Thanksgiving was a quiet holiday, a four-day weekend of much needed downtime.
My wife made a delicious Thanksgiving lunch with enough leftovers to last the rest of the weekend. For the first time that I can recall (though she said she’d done so once before), she used both ovens in the kitchen. I walked into the house from hitting golf balls in the frigid, sunny day to the delicious odor of cooking turkey.
Of course, this is the time of year to acknowledge all that we have to be thankful for, and that’s a lot. I have a good job and still have health insurance. I have wonderful family and friends. I’ve been published this year, and I’m readying an agent search for my completed novel. I’m meeting interesting and engaging people through writer’s groups.
I had a date night to see Thor: The Dark World. It was a solid movie–good storytelling, good effects, and good action. I loved Natalie Portman’s character (Jane) slugging Loki, telling him that’s for New York. Naturally, this referenced The Avengers, but the best part was that a regular person acted how many regular people wished they could act. The successive scenes where Thor and his friends warn Loki that he better not betray Thor, or they will kill him worked great. What a wonderful example of repetition that characterized the speaker, Thor, and particularly, Loki. There’s a reason Loki was getting so many warnings–he’s not an upstanding character.
I have to admit that I spent some time watches portions of the Harry Potter movies broadcast on ABC Family. One of my favorite scenes occurs in the Order of the Phoenix where Harry comes across Luna feeding threstrals (the skeleton-like horses invisible to most). Not only does Evanna Lynch
play Luna perfectly, she has a pivotal line to turn Harry to the correct path. She tells him that it’s easier for Voldermort if Harry feels alone. The exact line is: ” Well if I were You-Know-Who, I’d want you to feel cut off from everyone else. Because if it’s just you alone you’re not as much of a threat.” This is crucial. Harry turns to his friends, and it’s only with his friends that he can ultimately win, as we see in the remainder of the movie and the last three movies.
As an aside, I think the above scene is a great scene for writers. A supremely important piece of information can come from anywhere. It doesn’t have to and probably shouldn’t come from the most obvious place. In this case, Ron and Hermione weren’t in position to say so and neither was Dumbledore. There were other students, McGonagall, or even Sirius who could’ve told Harry that. But Luna delivering the message by observing the situation worked incredibly well. It allowed Harry to see where he had gone wrong.
Enough about Harry Potter.
And I wrote. I’m going through the beginning of Shifting Mars Sands to tweak it into reading faster. Looking at it again, I feel the beginning was overwritten. There were too many unnecessary details (details for the sake of details) and the language was overly flowery. Simplifying the language and sentence structure is making it read quicker.
I stepped completely outside my comfort zone and wrote song lyrics, which I had the Saturday writers’ group provide feedback. Their feedback was invaluable. It’ll allow me to use a stronger version in the story.
I’ve known for months that I needed snippets of lyrics for a Morgana to sing to Ryan who’s in a coma. The idea is that he’ll hear them and they’ll help (along with recognizing her voice) pull him out of it. There is more going on in this scene and the surrounding ones, especially for Morgana. Needless to say, I want just the right lyrics.
I considered classic rock, pop, and alternative songs. I have several problems with this, though. First, I’ll need to quote quite a bit of the lyrics, which is beyond fair use, at least my understanding, anyway. Second, the lyrics must have meaning to the characters and situation. Third, the story is set in 2069, and I couldn’t get past the question of why a character in my story would use a song from the 1970’s (1980’s, 2000’s–it doesn’t matter). For it to fit, the song would have to be super well-known, and that brings the second issue into play. If it’s obscure (which can solve the second issue), then how does the character know such an old song? Regardless, the first issue remains in play.
The logical answer is to write the lyrics myself. The only flaw with the “logical” answer is that poetry (or something approaching poetry) isn’t in my wheelhouse. Can I write around it? I could. But having Morgana talk him out of the coma is boring. Having him her sing for the first time lyrics that are meaningful is much better. I want to progress as a writer, and writing these lyrics is part of the deal.
I did it now, in part, because the writers’ group needed something to critique–we had open submissions slots for Saturday. Mostly, though, a new person, A, recently joined the group. A writes poetry that is accessible, powerful, and honest. Aactually inspired me to take the plunge. For whatever reason, I felt like I could make a reasonable draft. Of course, I wanted to get A’s take on the lyrics. Not only did A provide good advice, Agave some thoughts on subsequent scene to make it more impactful.
Plus, procrastination was quickly becoming a non-option. I’m rapidly coming to the scene where the lyrics are needed.
So, Thanksgiving weekend ended up being what I needed.
I’m interested in many things, from Mars to space travel, music to books, movies to creating my own stories. My sci-fi novel, The Music of Mars, is available now.