Dickens, Day Two

December 18th, 2007

And now we are nine. Welcome to our newest public pantser. Cynthia Mueller is a US Army veteran living in Las Vegas, Nevada. After more than 15 years as a technical writer, she’s working on her first novel, Casual Duty, a mystery/thriller set at a remote Army post in the southeastern Arizona mountains. When the bodies of young women start turning up on the training range, Private Bridie Traynor must overcome her fear and lack of experience to help stop a killer before he kills again. Read it beginning Monday December 24 at http://anuncappedpen.blogspot.com/ And Usman is up!!!! Our man in Pakistan has cut short the creative process, closed his eyes, and jumped off the cliff, just like the rest of us. Usman has unveiled the first chapter of Capital Risks, his Dickens Challenge project, at http://reality967.livejournal.com On that note, it’s worth quoting Yoji Yamada, the most prolific screenwriter ever, with exactly 100 filmed screenplays. (About fifty of them were in the Tora-san series of movies, Japan’s most popular continuing saga.) Yamada said this:

Sometimes it is necessary to make your leap

and grow your wings on the way down.

And I don’t know about any of you, but Chapter Two is giving me fits.

20 Responses to “Dickens, Day Two”

  1. Lisa Kenney Says:

    Yeah, chapter two is giving me a little trouble too. What’s that all about Tim? I thought you said this would be easy 🙂

  2. reality Says:

    Welcome Cynthia.
    as to Chapter 2 it is giving me fits and starts. Well we were warned.
    Your man in Pakistan.

  3. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hey, Guys (is that okay with you, Lisa),

    I never said “easy.” (Music begins to swell) This is a Personal Growth Opportunity, and we can’t sharpen the spirit unless we hone it on something hard. (Violins come in) Do karate masters toughen their fists by punching feather pillows? (Clouds part and a ray of sunlight pierces downward and illuminates a single tree.) Do cosmologists fathom the origins of the universe by watching “High School Musical?” No, I say, NO. They (kettledrum) WORK and (more kettledrums) and WORK. (Chorus launches into Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”) So BUCKLE DOWN, get your HANDS DIRTY, and WORK.

    And wait till you get to chapter five.

  4. John Dishon Says:

    Chapter Two is coming along nicely. Chapter One was a struggle; I always have trouble starting.

  5. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    I sort of envy you. I can start anything. It’s continuing it that gives me problems.

    That said, I was writing my burglar book (it’s one of the two series I’m contracted for) today when the middle section of chapter two of “Counterclockwise” presented itself to me. I opened a new window and wrote about 900 words in roughly 30 minutes. That doesn’t mean they’re any good, of course, but I’ll check that tomorrow. With any luck I could finish the chapter tomorrow and give it a couple of days for the fat to rise to the top so I can fix it some before hanging it out the window for people to throw things at.

  6. Steve Says:


    I’m going to be doing a lot of revising on Chapter 2, but I still think I know where it’s going–well, to Chicago, for one thing. I just need to get him there a different way and work in the explanations of how things got the way they did.

  7. Lisa Kenney Says:

    Mine 2nd chapter is inching along — I’m going back 22 years to provide some history on how Tracy met Aaron and of course, to introduce Natalie. It’s trickier than I anticipated it would be to flash back and not get heavy handed with exposition. Back to it…sounds like Steve may be doing something similar?

  8. Lisa Kenney Says:

    Oh and Tim, I loved your explanation with accompanying soundtrack. Somehow, after I read it my mind wandered to the classic scene in Animal House when Bluto gives his speech (also accompanied by a fitting patriotic score) — “Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”

  9. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, all —

    I think many of us may be in a similar circumstance: Chapter One lays out a compelling situation in real time and introduces our lead character(s) and then CH 2 has to sort of go back and make sense of it or say, in essence, “See, here’s what’s happening.”

    I set out to introduce four women, realized it had to be five, took 1200 words on the first of them, did the multiplication and came up with s 6000-word chapter, and started cutting. So it’s sort of shaping up now, even if it’s still long, and it’s got a line I love in it: “Frank Weller had a voice that inspired confidence, even if you knew him.”

    But the main realization is that I’m going to be writing almost exclusively about women once old Talley is food for roses. And I’ve always been afraid to write women.

    And I’m doing this in public? I hope the rest of you are having at least half as much fun as I am, at least between the bouts of horrified paralysis.

  10. Wendy Ledger Says:

    Tim, that is a great line.

    All my writing this week has been in my head and jumbled cryptic notes. But I’ve been thinking a lot about it (which has made quite forgetful.) But I’ve had too much work for that precious sit down time. Hopefully I’ll have some free time this weekend to pull it together.

  11. Wendy Ledger Says:

    made me quite forgetful. See, I’m even forgetting words!!

  12. Cynthia Mueller Says:

    Due to an unscripted family emergency, I’ve been spending all my time in the hospital waiting room this week, complaining that I can’t work on my story. Then my little brother told me to write about being powerless and feeling trapped and angry — inspired by my current situation. Then that little booger had the audacity to suggest that I just might find a way to work it into my story. Duh!

  13. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, Wendy and Cynthia –

    Cynthia, I’m sorry about the family emergency — hospitals always creep me out. I can only hope all works out well. But your brother gave you a great reminder that everything is actually material.

    Wendy — you’ll pull it together when you have to, although it’smy experience that it’s a good idea to make yourself “have to” a little early, if only to give yourself time to block, freak out about it, and get over it.

    In case anyone doubts that the world gives writers material all the time, yesterday I was working in my favorite coffee house when the realization swept over me that I was going to be writing mainly about women. At that precise moment a young woman seated in the booth behind me drew a card in a guess-the-word game she and her friends were playing, and the first clue she provided was, “You hate the shoes.” The word, it eventually turned out, was “bowling.” Okay, I’m not stereotyping here, but no man in the history of the world would have picked “You hate the shoes” as a first clue to “bowling.”

    Keep going guys. You’re doing great.

  14. Jennifer Says:

    Welcome, Cynthia! Sorry to hear about your family emergency–hope everything works out there.

    And go, Usman!

    I’ve got a project deadline keeping me from sitting down to everyone’s chapters, but I’ve peeked a little (okay, a lot), and I’m amazed. You’re all something else, really.

    Great quote from Yamada, Tim. I think I may print that one out and hang it in front of this machine.

    I’m a little behind you, so I haven’t actually begun my second installment, but I’ve made sure that I know where I’m going with it when I start. Knowing how to begin a story is what trips me up, but once I get going, I’m usually all right. Of course, that’s because I have a road map, which I don’t have with this story.

    But it’s crazy good fun.

  15. Cynthia Mueller Says:

    Thanks for your good wishes, all. They worked! I brought my husband home tonight and he’s resting comfortably! Now, to sleep and tomorrow — to write! All the stuff and nonsense of the medical system: I’ll keep telling myself that it’s all material!

  16. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Glad to hear it, Cynthia. Everything is material, although that’s something I generally try to keep from friends and family.

    Finished CH2. It’s long, but not as long as it could have been. Sure are a lot of women. Now I’ll put it in the dark to ferment until I take one more pass at it, just before I put it up late Sunday night.

    How y’all coming?

  17. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Glad to hear it, Cynthia. Everything is material, although that’s something I generally try to keep from friends and family.

    Finished CH2. It’s long, but not as long as it could have been. Sure are a lot of women in it. Now I’ll put it in the dark to ferment until I take one more pass at it, just before I put it up late Sunday night.

    How y’all coming?

  18. Timothy Hallinan Says:


    Cynthia’s up with a prologue and not one, but two chapters. And Jennifer’s got her first piece up.

    And they’re both doing amazing work. Check it out, if you haven’t already.

    Damn, we’re good.

  19. Lisa Kenney Says:

    I’m still stumbling along. Swimming in treacherous flashback waters, I started out with a long narrative and I’ve been working back through it to try to bring more of it “in scene”. It’s pretty painful and I have to admit, I am far too easily distracted these last few days, but I’m crawling along and still plan to post chapter 2 on Monday. I’m really glad for the Challenge because I would surely have set everything aside until New Years if I didn’t have a deadline. I did bake cookies, wrap a few gifts for the grandkids and get my Charlie Brown Christmas tree up today 🙂

  20. Wendy Ledger Says:

    I think I have the next part done. I’m going to look at it again tomorrow. Will post either tomorrow or Monday.

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