Thursday, January 27, 2005

Back from the Dead

Okay, I wasn't dead, but I did take a few days off at the conference.

Tonight I worked on the chapter where David Graham checks into his hotel. The chapter needs work - as do all of them. Like the others, this one suffers from a lack of motivation: Graham is just doing stuff. I've made a note to have Graham purposefully seek out the park where the revival meeting will be held as opposed to just stumbling upon it.

The chapter also marks the first instance of what seems to be the book's theme: the difference between the outward appearance and the true nature of things (you thought it was about revival? don't be silly; that's just there for the zombies). Graham expects Ma Carter's Boarding House to be a seedy dive; instead it's a bed & breakfast in an immaculate Victorian house.

I'm currently reading a book on revising fiction and it asks "Have you appropriately used contrast" and other writerly questions. Imagine my surprise when - lo and behold - I found Graham reviewing his expectations for the boarding house furnishings: "...and a dresser only wide enough to hold change, keys ... and a long black plastic comb with several missing teeth" followed two paragraphs later by a description of the actual boarding house: "An immaculate emerald lawn spread out in front of it, surrounded by a white picket fence."

The contrast between the seedy comb and the picket fence (and expectation v. reality) is the kind of thing the book was talking about ... and it was in my story without even trying.