Roberta Branca

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

My Dog Won’t Shut Up

In Private Musings Gone Public on January 26, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Don’t get me wrong. I love my dog. He’s a beauty, a tri-color-headed-white Sheltie. Much to tall and barrel-chested to be a purebred, but we were told by the shelter he is a purebred nonetheless.

He’s very affectionate, curling up with us on the couch, giving kisses, and jumping up to be petted. He does tend to do these things to excess, but considering Shelties are supposedly not very affectionate it’s a blessing that we were very enthusiastic about when we got him.

Over time, he’s learned the commands heel, down, come, and sit. Then there is the one command he has learned only selectively: “Quiet.” Specifically, he barks continually whenever I walk him. He barks on his way down the stairs. He barks as soon as he gets outside, perhaps to announce his presence to the world.

If the world doesn’t detect his presence on the first bark, there is a loooong 20-minute interval in which the world will find it out. Put simply, he barks and barks and barks. After ten months as his owner, there is a certain amount of shame in not being able to control his barking. True, he was an adult when we got him and it is harder to change the behaviors of an adult dog.

But he’s changed some of his barking behavior when he’s with Brendan. He will walk calmly down the stairs and remain calm if they don’t run into anybody.

Nobody can stop him if he sees another person, dog, cat, car, or butterfly. There’s some solace for me in the fact that barking is very much part of his nature.

Still . . . my dog won’t shut up.


One Draft Down . . .

In The Writing Process on January 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I had imagined that completing the first draft of my mystery novel would be a transcendent moment, perhaps spiritually transporting me to Nirvana or at least astral-projecting into a place of total peace.

Perhaps it’s better that it feels like an ordinary, good-day kind of moment. When I announced my triumph to my boyfriend, his reply was, “Good, now comes the edits.”

And he’s right. I already know I want my detective to have a stronger plot line, to balance the plot line built up around the reporter. I want tighter action scenes, with precise “staging” — somehow I just have a hard time visualizing where Person Y should be standing or sitting in relation to Person X, for example.

I also have a harder time fleshing out passages that require logical reasoning on the part of my characters. It doesn’t really surprise me that I am more comfortable with a character who acts on intuition. What does surprise me is the subtle ways in which the writing experience teaches me that. It’s like I opened a present, found my own eyeglasses in the box, and thought ,”Aha! I should have known all along these would be in here!”

Needless to say, I fall under the category of Intuitive as a personality trait. It helps stoke my imagination. As it turns out, imagination only gets you so far when crafting fiction. You have to put yourself in the shoes of every character. Then you have to observe the character from outside, regardless of whether your narrator is omniscient or not.

So, these are the primary issues I have to work on as I go back through the same river twice and try to craft a better second draft.

Hopefully, I’m up to the challenge.