Cheeseburger Gothic

The end is nigh

Posted November 3 into Writing by John Birmingham

I'm about to delete a chapter that I spent most of yesterday writing. A chapter I was pretty pleased with too. It's unavoidable. Having intricately plotted out the final act of A Girl in Time, I was walking my dog this morning when I realised there was a simpler, more elegant way of bringing all of the story threads together. I hate that.
It's taken me an hour this morning, of muttering under my breath, stalking around the house, cursing myself, but I finally got to a point where I can do what needs to be done.
Delete the chapter, and rewrite it to set up the simpler, more elegant finale.
As much as it will hurt cutting out those 3000 words, it'll save me somewhere between eight and ten thousand words by the time I'm done. I originally planned for this book to top out at 90K. It was heading towards 100,000 as of yesterday.
Hopefully, this means I'll have Act 3 ready for beta late on Friday.

12 Responses to ‘The end is nigh’

Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted November 3
Save the material. Might be useful for recycle later.

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insomniac mumbles...

Posted November 3
Serendipity is a wonderful thing

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Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 3
Could be a good deleted-scenes or alternative ending easter egg on the DVD extras.

Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted November 3
There is a lot of that laying around, Dave.

Dave W would have you know...

Posted November 3
The Director's Cut, double dvd special edition?

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon mutters...

Posted November 3
On a purely selfish note: Friday is perfect for me. Driving the fam up your way(ish) to Southport to see in laws for a couple of days. Never has there been better timing :)

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BostonJoe puts forth...

Posted November 3
I second the deleted scenes idea.

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w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 3
Once again, the 'in the moment' zen of a canine brings clarity. Don't forget to mention your dog on the acknowledgements page.

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WarDog reckons...

Posted November 3
I often have the same experience when coding.

A good step away from the project (or a night of sleep/alcohol) and the fresh perspective turns mountains into gold plated molehills.

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Rhino would have you know...

Posted November 4
Elegant Ending = Introduction of The Rhino. I figured as much.

Can't wait to see this ... very curious as to where this is going.

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DarrenBloomfield reckons...

Posted November 4
Put it up, put it up, PUT. IT. UUUUUUUUPPPPP!!!!

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Gutz ducks in to say...

Posted November 12
I just hope that walking your sometime disappearing dog has not given you pause on how you treat your disappearing characters. lest a large portion of the narrative given to never to be seen again instruments of assistance. Bruce from unit 38 ' i am sure he was here with my Fifi.!, wont our children be gorgeous!! ' all that superfluous rubbish can become cannon fodder Wendy!!

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A note about cussing

Posted October 31 by John Birmingham

Those involved in beta reading A Girl in Time will have seen that Act 2, told from Marshal Smith's point of view, uses the old 19th century device for dealing with coarse language.

It f------g blanks it out.

It only ever f------g does that when we're in Smith's PoV.

With Cady, it's clusterfuckturduckens all the way down.

I'm still in two minds about this. I really like it as a device for colouring Smith's character. But I'm not sure whether it's too much.

I'm happy to take feedback.

(Alphas, try to avoid spoilers if replying here.)

29 Responses to ‘A note about cussing’

Dave W would have you know...

Posted October 31
Wouldn't a character who is prudish enough to warrant hyphening out be more likely to just 'gosh' 'heck' and 'jeepers' their language?

Rmitch0118 has opinions thus...

Posted October 31
My granddad used to say "gol darned" and "dad gum". Not sure if it is Victorian, but it is definitely redneck.

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insomniac mutters...

Posted October 31
I think having Cady's cussing blanked out helps highlight the actual cussing Smith does later so it should stay.
My issue is with the dashes. I know what you said before about 2 for 4 & 3 for 6 but all I see in the above are 6 dashes plus the two letters in what is a seven letter word which makes it look strange.

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Barnesm would have you know...

Posted October 31
fu'k it

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Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted October 31
Either use the word, or don't. Don't blank it out.

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DaveC asserts...

Posted October 31
Tricky. I like the idea, and it doesn't 'not' work. But it does look a bit odd.

So how would Smith interpret this in his head? Possible substitution?

Not even f------g close! That was a bull---- interference call at the end.

Might become;

Not even effing close! That was a bullspit interference call at the end.

Or some such contrivance?

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Lulu mumbles...

Posted October 31
There is also some expressive & colourful genuine Victorian cursing.

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Bondiboy66 has opinions thus...

Posted October 31
Damn your eyes!
I've just read a few Flashman books and there is a fair bit of Victorian cursing in them.

Alister Taylor mumbles...

Posted November 2
One of the Flashman books uses the same device as Marshal Smith, as its conceit is that the memoirs are edited before MacDonald Fraser gets to them by Flashman's sister-in-law.

I think it is 'Flashman and the Angel of the Lord"

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DarrenBloomfield would have you know...

Posted October 31
It sort of works it took me a little while, but then I figured out that was what you were doing. I vote that you keep it, or as others suggest, you substitute less offensive cuss words. My 5yos current favourites would suggest "what the chicken!?" Or my personal favourite "shut the front door!!".

More seriously, the other thing I humbly suggest might work for smooth running reading flow, might be to gradually change the language of Smith more broadly - start with the full on vernacular of his time, then blend it down to modern. Well still know he's speaking his language, but we'll read itas ours .

I may be being as clear as mud.

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jason has opinions thus...

Posted October 31
Might sound a little stupid but I prefer real words. When I see all the blanks or dashes it reminds me I am reading a book and not just lost in the story. I can forgive bad language or slightly uncharacteristic words as they probably won't drag me back to reality whereas the f-----g dashes surely would.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted October 31
Yeah, this is my MAJOR worry. That a simple typographical effect breaks the suspension of disbelief. And yet, W's point below is also valid.

damian asserts...

Posted October 31
I loved the thing Pratchett did with Mr. Tulip, but it's so strikingly singular you couldn't really just copy it.

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w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 31
I like the dashes. Fits in with the character and the tone. Also, possibly broadens the appeal.

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Brother PorkChop ducks in to say...

Posted October 31
If its true to the character, use it.
My Grandfather was a fan of "bally" I knew he was truly pissed off if that came out.

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ronS is gonna tell you...

Posted October 31
don't delete the letters but go with what would have been the swearing more likely used then - it will be understood as you intend

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Vovchara mumbles...

Posted November 1
as long as it's "in character" I don't care about cussing. I would even go so far as saying, JB without cussing is not JB at all :P

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Turlogh Dubh O'Brien mutters...

Posted November 1
It took me a second to get used to it, but I think it works. Smith isn't substituting words and letters, he's trying to "block" out the foul language.

insomniac reckons...

Posted November 1
It's his pov so this is what he's experiencing rather than him retelling what he heard

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Rhino swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 1
Don't like it. He tells her he doesn't like it. If this were his diary, OK, I could see it. But it isn't ... just his POV. So, it happens, he hears it, so, the words, as spoken, should be there - because they are what caused his reaction to begin with. Since it is his POV the key is his reaction and what he says to Cady about it. To do otherwise is a writing affectation that takes me out of the story.

If you wanted to show how he self censors in his own mind then maybe doing something like putting profanity in parentheses every time he thinks about what she says ... or some twist on that device ... (profanity), (lord's name in vain), (Profane Rant), etc., might work.

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JBtoo has opinions thus...

Posted November 1
I really hate blanking, it's visually awkward and literarily (!) coy. Either swear or don't swear, but don't pretend you're not swearing when you are.

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John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 1
Yeah, it looks like the nays have it.

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jl has opinions thus...

Posted November 1
My two bits- leave the swearing as Cady does it. Smith is hearing the words, and he doesn't like it. Don't need the blanks.

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WarDog ducks in to say...

Posted November 1
I like Rhino's suggestion. Subsititute (in brackets) Smith's parsing of it.

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DaveC mutters...

Posted November 1
Best reason to substitute - what the hell would the narrator say on the audio book? (Re-read For whom the bell tolls a while back - the whole way through, characters were telling each other to go obscenity themselves...)

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 1
Good point.

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Kristophr ducks in to say...

Posted November 2
Or just have him self censor his own narrative without directly quoting:

Cady narration: "Fuck you!"

Smith narration: Cady yells a foul curse.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted November 3
I've been something very much like that so far. But when narrating in Smith's PoV it was getting awkward.

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted November 3
If you watched Hard Quiz last night the ABC bleeped the 'fuck' Tom Gleeson said but missed the follow up 'pun', 'c--tstomer'

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Girl in Time, Act 2 beta is available

Posted October 26 into Writing by John Birmingham

I planned to hit Act 3 around the 60,000 word mark, but in the way of these things, it took me until 70,000 to get there.
Worth it, though.
Anybody who's reading the beta will see the change in perspective immediately. I shifted Point of View from Cady to Smith, partly to hide some of the narrative scaffolding away where nobody could see it, and partly because I wanted to spend a bit of time inside the head of my other protagonist.
Smith has a very different perspective, and a pleasingly arcane way of expressing himself.
It's now going to take me a day or or to get out of the habit of thinking like him.
Thanks to everybody who's been reading along and offering edits and suggestions. The manuscript is really tightening up. I found myself having to take a break from checking the edits yesterday because I was starting to enjoy reading the text too much.
Always a good sign.
I have the last Act sketched out, not blocked out scene by scene. The next couple of days will go towards that. I hope to have the final Act ready for beta by November 4.

10 Responses to ‘Girl in Time, Act 2 beta is available’

Steve is gonna tell you...

Posted October 26
Not related to AGiT, but thought you would be interested in the following

I was watching a new NBC series called "Timeless", as a result of some WWII time travel, the heroes get back to their present and find out about an Ian Fleming book that was not in the original timeline.

The name of the book is "Weapons of Choice", clearly one of the writers is a fan.

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 26
Hah, that is pretty cool.


John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted October 26
I am officially chuffed.

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w from brisbane mutters...

Posted October 26
I guess your family worked out you were deep into character POV when you said tea was going to be ribeye, soda biscuits and grits.

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Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted October 26
Amazing effort.

I was listing to the 'No such thing as a fish' podcast and did you know at a gala held in Agatha Christie's honor when asked how she was able to churn out so many books, Christie once called herself “a sausage machine, a perfect sausage machine.”

For many years she was on a tight schedule of two books per year, including one that was always released right before the holiday season, which was marketed as “Christie for Christmas.” Except one particularly prodigious year when she wrote four novels, a collection of short stories and two plays.

Don't know what made me think of that.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon mumbles...

Posted October 27
the school boy in me sniggers at her comparison

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DarrenBloomfield swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 27
It's a thing of beauty. I'm finding it really hard to stop reading it for pleasure and fulfilling my beta function.

Also a good sign.

Can't wait for the "who will play Them in the movie version?" Thread.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted October 27
I'm having great fun writing it.

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Don Bagert would have you know...

Posted October 29
LOL, I went to correct a typo in your post, before remembering that I'm not reading the beta ;-)

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted October 29
This made me chuckle.

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A Girl in Time Act 2 should go online tonight

Posted October 25 by John Birmingham

I'm just killin' some varmints what done ask'd fer it.

6 Responses to ‘A Girl in Time Act 2 should go online tonight’

Brother PorkChop swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 25
Waiting patiently.

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insomniac mutters...

Posted October 25
Oh man. When I saw part 2 in amongst the text I thought I was already there. Now I find that I'm not.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted October 25
Nope. ACT 2 is another 40K words. Thought I'd have it done tonight, but I want to hold onto it until tomorrow now.

Turlogh Dubh O'Brien would have you know...

Posted October 26
Game 1 of World Series AND Act 2 of AGIT tonight? I may just play the lottery.

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Oldy ducks in to say...

Posted October 28
How can I become a beta reader? I already know how much I lose my mind when I see a new Birmo at Dymocks, I can only imagine the sweet, sweet thrill of being ahead of the unruly rabble

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted October 28
I'd need to email you the invite.

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Welcome to the NBA

Posted October 24 by beeso

This week The Balls Podcast steals ideas from other sports, podcasts and primary school playgrounds and takes turns in picking teams, yes, even the New York Knicks. The only thing is, it is for beer.

Find out how The Doc and Beeso rate every team in the NBA here.

Over in After Dark land, we continue the 90s classic quirky bands theme with The Presidents of the United States of America's self titled album. Who now has the riff to Kitty in their head? We also look at Banks and Steelz, the RZA/Interpol crossover and the latest Radiohead album, which gives the Doc a chance for a Star Wars joke. Get It here and follow our favourite songs of the year on the Spotify Playlist.

4 Responses to ‘Welcome to the NBA’

Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted October 25
Basketball.


Yet another useless contribution from the Berekely on the Plains in neighboring Kansas.

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beeso asserts...

Posted October 25
Prefer slow head trauma for entertainment?

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Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted October 25
Actually, I haven't watched a sporting event of any kind for ages.


I'm generally too busy trying to earn a living.

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Lobes reckons...

Posted October 25
Not Kitty but when I hear someone namecheck Presidents of The USA I immediately think of:

Millions of peaches
Peaches for me
Millions of peaches
Peaches for free

- you're welcome

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AGIT Beta update

Posted October 21 into Writing by John Birmingham

Decided to split the upload into three. There's little reason not to let everyone have at the 1st Act later today. I have a chapter to finish writing first, but then I'll post the copy so it's avialble over the weekend.

12 Responses to ‘AGIT Beta update’

insomniac asserts...

Posted October 21
Will the master alphas still get 2 weeks for each?

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted October 21
I send it to edit on Nov 11.

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DarrenBloomfield has opinions thus...

Posted October 21
I meant to respond in earlier thread. Personally i think the drop feed works best for me as a beta reader. Lets me focus on the task assigned and not get swept up/distracted by the story!

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Don Bagert swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 24
I'm still available :)

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted October 25
Invite sent.

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DarrenBloomfield is gonna tell you...

Posted October 24
Just finished my first full sweep through.

Hats off my friend. Hats off.

jl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 25
Agreed. JB has done something completely different with this work but the effect is the same as his other books- riveting reading.

DaveC asserts...

Posted October 25
Majorly kicks arse.

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Robertkocsis swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 27
Well, I'd love to peruse this if still possible :)

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted October 27
Your invite should be in your email.

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Vallon Davis ducks in to say...

Posted November 4
Where can I access the AGIT beta post??

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