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A Consultation with Dr. Words

October 20, 2011

Sometimes it helps me to get my problems with the story down on paper. And sometimes, I get help from a dude who thinks he has it all figured out for me. His name is Dr. Words, but he’s from Austria, so if you asked him his name he’d tell you it was ‘Doktor Virtz.’

“Are you listening Dr. Words? You are? Do you have your notebook ready?” Dr. Words reaches for his clipboard, and pushes his half-moon glasses up his nose. With the size of that nose it’s a long way for them to slide.

I begin. “So, I think I’m getting anxious to be done with the Tempest’s Serenade block revision. I have about 20k words to go, which sounds like a lot, until I consider that I am at 63k words so far. That means I’ve already hand-written and hunted and pasted down more than sixty thousand words from my manuscript. I’ve flown through it sometimes, and sometimes I’ve crawled. I don’t even remember how often. Even when I have a good day I can be sure that the next scene I have to face down will present another challenge. I’m getting tired of that challenge, and with everything I’m trying to fix, new solutions are eluding me.”

“Vat kind of solutions?” asks Dr. Words. He sounds a bit sassy today; maybe he needs that second cup of coffee. His mug, embossed with the name Universtät Wien, sits next to him on the worn oak, dark stained, table, along with a stack of old yellow-paged books. In German of course.

“Well.” I sigh and fold my hands over my chest. I am lying on the couch staring at the ceiling, thinking Dr. Words needs to get a cleaning lady for those cobwebs. “I feel as if Nick needs to understand more about what haunts him and why Libra is the answer to that. He needs to be more afraid, when I have painted him as fearless.

“So, zen, you should make him afraid, should you not?” Dr. Words asks.

“The thing is,” I continue,” I don’t want him to be afraid of anything. He is my rock when I am sad, and when I despair that my life will ever have meaning I turn to him and he makes me smile. He plays me music that lifts my spirits. He shows me the blue sky, and throws pillowy cumulus clouds into it to reassure me that there is indeed such a thing as true love. Everlasting love. He assures me that what I have achieved in my own marriage is something worthwhile and that the love I have shown and stayed true to means something. If he falters, I must question my own choices.

So, Dr. Words,  I need him to be strong for me.”

“I see,” says Dr. Words. “So you vant your character not to be a-fraid? But zen, vhere is your story?”

“Can I have Nick show his fear, admit to his fear to himself? Or could he never admit to fear, but merely take the action to keep himself safe?”

Dr. Words shifts in his overstuffed wing-back barcalounger, a chair that looks way too comfortable for someone who should be paying attention.  “You might have to do zat. Have you made any progress on za plotting?”

“The plotting problems are better, much better, than they were in first draft, but I still have some holes. I feel as if I need to go over the conflict tracker sheets again to strengthen it. I hated the conflict tracker sheets, but am doing them anyway because I did like what I ended up with. I’ll set a timer and see what happens. I feel it needs to be smoothed out, and that I might come up with some solutions in the process.”

I ramble on, “Maybe I need to just press ahead. But twenty thousand words seems like soooo many words though to be lost in the woods for. Maybe I won’t be lost for the whole time though. Maybe a solution will present itself.

Help me, Dr. Words.”

I think Dr. Words has fallen asleep. I prod him with my finger and he jerks awake.

“Vat?” he says.”Yes, zat is what you should do.”

“Do what?”

“Keep going and get back to me next veek and see if things haven’t improved.”

“And if they haven’t?”

“Maybe slow down a bit, and vork on something else? HTTS maybe, or Dragon’s Milk. Zat story zeems to have a lot of potential.”

“So you’re saying give up on this one?”

He puzzles over his clipboard, and scribbles a few notes. “Perhaps.”

“But I love Tempest’s with all my heart.  I don’t ever want to stop until I get it right.”

Dr. Words is nodding, and I’m not sure if it’s because sleep beckons or because I am right. In any case, he’s a great listener. I know what I have to do next.

(Image courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian @ stock.xchange)


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