the deal,” Lefty said. “I still think it looks right. Paste the link into a document so I can see the whole thing.”

I did as told, using my Notes app. It took up a quarter page.

Lefty leaned forward and squinted. “The part you want is in there. I want you to delete every thing that’s either side of http and jpg. Just keep that part.”

Again, I followed orders.

“Now copy all that’s left and paste it into your widget,” Lefty said.

Copy – Paste – submit. “It didn’t fail. Better reload my blog page and see how it displays,” I said.

“Yay,” Lisa said while clapping.

“Perhaps you should click on it to make sure it goes to the Amazon page,” Bento said.

I clicked the image, it went to Amazon, all is well.

“That was kind of a cowboy fix, but it worked,” Lisa said.

“Sometimes you just have to think logically,” Lefty said. He pointed to his half of the cerebral cortex. “I think you need me more than you know.”

“Sorry Bub,” I said. “It’s back to the freezer for you. I remember all those fights you and righty got into. You have your moments, but writing isn’t your strong suit.

He wrapped a skinny arm, that looked more like an artery around my beer horn. “One for the road?”

“Why not,” I said. Lisa topped off our beer.

* Bento is a supporting character in Panama. He’d appreciate a reader or two.

** Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She’d appreciate a reader just as much.


Filed under Blogging, Muse