Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Nudging That NaNo Muse

oh hai iz got sumfing 2 say u gotz tyme 2 lissun?

In last night's post I talked about switching out of the POV you are using for your novel into any of the others as an exercise in warding of writer's block. So, say if like me you favor limited third person you could switch to omniscient (which I discussed yesterday) where a global perspective of your story allows you to write about any setting, character, plot point, event, examine relationships among them, muse about theme. The point is not to generate words that will stay in the story but to keep words flowing and stay open to ideas that will inform future scenes, that may resolve a sticky plot issue or give you insight into a character's motivation and personality which will make that next dialog they participate in easier to write.

Speaking of getting to know your characters. A good way is to let them, one at a time, hog the stage for a lengthy monologue to rant, whine, piss and moan, preen, brag, gossip, muse, pontificate, remember, dream etc. etc. etc. This would be first person of course and not intended to stay in the manuscript. At least not right there where you detour away from the stuck place. But I believe they are fair game for NaNo word count. Its purpose is to keep the words flowing and get to know your characters.

I had good success with this two years ago with my NaNo novel Mobile Hopes. I'm going to repost Gerta's moologue here as an example of what I mean. Note the repetition of the phrase 'I don't know why...' That was another gimmick to keep the words flowing for every time I paused to think for more than five seconds I would start a new paragraph with 'I don't know why...' The whole think took little more than half an hour and at 1300 + is less than 300 words short of a NaNo daily quota. Since then I began to keep a list of phrases like that to give a character for their monologue.

Well, here it is. I confess I did subject it to some minor editing but for the most part this is what flowed off my fingers that night two years ago.

Gerta's Rant

I don't know why I'm here. It's too hot. It's too crowded. It's too noisy. All those pops and whistles. The yammer yammer. And all those kids running and yelling. The mouths on them too. Land's sake. It's like they got not much more than a four word vocabulary and the first three are Me, I , and You. And the forth one. Land's sake my Papa woulda made em chew the bar of soap! My skin wants to crawl right off me. I don't know why I can't just go home.

I don't know why that loony Lucy picked this dress for today. Too fancy. Don't see no need for fancy on such a hot day. A day like this Augustus would say no need for a dress atall. We would walk about in our birthday suits inside our house. The house we first lived in 1932 the year we married. And every house after that. There were four more in three different states before the house he built with the help of his brothers and my father that hot summer of 68. The house the sheriff took away from me last month. I don't know why.

I don't know why I can't just up and walk on back over there. It's not that far from here. I used to walk tween here and there all the time especially on hot days like this. Bringing the kids on down to the creek to wade and splash. But that was before they put in this trailer park and the malls and all those streets and painted lines on them and put up signs and signals. Stop Go Cross Don't Cross. If Agustus were here he'd say it was time to move on. House or no house. He'd build another if he had to. In another big field with acres separating us from neighbors. I don't know why he had to go.

I don't know why I don't just join him now. It were up to me I'd a been there before now. If that looney Lucy would drive me back home I could at least be in the rooms where we used to be together. Our house had big wide windows everywhere to let in the light and the breezes. Only air conditioning we had 'sides that was a few old fans. Didn't get the new fangled cold air blowers til sometime round the time that Bedtime for Bonzo guy got to move into the White House. Remember thinking How'd a guy with a dirty monkey get to move into that nice house. Agustus would have been gobsmacked by it but he was gone by then. I don't know why I hooted and pointed at the TV that day and told Agustus to look at that monkey's uncle now.

I don't know why looney Lucy won't let me go outside. Its too hot she says. What does she know about hot? I can see those trees moving. She can't tell me a breeze like that under the wide sky wouldn't be better than the stinky one that box in her bedroom window blows through this big tin can. I just might go anyway. I can wait until she is sitting on the floor in front of that ridiculously big TV with her nose trying to sniff her own butt crack and I'll say I'm going to the bathroom but I'll go out the back door. I don't know why I need permission from a looney Pee Lotta Teas teacher anyway.

I don't know why she doesn't cut that hair of hers. I've told her and told her til my teeth bout fall out that hair like that begs to be grabbed like a rope and swung. I tell Carl nearly every night he needs to take and drag her back to the bedroom with it. I offer to cut it for him if he'd only hold her down for me. I don't know why all he does is grin and say "What a card you are Grandma."

I don't know what he thinks he knows about cards. Now his grandpa. He was a card. That man would put worms in a peanut butter sandwich and serve it to one of the kids. Tell them that eating worms was how fish got gills so they could breathe under water. Only kid who ever fell for it and actually took a bite was Carl. The last of all our babies and grandbabies. He wasn't yet three that summer. I don't know why Agustus didn't wait til he was near about Kindergarten age like with all the other kids.

I don't know why Agustus couldn't watch his mouth around the babies. I don't know how many times I told him if I had to soap one more child's tongue for something they heard him say, I was going to stuff the bar in his mouth and make him chew it. Wasn't it that same day he gave Carl the worm sandwich that I came closest to doing it too? It was the summer we were building the house. It was the day Agustus dropped the roof beam on his foot. I heard him yelling clean out to the garden where I was picking green beans for lunch. I yelled back "What you want Agustus?" and Carl who was swinging on the tire swing hung from that tall maple yelled over to me, "Grandpa says 'Frost my balls' Grandma." I don't know why I didn't drop that basket of beans.

I don't know why these teeth won't stay in my mouth. When I fall asleep in this here chair, my head hanging tween my collar bones, I often wake to find them gone. Then the great denture hunt begins. Found them tween my titties once. Found them tween the cushion and chair arm many times. Once looney Lucy found them in the cats' water dish in the kitchen. I don't know why she thinks I put them there just to get her goat.

I don't know why she dotes on those three cats like they was her own born babies. Now Agustus he liked his dogs but I never once saw him kiss one of their noses. Nor hug on em like they was one a his grandbabies. He wasn't much for cats either. Said they were too fulla themselfs. Said they held thier noses so high cause they were so fulla of it and couldn't get their noses outta the stink. Speaking of stink. They used to keep that litter box right beside the toilet. No matter how much gagging I did while in there they couldn't be convinced to find a better place for it. Not until the day anyway that I lost my lunch along with my teeth right into it. I don't know why they couldn't find a better place to move it then the floor of their room right under the window the cooler sits in.

I don't know why they make such a fuss when I go out the door. That loony Lucy thinks she's my Mama or somethin always askin 'Whatcha doin Grandma?' What's it to her what I'm doing? What's it to her if I want to go sit on the porch and watch the hummingbirds swarming the flowers? What's it to her if I want to get out the hose and water the flowers? Leave it up to her and they would wilt. Just lay their heads on the grass and die. I don't know why a grown woman can't step out the door and get the mail without answering a hundred questions.

1 tell me a story:

Bonnie Jacobs 11/10/2010 3:44 AM  

I like your "I don't know why" idea, and I like Gerta! As Carl says, she's a card.

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