Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What to Do, What to Do....

Sorry for the long absence. It's been a rather brutal month on the day job, with both a draft of my chapter for the school's self-study and midterm grades due. Unfortunately, when I turned in my chapter draft, I was informed that it was too long and needs to be cut in half (and I wasn't even completely finished yet!). So I am still chained to that task.

It's spring break this week, and yesterday our family took a little jaunt to Memphis, TN, to look at a college our son is interested in attending (if he can get enough scholarship money). While we were on the campus, he wanted to ditch us so he could look around on his own without parents and a younger sister tagging along (how uncool!). So my husband, my daughter, and I made a stop at the library, where I made a stop in the Special Collections department, thinking I might pick up some tidbit of research to help me in writing my novel. The attendant quickly produced two books in response to my vague request for "anything about the history of Nashville or Memphis in the early 1820s."

One of those books was quite useful in the brief time I had to spend looking. It had a chapter on the Tennessee frontier (although "frontier" was about 25 years earlier than my story). One of the pieces of information I found was that at house or barn raisings, the men would pile together all the scraps and branches from the trees used to make the building. Then they set it on fire, and the light was enough to illuminate the area for dancing.

Ooops....in the first chapter of my book, I have a barn raising and a dance, but I had always mentally pictured the dance as happening inside the new barn. After reading the book in Special Collections, though, it makes perfect sense to me that the dance would be outside the barn. For one thing, there would be more room, and for another, there really wouldn't be any good way to have light in the barn (I don't think the people in this story would have money enough to illuminate the barn with lanterns; I guess I was assuming they would use torches or something, which I now realize would be very dangerous inside a small space with lots of people, including a number who had been drinking....) Ok, so I move the dance outside, right?

The problem is, there is a key plot point that involves the main character leaving the barn to get away from someone, and a whole scene that happens outside where other people won't observe it. It's very important that it happen away from other people. If the dance is outside, how on earth could that scene happen without someone seeing it?

Since discovering that discrepancy, I've gone back and forth about what to do. I thought I was at the point where I didn't need to make any more edits (really, though, will that point EVER come?!!), so part of me says, "Just forget it--your readers will never notice." Another part of me says that's just sheer laziness, and I need to rewrite because someone will notice, and even if no one does, I will know it's wrong, and I'll never be happy with it again. I know which side will win...I'm going right now to wash some dishes and see if I can figure a plausible way to have both the dancing and the important scene outside......wish me luck (or better yet, give me advice, ha ha!).


Ephemera said...

That is so funny! See, I always pictured it in my head that the dance WAS outside! I never even caught that someone left the barn to get away. I just figured that person sort of blended back into the crowd and disappeared into the shadows. Now does that mean I wasn't paying attention?

Augustina Peach said...

Interesting...I guess it's true what I read once: There's the story you write, and there's the story that's read, and they aren't necessarily the same thing.

I managed to set the whole scene outside without a lot of trouble, so now I am happier with it. Also, you will be glad to know Sarah is once again a Quaker (also a pretty easy fix)! :D

Ephemera said...

Re: Sarah -- You've made my day!!!! But I suppose they still have kids, huh. Can't talk you out of that one? LOL

Augustina Peach said...

Nope, the kids stay. : ) Why do you not like them?

Ephemera said...

It's not that I don't like them...remember they didn't have any kids when I first met them, and Sarah seemed sad about that, and was still trying to be encouraging to Maggie in her relationship with John David. It's just how she was when I got to know her and it seemed strange when you changed all of that. Now that she's Quaker again, she will probably be more like the Sarah I used to know! Ha ha ha ha ha