Tag Archives: MTL

Post No. 200: I Am a Great Big Chicken. Bawk Bawk Bawk.

For this, my 200th post, I have a very important announcement to make:  I chickened out.  I finished the one-pass rewrite of the Chapter formerly known as 13 of Meet the Larssons today (on the train).  Attentive readers may recall that I said that finishing the rewrite of Chapter 13 (as it used to be called, before I cut the first several chapters) would be difficult because my main character was going to have a date, he was going to take a lady in whom he is romantically interested and go out for a fancy dinner.  This would be a difficult scene for me to write because the Green Eyed Siren and I have children, and while we occasionally go out for parties and other social obligations, I cannot remember the last time we simply went out to dinner.

I know that you’re thinking that I must have tremendous creative powers to write this kind of scene with so little recent experience on which to base it.  Unfortunately, my creative powers provied just slightly less tremendous than needed.  However, it occurred to me as I wrote the scene immediately before the date scene that it would be better for the plot — and for my MC, who was feeling a little too good about himself — if the lady in question were to cancel dinner.  Not permanently, and not out of any ill will toward my MC, but dinner is definitely off.

I had discovered a way out.  I may have the female lead cancel dinner three or four more times during this rewrite, because it’s more useful to the plot and it saves me from having to figure out what the hell they’d talk about over the bread sticks.

So I’m a big chicken.  There you go.  But Chapter not-13 is so totally done done donnity done, so I don’t care.  Up next:  Chapter soon-to-be-something-other-than 14!

Winter Sunday Stats #5: Surviving the Big Freeze.

It’s 8 degrees here as I start this post at a few minutes before 9, but my Dashboard weather widget says it’s going to get to 19 today.  When it breaks 20, I’m going streaking.

In the house, of course.  While everyone else is at church.  You think I’m crazy?

Junior just woke up singing “Hosty the Ho-Man,” his own version of “Frosty the Snow Man” but starting every word with the letter H.  Now it’s “Dosty the Dough-Man,” which may be more age-appropriate.

Yesterday I took the kids to the best child’s birthday party ever, for one of the girls in Unfocused Girl’s class.  The Green Eyed Siren was still sick, running what seems to be her 453rd straight day of fever, so she stayed home to rest (and post on her new blog).  Why was it the best birthday party ever?  First, the whole family was invited, which meant that Junior didn’t have to stay home and be miserable.  Second, the party started at a production of Dr. Doolittle — the girl’s parents had bought out a section of the theater — which, given our kids’ current obsession with animals, was a guaranteed hit and even kept Junior in his seat.  Finally, after the play, we all (50+ people) adjourned to girl’s parents’ lovely Italian restaurant for a full buffet dinner, including an open bar.

Let me repeat that:  a child’s birthday party, with calamari, pumpkin ravioli, and an open bar.  There were chicken nuggets and french fries, too, so even Junior had something he was willing to eat.  Not that he did, much.

I didn’t get to make much use of the bar myself because I had to drive, although if I’d realized we were going to be there for close to three hours I’d have allowed myself a glass or two of wine early on.  The only downside to the party was the length; it was a little rough on Junior, since there was no place to run around.  All in all, though, they had a great time, and I was generally able to relax.

Because the Siren felt so crummy, we had to cancel on an old college friend and her daughter.  The last time we saw them, the daughter was an infant; now they’re here for her college interview.   Instead, we watched The Librarian:  Return to King Solomon’s Mines, from the best (and only) adventure movie series where a liberal arts geek (22 university degrees!) is the hero.  The kids loved it, because it’s an Indiana Jones knock off with less gore.  It’s the second in the series — we have the third on our DVR as well, and may watch that later in the weekend.

On Writing: I haven’t gotten much done on Meet the Larssons since I posted on Thursday night.  I’m still on page 142, but there are three handwritten pages attached to it now.  I will finish rewriting this chapter eventually, but it’s a rough one.  I’m pulling out a major turning point in the original story, and instead building up later conflicts with some foreshadowing (which is what I’m in the middle of) and a dinner date that was canceled in the first draft but is going to proceed in the rewrite.  Not having gone out for a romantic dinner with the Siren in a very long time, I’m afraid that writing that scene will tax my (already limited) creativity.

I haven’t worked on “Jamie’s Story” at all this week, because I’m trying to make more headway on Meet the Larssons.  I expect to go back to it in a week or two, once I’ve gotten through this chapter.  Same with Project Hometown — I need to get back some momentum on MTL.

I am especially glad to have joined my novelists’ support discussion group this week, because the Absolute Write forums have been down for days.  I don’t spend a lot of time on the forums, but it’s the only online forum where I have spent any time at all, and I notice the lack (as have other AW bloggers, like Amy, who found the explanation — the host is having server problems, but it appears to be taking longer than expected to fix).  I got a full week’s fix of writing conversation on Monday; unfortunately, we only meet once a month.

On Running: Definitely a better week.  I got in two mid-week runs, plus a trip to the gym to lift with a 10 minute run at the end of the workout, and a Taekwondo class with both kids.  Today, I cut my run a little short, but kept the speed respectable (by my recent standards, anyway):  5.0 miles in 40:23, an 8:05 m/m pace.  The office is closed tomorrow, so I should be able to squeeze in a run tomorrow too, if I get up at a reasonable hour.  All in all, I’m moving past my slothful November and December and I’m happy with my progress.  If I can get my weekly mileage up to 20 miles per week, I’ll be even happier.  What would really make me happy would be to run outside, but it’s just too damn cold even for the winter running gear I have.  I’ll run outside at 20 degrees, but that’s about my limit.

On the iPod: I finally finished Scott Sigler‘s podiobook Earthcore, which was excellent.  In the Q&A after the last episode, he says he’s working on a sequel; this was several years ago, so I’m going to track that down next.  During my run today, I listened to I Should Be Writing #108 (interview with Grammar Girl); Grammar Girl #148 (writing your first novel) and #149 (top five pet peeves of 2008); and Writing Excuses, Season Two, Episode 14 (Writing Habits).  I had never heard of Grammar Girl before listening to Mur’s interview, so a hat tip to Mur for pointing me in her direction.  GG has a short weekly podcast, and the couple of episodes I’ve listened to so far were fun and a lot less sleep-inducing than Ms. Haggarty’s English class sophomore year of high school.

Now we’re off to The Diner for lunch:  omelettes for the Siren and me, soup and possibly a cheeseburger for Unfocused Girl, and chicken nuggets and french fries (no lettuce, no barbecue sauce, nothing on the plate other than the nuggets and fries and especially nothing green touching the beige food, please!) for Junior.  And coffee.  Lots more coffee.

Revising Meet the Larssons, Day # Who-Gives-a-Rat’s-Tokhes.

So last night I put a bullet in Chapter 13.  There will still be a chapter number 13, of course; something has to come after 12, and before 14, but it won’t be this one.  I think that of the 15 pages in the original chapter, I’ll keep maybe 5, heavily edited.

There are three points in the book that require a complete rewrite because of the changes to the story arc that I have mapped out; this chapter is the first of these points.  Once I finish the rewrite of this chapter, I’ll move more quickly for a while.  I hope.  I’m up to page 142 as of last night, and only that far because I gave up and brought pages on the train with me.

Here’s what the manuscript looks like these days:

Meet the Larssons manuscript, Jan. 15, 2009

Meet the Larssons manuscript, Jan. 15, 2009

The problem with doing so much rewriting is that I’m not sure it’s any better than what I wrote originally.

I went to a support discussion group for novelists on Monday night, which was very interesting.  It’s the fourth meeting of the group, so I was sort of coming in the middle.  I had the feeling everyone else had been an English major, which I emphatically was not, so I hadn’t read most of the books that came up in discussion.  It didn’t matter, though, and I mouthed off as blithely as I did when I hadn’t done the reading for classes in college.  It was fun to talk about writing with other writers live, face-to-face.  Not that there’s anything wrong with you people out here on the intertubes, it’s just that most of you are figments of my imagination.  The group meets once a month, and I’m already looking forward to the next meeting.

That’s it for today.  I just wanted to document that I continue to plug away.  I endure, which is more than anyone will be able to say about this ^(*&^*# novel.

Winter Sunday Stats #4: Running Out of Excuses.

It may have been a quiet week in Lake Woebegon, but there’s been nothing but utter chaos here at Stately Unfocused Manor, to mix my pop culture references.  School started!  Work kicked back into gear!  Snow!  Sleep deprivation!  People pissing me off!

And yet, I managed to make a little progress on the things that keep me sane.  It’s time to stop kvetching every week about how busy I am, how I need to do paying work, spend time with the children, and make occasional eye contact with the Green Eyed Siren (f/k/a Mrs. Unfocused) so she doesn’t mistakenly call the morgue to have me carted away, and get back to regular writing and running again; otherwise, I may as well plant my ass on the sofa, open up the chips and start watching television again.  Anything good on?  Are reality shows still big?

On Writing: I bled all over revised another 15 pages of Meet the Larssons (through page 125/500), and hand wrote another seven pages to be inserted.  All that, and I’m still working on what used to be Chapter 11, because apparently it was way to damn long.  I’m still using Holly Lisle’s One-Step Revision Process, and it is going much more slowly than I would have liked.  I suspect that I should have tried to restructure the novel first, then started the rewrite.  I’m not that fond of writing by hand, either.  On the other hand, as painful as it is, the process seems to be working, albeit much more slowly than I expected.

I also wrote another 1,166 words (for a total word count of 6,094) in “Jamie’s Story,” which has gotten away from me a little bit.  I’m determined to keep it under 7,000 words — the story only needs that long to be told — but I’m certain to run over before I get the draft done.  It will need a fair amount of editing — the narrative voice is inconsistent, for one thing — so there should be an opportunity to do some cutting.

I haven’t done anything further in Project Hometown, because the spreadsheet of all the scenes needed to tell the story, which is going to require a little more thought than I’ve been able to put into it.  I plan to pick it back up when I’m done with the draft of “Jamie’s Story.”

Anyway, I’m done with the excuses.  MTL needs to get finished.  My January 31 target is out the window, so now I’m just going to gut it out as best I can.  If I need another made up deadline I’ll deal with that later.  But I need to finish the manuscript slog so I can get to the typing in (essentially the second pass of the one-pass method), and finish it.

On Running: For a number of reasons, mostly related to my inability to go to sleep at a reasonable hour (and one 7am conference call), I didn’t manage to crawl out of bed early enough to get a run in until Friday, and even then I only managed a little over 20 minutes before I had to get off the treadmill, get dressed, and shovel snow.  So yes, my excuses are (1) iggle wazums me was tired, and (2) it snowed in Chicago in January. I did run for an hour this morning on the treadmill, 7.21 miles (an average 8:19 pace, which isn’t bad considering the lack of training).

In other exercise-related news (which is what you get when I don’t have enough to say about running) Family Taekwondo started back up on Saturday, and Unfocused Girl and I (with much trepedation) took Junior along.  Over the last year, we have tried getting Junior interested in TKD half a dozen times, and each time, he would just sit on the side and mope until class was over, or actively interfere with the Green Eyed Siren’s attempts to join the class.  Finally, we just decided to give up until he turned five.  Now he’s five, and on Saturday he did a great job.  He was tired by the end, but he worked hard, paid attention, and behaved well.  We were all very proud of him.  I hope his new attitude lasts; he could use the lessons in discipline, coordination, and becoming a badass.

On the iPod: I got back to some of the usual podcasts on my ancient iPod Mini: recent episodes of Planet Money; I Should Be Writing #107 (“Goals”); Adventures in Science Fiction Publishing #71 (Bear McCreary);   Escape Pod #184 (“As Dry Leaves That Before the Wild Hurricane Fly,” a fantastic steampunk Santa story by Mur Lafferty); Escape Pod #185 (“Union Dues — All About the Sponsors,” another solid entry in the Union Dues superhero series — like all of them, it’s very dark); and Escape Pod Flash (“Standards”).

Then I stopped listening to anything else, because I finally downloaded Scott Sigler‘s first podcast novel, Earthcore, and fired it up on the Mini.  I’m not sure why I never listened to any of Scott’s novels before.  The first time I heard any of Sigler’s fiction was the piece he did for J.C. Hutchins’s Seventh Son:  Obsidian series, “Eusocial Networking,” which was gripping, scary, and left just enough to the imagination.  So far (I’m on Chapter 17) Earthcore is engrossing, and I haven’t been able to listen to anything else.  If it were a book, I would have finished it already.

That’s it for this week’s update.  Time to quit whining, drop the excuses, and get my sorry keister back to work.

Winter Sunday Stats #2: Guess I Have to Shave Tomorrow.

Sigh.  Five days off, and now back to work in the morning.  It’s been fun.  I’ll do a holiday wrap up soon, but the Unfocused family had a very nice Christmas.  Some quick stats:

On Running: Nothing today, but only because I put in 7 miles on the treadmill on Friday and 6.32 miles dodging ice and giant puddles outside on Saturday when it hit 60.  By the end of my run yesterday, the arch of my left foot was killing me, and despite Tylenol and some ice, it’s still sore.  I’m pretending it isn’t plantar fasciitis, and will try to run on the treadmill in the morning.  I’ve been slacking and it’s time to knock it off.

On the iPod: Most of the podcasters I listen to regularly seem to be on vacation for the holidays, which left me with some space on my Mini for the 9-hour audiobook Metatropolis, edited by John Scalzi.  I have listened to the stories by Jay Lake and Tobias Buckell, and I’m partway through Elizabeth Bear’s entry.  I’m enjoying it; I’ll try to post a review when I’m done.

On Writing: The usual excuses — work during the lead up to Christmas, family time during and after — abound, but I’ve gotten a little done on both of my works-in-progress since last Sunday.  I moved the needle on the revision of Meet the Larssons, if only from 107 to 110 pages revised.  Those three pages of the first draft now have eight pages of new, handwritten material sandwiched between them, though, so it’s more than it looks.  The outline of Project Hometown is up to 10,587 words.  My next step is an expanded plot synopsis, which I’ve essentially already done, so now I’m moving on to detailed character charts, although I’m not entirely sure what that means beyond figuring out the birthdays and descriptions of the main characters — I wrote up their goals, motivations, and storylines a couple of steps ago.

I’m thinking through my New Year’s goals and resolutions, and will of course post them when they’re ready, sometime around Groundhog Day.  I saw fellow Absolute Write forum denizen Jen at Scribbling has already posted her ambitious writing resolutions for 2009; maybe I’ll just copy hers, but cut everything in half.

Winter Sunday Stats #1: Brrrrrrrr.

Baby, it’s cold outside.  It was 6 below zero (Fahrenheit) at 9am when we left the house this morning for the Christmas Pageant and concert at church, 3 below when we left at 2pm, and is still 3 below now at 7:30pm.  That’s before wind chill.  We did have a salt truck come up our street last night around 11 while I was shoveling, but it has been so cold that the salt doesn’t have any effect.

Tomorrow, it’s supposed to go up to 11.  It goes to 11.

I did the world’s longest post yesterday, so I’m going to keep this short.  Here we go:

Running:  Not much lately, and none today — too much going on this morning.  Today was the Christmas Pageant at church, and Unfocused Girl gave an outstanding performance as the Archangel Gabriel (“Gabe,” to her friends, the Archangels Mike and Ralph).  It was also the annual Christmas concert, and Mrs. Unfocused was the soprano soloist; she sang Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium, and then Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, as a soloist and with the choir.  She was — as usual — mesmerizing; she’s got pipes.

Yeah, I’m bragging on my wife and daughter.  Deal – it’s my blog.

iPod: I’ve been getting an education in writing science fiction and fantasy from the Odyssey Writing Workshop podcasts.  Odyssey is a six-week residential writing program for science fiction and fantasy writers, and they’re putting a number of lectures by established authors and editors from the workshops out as podcasts.  I don’t recognize all of the speakers, but they’ve mostly been very interesting.

Writing:  Not so much.  I’ve gotten some good work on the outline of Project Hometown (almost entirely during my commute), but I’m still mired in the character synopses for the minor characters.  I haven’t gotten much done on the revisions of Meet the Larssons, because evenings have been a little jammed.  I’m still on page 107 of the original manuscript, but I’ve written several pages by hand to be inserted there, so I’ve made at least a little progress.

As a side note, Agent Kristen at Pub Rants has posted her own statistics for the last year, and they’re very impressive.  Most impressive are these two:

2
number of new clients

35,000
estimated number of queries read and responded to (and yes, that is up from last year)

Two new clients out of 35,000 queries.  She’s just one agent of course; there are 424 agents listed at the Association of Authors’ Representatives website. Still, those are intimidating odds.  Happy New Year.  Time to get back to the revisions.

Happy Hanukah, everybody!

Faster Than a Really, Really Slow Bullet.

My “pages revised” counter for Meet the Larssons has moved a whopping two pages (that’s 0.4%, for those of you playing along at home) today, from 105 to 107 pages revised out of the 500-page printed manuscript.  Revising those two pages took me over 90 minutes, because I also rewrote a page I rewrote yesterday, and wrote an additional page or so of material. It feels like I’m writing the whole book all over again.

On the new shiny object front, I made some headway on the minor character synopses and started putting together the expanded plot synopsis for Project Hometown.  The word meter looks like I added 2350 words (up to 8476) but a lot of that was cutting and pasting from earlier steps in the Snowflake Method.

Revising Meet the Larssons, Day 6: The Value of Crit Groups.

I got back to MTL tonight, but I’m so tired from going out last night and getting home late that I was only able to slog through eleven pages (87 down, 413 to go).  Of the eleven (not quite half of old chapter 10/new chapter 3), I cut four pages entirely without adding replacement text.  I’m worried that after all this cutting, I might have a very tight, well-written short story instead of a novel, but I know I have at least as much to add in the middle and end.

About six months ago, I attended my first ever writers’ critique group meeting.  I found a relatively new group through Meetup.com, signed up, and posted the chapter I slogged through on Sunday and Monday for comment at the meeting.  I had no idea what to expect, but I went into it with a fairly open mind.  I was a little concerned by the one guy who posted a forty-page memoir excerpt (we had a ten-page limit) that was all one paragraph, but based on the other samples posted his was an anomoly.

Putting aside the run-on memoir guy (who didn’t bother to read anyone else’s work in advance of the meeting), most of the other writing was pretty good, and certainly the general level of quality was about where I was or better.  The people in the group seemed perfectly nice, and respectful of each other’s feelings.  Still, I haven’t been back, and I haven’t really been able to put my finger on why.

As I’ve said before, I’m looking for new-to-me podcasts about writing and other subjects to expand my listening.  I recently saw a mention on someone else’s blog to two podcasts for writers that I hadn’t heard of before (I’m really sorry if it’s your blog — I lost track of the post and can’t find it through google — please claim credit in the comments and link to your original post).  One hasn’t put out a new episode in a couple of years; I’m listening to the back episodes now and will post about it when I’m done.

The other is Writing Excuses, in which hosts Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, Dan Wells, and other semi-regulars talk to each other and other writers about different topics of interests to writers.  Each episode is only about 15 minutes long (“Because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart!”), and they aren’t limited to science fiction or fantasy topics.  Writing Excuses is in its second season, all of which is available on iTunes or on the blog at the link above (CDs of the first season are available for sale).  Occasional problems with sound quality aside, Writing Excuses is an interesting, informative, and often funny podcast.  The hosts are younger writers (well, younger than me, anyway) at different stages of their careers (some are just beginning to earn a living by their writing, while Sanderson is very well known and just took over the Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series).

In episode 5 of season 2, the Writing Excuses team discussed critique groups.  Several of the hosts talked about how important their writing groups had been to their development as authors, but one mentioned that one thing that can drive him crazy is a writing group where the participants don’t just tell you what did or didn’t work for them, but offer you suggestions on how to fix your story.

Bam!  That was exactly what was wrong with the group I tried last spring.  The leader of the group and a couple of the other attendees didn’t just want to tell me what they thought was weak, but they also had very firm ideas about how I could make it better.  And I hated their ideas.

One member of the group gave me a couple of useful notes during the meeting, then handed me a markup of my chapter at the end.  I took it home, but I was so discouraged from the meeting that I never looked at it.  The only reason I didn’t throw it away was that Mrs. Unfocused did read his comments, and said that they made sense to her.

This evening, before I got started hacking away at old chapter 10/new chapter 3, I went back and reviewed his comments on old chapter 9/new chapter 2 and compared it to my own edits from earlier this week.  As it turns out, I had come up with about half of the same edits on my own.  But the guy also noted that one two page, explanatory section read like an office memo and bored the crap out of him (he said it more nicely than that), and I had left it in the revised version of the chapter almost completely untouched.  I reread it, then reread what Holly says about this point in the One-Pass Revision Process (link is in the sidebar, under “On Writing”):  “If the scene just tells the reader about your world or its history, or lacks characters, conflict, and change, put a note in your spiral-bound notebook telling yourself which important points of worldbuilding you’re cutting, and draw a big X through the entire scene.”  So I cut it.  By itself, that one suggestion was worth the hour-plus I spent at that group meeting.  I don’t know that I’d go back — I really don’t want suggestions on how to “fix” it, but I very much appreciated the comments on what the readers did or didn’t like.

Forgive the typos — need sleep.  Just one more thing:

Saltwatch 2008-09:  Days after Dec. 1 without seeing a City of Chicago salt truck:  11.  Have you seen a salt truck?  Should we put pictures of the salt trucks on the sides of milk cartons?

Revising Meet the Larssons, Day 5: What’s the Third Pile For?

Holly Lisle describes the set up for the Manuscript Slog as requiring space for your spiral notebook and three piles:  one for the pages you haven’t reviewed yet, one for the pages you’ve reviewed and marked up, and one for the pages you’ve reviewed but haven’t made any revisions to.

So far, I only need two piles.  I reworked another 10 pages last night, and 7 more tonight — through page 76 — and I sincerely doubt I will ever need a pile for that last category.  I mean, really, if I got an entire page of MTL perfect the first time, it would be only by coincidence, the same way that if you put a monkey in front of a word processor and let him type long enough, he might turn out a page of comprehensible English.  And yes, I’m the monkey in that example.

By cutting the first eight chapters, I cut approximately 11,900 words.  As I’m editing into the meat of the book now, I worry when I cut lines or paragraphs that I’m cutting too much.  But in addition to all the cutting, I’m doing a lot of rewriting (as opposed to revising):

Selected pages from tonight's Slog.

Selected pages from tonight's Slog.

The front of page 72 - I kept the first two lines, then crossed out everything else on the page and wrote over it.

The front of page 72 - I kept the first two lines, then crossed out everything else on the page and wrote over it.

I continued onto the back of page 72, and then on to page 72.1 in my notebook -- it flows neatly into the original start to page 73.

I continued onto the back of page 72, and then on to page 72.1 in my notebook -- it flows neatly into the original start to page 73.

I do feel like my writing has improved in this past year, though, so I would hope that MTL will get better on the rewrite.  God knows, it can’t get worse.  There’s a reason this part of the process is called the Manuscript Slog:  it’s like wading through a fetid swamp, and being bitten to death my mosquitoes above the water line while leeches drain your blood below it, but in a good way.  Imagine being Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen, towing the boat and Katherine Hepburn upriver, and you’ll have some idea what I mean.  In the end, you know there will be the satisfaction of a job well done, a hearty handshake of congratulations, and a helping hand to pull off the leeches.

Which reminds me:  my first blogiversary is coming up on December 17.  Not the leeches, the feeling as though my writing has improved in this past year).  I need to prepare for My Year in Review About Me, with a very special post about me.  Please remember to stop by on Dec. 17, and leave a comment — about me, my year of blogging, whatever else you’d like to say … about me.

Here’s something about me that you’ve probably already figured out:  I am an enormous geek (enormous being the size of my geekitude, not me; I’m kind of short). Because I am an enormous geek, I am unreasonably excited that TNT has produced a new movie in The Librarian series.  The really geeky part?  This is the third one in the series, and only now are the Mrs. and I talking about whether the kids might enjoy watching it, too.

Revising Meet the Larssons, Day 3: There Will Be Blood.

I got up early this morning, went downstairs, and got back to the revisions.  I left off last night at page 6.  Pages 7 through 29:  all cut.  I made pages and pages of notes of the key points from the stuff that I’m taking out, but everything in these first 29 pages (except for two paragraphs on page 3) is just backstory.  Here’s what Holly Lisle has to say about that:
“If the scene just tells the reader about your world or its history, or lacks characters, conflict, and change, put a note in your spiral-bound notebook telling yourself which important points of worldbuilding you’re cutting, and draw a big X through the entire scene.”

And if scene after scene after scene contains nothing but backstory and description, well, the “revisions” go pretty quickly:

revday3pages

Pay no attention to the notes on a few of the pages — I started to revise, then realized the scene just needed to be cut.  The notes I’m making now will be helpful later, and soon enough I’ll get through these early scenes.  Then the real pain will start.