With a little help from my friends

My love is accustomed to me saying to him, on an otherwise quiet and normal evening, “So, I need military advice. What is the tactically best way to…”

I have told him I should list him as a co-author, for the amount of advice he gives, and the lines I cheerfully steal from him for dialogue. He reacts about like your average housecat when offered a free bath, but that’s a different story for another time.

Recently, I was stuck down hard on a boggy middle. As in, I have to get characters from point A to point B, and I don’t know what they’re going to get up to in the middle. Another fight would be repetitive, honestly, because they just finished one.

So I took CV Walter out for Chinese buffet, and enthused over her progress on book, sympathized with her deadline (She writes for a living, so where I’m rather resigned to taking as long as I take to work my way through this book with all of its technical learning curves that I hadn’t tackled before, she has The Production Schedule (of Doom +2)), and complained about my lack of imagination on demand.

C grinned at me over a potsticker. “Downtime between action? Time for hijinks!”

I blinked, and studied the liquid ruby depths of the crab rangoon sauce. “Hmmm… Oh. Yeah!”

“There you go.”

She’d probably laugh if I told her that if she keeps that up, she’s moving from the acknowledgements to coauthor status. And then talk about tracking split royalties and why that’s a bad idea.

And yes, hijinks happened. Which ended in a disaster, which turned into an opportunity, which actually was foreshadowed earlier and fits the theme and furthers the plot…

How many of you bounce things off friends, alpha readers, or rubber ducks?

15 comments

    1. Much the same happens with me; sometimes I talk with my wife (also a writer), but mostly with my younger daughter (also also a writer [been doing NaNoWriMo since she was 11/12 {her birthday is in mid-November}]). Explaining a snag is a great way to solve it.

    2. This technique often works really well for technical problems, too, such as software development – by explaining the situation or problem, it helps you to see possible solutions.

  1. As a bouncee I’m always tickled to stimulate the creative juices of the authors I support.
    Usually with kind words such as “well that could never really happen, your solution would wind up killing everyone,” or “we really need to have an in depth discussion about how things really work in low Earth orbit!”
    And bless their hearts, they still mention me kindly in the credits.

  2. Yeah. I have a beta readers site (badly neglected just now) where they rip the scenes as I write them, guess where they’re going to go (hopeless romantics, the lot of them), and give me ideas when I’m stuck.

    1. I don’t think we’re “hopeless” at all.

      I mean, if someone wanted to chart relationships amongst major characters in the Wine of the Gods multiverse, it would be easier to tabulate those who haven’t hooked up…

  3. Warning to listeners: this is rubber duck debugging. If the writer stops in the middle and says, “Never mind,” the correct response is “Glad I could help.”

    One of my favorite ways is write a blog post about the problem. I won’t say it’s failsafe, but a lot of the time, I get an idea before I post.

  4. My love is starting to say more often “I don’t know; I haven’t seen the story so far.”
    So there is a finite number of times I can go to the well without them having read the full story so far.

  5. So far, I’ve mostly been asking questions about how things work here and at the According to Hoyt blog, and the answers have all be really useful stuff.

  6. I do, I do!!

    Major parts of my first two books were run by the denizens of ‘The Gun Counter’, a forum that was originally a spin-off from Kim du Toit’s original blog. I have also been fortunate to have some of the North Texas Troublemakers sanity check certain things.

    I have asked my family some very strange questions as well. 😎

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