Okay, it’s true. I lost the dog. I was somewhere on page 350 and suddenly realized- where is Ralph? The last time I saw him was at the castle. Now that we are on the streets of Cairo, the dog is nowhere to be found.
Luckily, we are in the modern era and I was able to search the manuscript and find Ralph. I brought him home- though I would have gladly offered a search reward if I had been facing a perusal of ink-stained pages instead.
Has anyone misplaced a character before? It is amazing how lost one can get in one’s own book. I remember, during the The Ravens of Solemano editing era, while waiting for my editor to send his usual litany of detailed and ever-helpful comments, I was sent a brief email that asked if I wanted to choose a birthday or simply have a character celebrate two birthdays in a period of four months. Oops.
I think of books I’ve read in which a character simply disappears and never returns. Poor character, lost in the ether with no conclusion to bring her home. Going back through great swaths of text can sometimes be more of a challenge than putting up mental signs for a lost dog. I can search ‘Ralph’ or ‘dog’ and find him. But when there is an event that must be followed by another, it gets trickier and more challenging. When a search must be initiated Instead of whistling through pages, it is more like being a detective trying to discern who and what happened when and how. Searching requires finesse and wits, which, for me, can be a challenge to find, as well. How many hours have you spent trying to get the words right to Google a book or a film or a quotation or an event or country? The search request must done over and over until you get the wording right to call forth the information needed.
Marissa Burt’s super-awesomely helpful post, “Thoughts on Scrivener,” Monday, April 27,2015 (read it, if you have not already) struck home for me. I am surrounded by little pieces of paper with notes I can barely read, but which are desperately necessary to retain some modicum of attention to names and places, times and events. To remember who went where and when, I now have birthdays, names, histories, and spots of time on notes to myself. I plan someday to follow Marissa’s lead and move into the 21st century with virtual Post Its, but until then, I have paper to keep me on the straight and narrow.
So, with the dog safely back in the arms of his boy, I am ready to send the first draft of the third book in the Young Inventors Guild trilogy to my editor- though pressing the ‘send’ button is something I feel like offering a reward for someone else to do.