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Who Knows What When

One of the real tricks of writing is controlling who finds out key ingredients to the plot and when. I’m struggling with a conversation right now that makes sense…if it takes place in JP’s office. If it takes place aboard Cetacean, a whole lotta people are going to know a whole lot more than I anticipated at this point in the story.

So…move the scene to JP’s office, right? Problem is, to get it there requires probably 20,000 otherwise unnecessary words and slows the action! (I’m guessing here, but it would mean bridging time gaps and decreasing the sense of urgency everybody s/b feeling.) By putting it aboard Cetacean, everything is snappier. Sigh….

Grrr…So…I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I’m actually going through and “outlining” in that I’m getting a time sequence of scenes that both works and keeps things moving. Having interlinked plot happening light years apart is…intrustin’….

33 comments to Who Knows What When

  • Could you put ’em on a shuttle? Might be a third solution. I have no idea if that would make any sense, plot or pacing or who knows what when.

    OK, back to fiddling with web page wackiness and finding my way around Inkscape again.

  • My suggestion would be to have the person with the information trap/waylay the other in some out of the way place to let the person(s) know what needs to be told. You can even heighten the urgency of the scene by fearing someone might have heard. Doing during some other minor emergency creates even more trouble. This way it need only be a slight side-trip instead of adding so much that might not be needed.

  • WOL

    In all those writers workshops, nobody ever seems to mention that an important part of the writing process is knowing how to juggle.

  • How about using communicators and letting them yell through them? They have visual communicators, right?

  • WOL: Excellent way to put it! I think juggling is the number one skill, at least the kind of book I write. πŸ˜€

    Onna: The whole problem in this series is summed up in “Techno Terrorism is a Bitch.” The communications we’re getting now make keeping secrets really hard. Extrapolated out a couple of centuries and to dealing with people who live and breath communication and Securities and talking out loud almost anywhere is insecure. OnWorld, yes, if they’re not wearing a beeper, but on a station…Big Brother is watching. Considering the danger should a seal be breached, universal monitoring is pretty much a necessity. The way I have it, private residences are camera free, but anyplace else, you’re likely to have a camera on you. The laws for who has access to what kind of sensory-enhancing devices and under what circumstances comprise the largest section of their lawbooks! πŸ˜€

    JP would be safe to talk in his own office on CNAS, but not anywhere aboard Cetacean. Stephen got away with it in NeXus by jigging the system in his own room, but JP’s in no position to do that, being hit with the Situation right outside Chet’s office. It’s one of those “do I keep the scene opening impact or dilute with setup.” I prefer the former and just figure what to do if he’s forced to spill information. (I love tormenting JP.)

  • WOL

    Have you ever watched the newest version of Dr. Who on BBC America? There’s this one David Tennant episode called “Blink” which is just brilliant in terms of who knows what when. It’s a Steve Moffat written episode. It won a BAFTA and a Hugo, among other awards, including one for the actress who played the leading role. Just blows my socks off every time I watch it.

  • Walt

    One thing that rarely disorients me as a reader (it’s too frequent) and tends to baffle me about when to use it, is when the author just skips in time and space to the next scene. When do you want to show ever step of the journey, and when do you just want to skip to the ensuing plot nexus?

    So maybe one solution is, the characters from Cetacean stomp into JP’s office, whinging about having to come in person (“Just why couldn’t we use comms?”) or the trip (“It seems I spend half my time on shuttles.”) And off you go with only a hundred words or so.

    But as I say, I’m baffled about when to use this technique. When I do get disoriented by it, it’s invariably not because of the writing, but because I’m wondering, “Why did the author use the technique here and not twenty pages ago?” It is a puzzlement.

  • That’s an interesting question. If building tension is temporally dependent, i.e. something happening elsewhere that needs to be simultaneous with the events in question, or keeping a certain mental attitude in a given character, then time skips become less flexible. In an ODTA (one damn thing after another) linear plot, leaps of time become much easier. The more characters, the more interwoven plotlines, the trickier the juggling act.

    The problem here is, I don’t think JP would willing say these things in the presence of Cantrell et al at this time…well, he’s not WILLING to tel anyone. I’d thot he was just going to spill certain limited info to Marani, but he really kind of needs, temporally, to be in Cetacean when the confrontation between him and Rani needs to take place.

    Also, if you can manage to pull the string to both squeeze time in order get all the characters in the same place at the same time, it helps to keep the book moving. In this case, slightly shifting a specific motivation of one character can get them all on the Cetacean. It now just becomes a case of how much JP is going to spill under pressure from Rani.

  • ‘Fraid I don’t have the solution for JP’s problem. — Though some sort of software/hardware malfunction/outage or “We are experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by.” A maintenance issue, might be convenient. Too convenient? Whodunit? I say this since last week, I had power out for over an hour for no reason I could tell. Though there’s scheduled maintenance that might be handy, plot-wise. Just because it’s the future with redundant backups and (we hope) more reliable tech, doesn’t mean, say, Crewman Murphy didn’t spill the mop bucket into the works, or the space mice / flatcars / Dinner πŸ˜‰ didn’t get into things and start chewing. (Had to tell a certain feline just now, “No. Don’t chew!”

    Easy way around skipping time/place: Use a “dateline.” — Tell the time and place in a dateline heading. Or a simple section break with stars or other printer’s ornaments can work.

    — And yeah, “Blink” was an awesome episode.

    • chondrite

      Started pinning together baby quilt #4; at least I got the top for BQ#3 stitched up. Now all I have to do is lay out the Quilt Sandwich, pin it, stitch it, and bind it. Wash, rinse, repeat.

      Zorro is having more wild hairs these days, for reasons that defy analysis. Her latest trick is aggressively scratching our redwood paneling, which seems to be ever so tempting to her kitteh claws. We just found a hall corner where she has managed to claw out a 6″ square divot in splinters. No, bad Zorro! I plop packing tape over the tempting places and put up scratching posts, and DH speculates about declawing (!!!) Who needs flatcats when you can have feline shredders?

      • I once had a cat declawed and regretted it. There is nothing so damning / guilting as seeing your cat habitually “sharpening” his non-existent claws. There’s also the need to climb or to defend oneself or hunt. But I felt sorry for my poor cat always thereafter, seeing him “sharpen’ those claws. He was a sweet guy too, other than those claws. I vowed never to do that again. I did admit to my vet I shouldn’t have said yes to the suggestion.

        My current two: Goober is good about his claws. He knows (mostly) to hold them in. He isn’t obnoxious about scratching/sharpening. Smokey, though…has never learned to hold his claws in when playing or kneading, and is too blasted fond of scratching/sharpening and of trying to chew. …I found he’s mauled a carpet edge I’ll need to pull up. Sigh. (His middle name is Trouble, I decided, because he’s always into something. Usually, he’s good, the curiosity and playing is great; but the misbehavior…sigh…and trying to train him out of it usually is met with, “What are you talking to *me* for?” attitudinals. Love the little guy like crazy. Just wish I could get him trained better. Very much appreciate Goober’s gentlemanly behavior. Love him like crazy too. Wish I could train him to stick up for himself more. πŸ™‚

        • dhawktx

          It helps to have a scratching pad/post in every room. When he starts scratching an inappropriate spot make the “ANCK” (warning buzzer) noise and when he pauses to look at you, go over to the post/pad and scratch at it yourself while looking him in the eyes. It’s a challenge and he’ll ‘need’ to scratch there too. After a while the “ANCK” noise will make him stop and go over to the scratch post/pad and work his frustrations out there.

          Also, keep him clipped close. The more often you clip him, the shorter his nails will be because the quick will retreat from the edge. Do it often enough and there’s very little he can grab destructively.

  • Off-Topic: (drawing) Had about 2 hrs. with Inkscape for the first time in ages. I’ll need to RTFM some more, and my bézier curves were not smooth and pretty, but what I did was fun to stretch my very rusty vector drawing muscles.

    Off-Topic: (BJD) A box from Parabox awaits me at the post office for Tuesday. Yay! — About half the clothes I ordered have arrived. Very pleased with one eBay seller who does Ken & Barbie outfits: markc1118 ;

    * I did not find my old Mego Star Trek figures. Boo πŸ™ Not sure if they got boxed up and are “hiding” or if they were missed in a move. … But both the BJD and this have started me moving again on boxing/unboxing, which is good. … So, doubtful they’re still around, but I might get a surprise.

  • dhawktx

    See BCS? BJDs are great for creativity AND getting you motivated on other things!

  • Like cleaning the basement so I have room to make his majesty’s Apollo outfit. Sheesh…

  • I’m busy restraining myself from looking at (or impulse-buying) more *doll-related stuff. — Still open to Donna’s and Jane’s offers, be it noted.

    * I’m having a male ego crisis about using the word “doll” to describe the darn things. LOL! (Though I did see a cool review by a younger guy who is into BJD’s. Don’t recall the screen name, though.)

    I’ve now seen one good faceup video and one not-good faceup video. But I need to know more. Pplz, expect more email questions soon. πŸ™‚

    And yes, if this gets me motivated on other things, that’s both needed and welcome.

  • dhawktx

    *is busily looking for Obitsu bits…*

  • Onna — Oh thank you, that helps a great deal!

    So my new guy will look a lot like ObitYuki, but in Fleshtone and a lighter hair color. If that’s a truer representation of the fleshtone versus “white,” then hmm, my guy is going to look like he has a sunburn. I may have to get very creative with dyeing or painting, whole body face up. His waist is smaller than it ought to be, but that’s OK.

    The smaller figure, ObiShu, looks good in relation to the older figure. This answers a question I had when looking at options.

    After looking at faceup demos / tutorials, I think (1) I’ll need brushes and stick pastels (I’ll have to see how my pencils are). (2) I’m not ready to swing for an airbrush yet. Dang, I have never really done makeup and haven’t painted in ages. (3) I now expect to need a couple more heads to practice on. That 21cm head looks good, and the Ares and the other slim male heads also looked good.

    On your other slideshows: Who’s the boy in the first two Timeline photos, in the regimental / 18th/19th Century vest? That is, what model? He looks very good. (Neat vest too.) And who is (what model) is the toddler with the goggles in the great action pose there in the Profile images? Did you photoshop blur out the doll’s joints some, or are they that well concealed? Does he pose that well?

    (Down boy. Telling myself very firmly, I can’t do a lot more this month and need to be careful. But hah, the enthusiasm has hit more than I expected. Possibly, I’ve gone into my second childhood early…never left…something like that….)

    • You’ll be grateful for the narrow waist when you start putting layers of clothing on! πŸ˜€ Between waistbands, belts and tucked in shirts, it keeps them from becoming tanks!

      Did you want me to send eyes? Hair? (Onna…do they wear CLine sized wigs?)

    • Glad the photos helped! Doll folk LOVE to help new doll folk in the right direction. We’ve made all the mistakes and want to help newbies avoid them as much as possible.

      Yes, your new guy will be like ObitYuki with the darker tone of ObitShu. I probably should explain these bizarre names. I have (let me count now) six versions of the same boy’s love anime/manga characters in the Crew. I can go into that later because it’s a LONG story for each of the pairs. For now, they may be based on the same characters but only the canon dolls are close to the manga/anime. The others have taken off and become their own entities. I change the names so they are similar but not the same so I can identify which dolls are which.

      Next question: I suggest buying the detail brushes from JunkySpot. For tiny heads you need tiny brushes.

      Don’t bother with an airbrush. These little heads take an hour max from start to finish, or less if you put in less details.

      DO invest in the giant bottle of Windsor Newton brush cleaner for cleaning. Also, for the vinyl heads you can use nail polish remover safely. NEVER on resin!

      I’ve added some photos since then but I think you’re talking about the boy in the steampunk outfit by Wicked Stitchery. He’s my latest adoptee, a Fairyland Littlefee El Elf. He will be chibi Son Goku from Saiyuki when I get him his clothes and chains.

      The pic at the top of my page is of MY Littlefee Shiwoo, Chi, the boy who charmed Jane so much I knew my second LTF Shiwoo still in the box belonged to Jane, not me. Yes, that boxed Shiwoo is now the uber-charming Wiishu! That’s why I’m Mama-D. πŸ™‚

      Chi does pose that well. Fairyland dolls are awesome posers and well-engineered, which is why people love them so much. His posability is why I chose him for my model. He is free-standing, too – no propping up on something that was Photoshopped out of the photo.

      I took him into one of our empty classrooms with a window close to a white wall, used a white foamboard for the base for him to stand, and started shooting. If you look closely you will note I also changed his hands for the different poses.

      Yes – good eye – I Photoshopped ALL the joints on the three images. THAT took some time to get them not only gone but making sure the arms still retained realistic shadows a real arm would have in that light.

      Now Son Goku was an adopted doll so he has become quite loose over time and with me he’s a little floppy. That’s okay. Eventually I will hand him over to my doll daughter who maintains my Crew for me.

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