Knives: digging in the dirt a bit

©2022 Michael Raven

Even though I didn’t directly work on the book I have in my head, I did a ton of writing about it this evening. In fact, I feel pretty darned good about the shape it is taking.

You see, I consider brainstorming, research, and story development to be “working” on the novel, even if I didn’t put down a single word of story into Scrivener. For this part, I prefer to pencil scratch so I can get more visceral about the design, make all kinds of doodles, boxes, arrows, and whatnot. I like a jumbled mess, because if it is too clean-looking, the outline becomes intimidating for me. I feel obligated to use all of the neat notes whereas a scribbled mess is more like an old map I found in a bottle that is less reliable and hard to read, so I’m okay if I go off on a tangent and ignore my previous hard labors.

So I get my hands dirty.

I did rough out the second chapter’s scenes: a page of scrawled half-notes with as many questions as plot points. It’s the morning after for Winter, and she is waiting to go back to the too-good-to-be-true house to check out the surrounding land, make another obligatory walk through of the house itself and… have a minor mishap that, while stressful at the time really cements her connection to this place.

Having done so, I discovered she is part Amerindian/Native American, part English, part mixture of many other things (like most of us melting pot Americans are). I discovered the story was indeed in a fictional place in northern Minnesota, probably in the Bemidji area, but not too close to that “major hub”.

She’s starting to open up to me. I think we’ll get to know each other pretty good in the upcoming weekend over a pot of coffee.

I also learned more about the town and the Parker family. Pa Parker has a bit darker past than even I suggested in what I have written so far and he reminds me of a neighborhood jerk who lived next to us where I grew up. Fine and upstanding on the outside (unlike my neighbor), but open secret that he was a bit of a jerk. And, a few skeletons that really made him a loathsome man. Or pitiful. Take your pick. Ma Parker, well… she lost her mind a bit after certain things happened that everyone avoids talking about, much like they did while she was still alive. Things were better if you didn’t mention certain topics and she was almost stabile those days.

Jeff Parker is probably going to have a name change as well, as that name is just not everyman high school jock like her tells me he probably is. He had to be tough and athletic to be remotely acceptable to his machismo-laden Pa. Maybe even a nickname that followed him into his professional life. He’s being cagey thus far, but his role is not done. He has skeletons in his closet as well.

Hell, the whole town has them, but the Parkers have some real lively ones doing the danse macabre around the firepit when no one is home.

And some strange things happen around this tiny town, which is trying to pretend they are “normal”. No log lady levels of weird, but they aren’t exactly untouched by everything that has happened around them either.

So — no. No actual story tonight, but lots of critical biography, background and secrets were revealed once I started asking everyone the hard questions.

Now, I’ll have to go to bed early so I can make a fresh start on the next scene this weekend.

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