E12 – Scene Analysis with Leftie Aube (video, show notes, transcript)
In this episode, Miss Catherine M.H. and V.E. Griffith do a scene analysis of Leftie Aube’s second scene from her horror novel.
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V.E. Griffith 00:00:01
Welcome to the Revision Wizards podcast. I’m V. E. Griffith and I’m joined by my amazing cohost, Miss Catherine MH. This is episode twelve, and today we’re doing a scene analysis with horror author Leftie Aubé. This time, we’re working on scene two of her novel. It does come up that Miss Catherine and I have read scene one, so it gives us some insight into what’s happening, but it’s really not necessary to analyze this scene. This episode is sponsored by our amazing patrons who help us build our podcast so we can make your editing and revision process better.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:00:34
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V.E. Griffith 00:01:05
And with that, here we go with Lefty.
V.E. Griffith 00:01:05
Well, I’m VE Griffith, and Ms. Catherine MH is here. And today we’re joined by Leftie Aubé and we’re doing a scene analysis. Welcome aboard, Lefty.
Leftie Aube 00:01:20
Thank you so much for having me. I’m so happy to be here.
V.E. Griffith 00:01:24
And if you don’t mind, before we get started, would you mind giving us your pronouns?
Leftie Aube 00:01:29
Yes, it’s she and her.
V.E. Griffith 00:01:33
Great. Okay, so we have read your chapter two, I believe it is.
Leftie Aube 00:01:41
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:01:41
Wait, we did? No, I’m just kidding.
V.E. Griffith 00:01:47
Tell us a little bit about it for our listeners who haven’t had a chance to read it.
Leftie Aube 00:01:52
Yeah, so it’s like you said, the second chapter in my horror novel that I’m currently working on. So I’m doing the line editing and going back and getting awesome comments like yours to make sure it’s working great before I start querying this project. So I’m going to try to get an agent with this. So if you’ve read the first scene, which was sort of a prologue, but not really, it was the first scene. And in this first scene, we were on the point of view of a Shadow looking at Chloe protagonist arriving home with her baby after she gave birth to it. And it was a very traumatic moment for her. And we saw the Shadow tormenting her. And this second scene, it’s four months later, she’s waking up in the morning with her baby in the bed, and her husband is angry at her for still having or irritated would be a better word for her still having the baby sleep with them. They are having difficulty having the baby sleep in his crib, and she’s tired. And the only way that the baby sleeps, and therefore she sleeps, is by having the baby in the bed. So they are having an argument about it and he wants her to get some help, but she doesn’t. So that’s basically it.
V.E. Griffith 00:03:20
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:03:20
Leftie Aube 00:03:21
And she sees a shadow in the room at the end.
V.E. Griffith 00:03:28
Miss Catherine, do you want to start us off with the scene rubric and the characters?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:03:34
Sure. So we’re going to start I want to make sure I’m on the right page. So we’ll start with the characters. Right. But I think that’s what you just said.
V.E. Griffith 00:03:42
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:03:42
I have my listening ears on tonight. So we really have just two characters that are talking. We have Chloe, who is the protagonist, and her voice. You can tell when she’s talking. Her inner voice almost seems monotone to me in this chapter. And the fact that when we do get the inner voice talking from that first chapter, we know it’s the shadow thing, and we’re getting that. But anytime she seems to be thinking about anything, it’s very flatlined. So I would like to see her inner match, or at least be different from the shadows thought process and then her emotional state. We know she’s tired, we know she’s depressed, we know she’s anxious, but we don’t see too much of it. So we’re told a lot of it that she’s tired, she’s depressed, she’s anxious, but we don’t really see, like, it’s not written that it’s there. And then we have Joseph, and his voice comes across, at least to me, as very frustrated. So you can hear he’s frustrated. You can see he’s frustrated. That part lines up really smoothly, and then he just kind of seems to deflate at the end where he’s just like, okay, I’m going to work. Anything from you?
V.E. Griffith 00:05:13
Yes, both of those are pretty much right on. For Chloe, it feels like her inner voice is almost a cry for help, or at least it would be if we saw it. My interpretation also of the inner voice parts that we saw, the thoughts that we saw was that they were being injected into her by the shadow, which we know is a power the shadow has. It didn’t feel to me like Chloe really had any independent thoughts that we could see, any inner dialogue that was expressed to the reader. Any time that we dealt with what Chloe herself was feeling and not what was injected into her, it was done through telling. We didn’t see much in the way of body language. We didn’t see much in the way of her own emotional response. And we’ll go through that as we go through. But I felt like her inner voice, if we had it, would be almost a cry for help because she is so depressed and so upset.
Leftie Aube 00:06:21
I actually had a question on this because this is like a fine line that I see myself working in, because the italics, I only want them to be specifically when the shadow is injecting thoughts. Like, you got that right. And that was something I wanted to conceal at first, but I think the first scene just give it away. And I think it can be interesting that Chloe doesn’t know but the reader knows. So there’s something interesting about the reader knowing more than the character, like, creating that tension, but not to confuse the reader. I had a comment, and I’m wondering if it’s not you, VE, actually gave me this comment, but not you have the thoughts in italics. And I’ve thought saying, like, she thought because it would be, like, confusing. So that’s why I was trying in telling to give Chloe’s interiority, because I think it’s important yes, to show which I’m sure I can do more in this scene, when you were saying, like, she tells she’s tired, but we don’t feel it, I was like, that’s so real. She wakes up like she’s had a restful night of sleep when it’s not the case. So this I absolutely need to incorporate more. But how do we play with this interiority? Because we cannot show everything. We have to tell some information about the interiority of the character. So I was wondering if you had any tips on making this work more, because if I’m getting this right, this is something that maybe I didn’t manage to do well in this scene.
V.E. Griffith 00:08:03
Okay. There are two things here. The first is, if you’re going to use italics as thoughts that are injected by the shadow, you can do that, and that’s fine. There were a couple of places where you also used italics for another purpose, to just emphasize words, and I flagged those, and you need to not do that. In episode five–
Leftie Aube 00:08:30
My thoughts on that was that the reader was smart enough to make the difference between when it’s right in the middle of a paragraph of text and when it’s completely apart. But that’s just.
V.E. Griffith 00:08:46
I think most readers would get it, but I think also, as a matter of style consistency, you want to stick to one or the other just because, honestly, just for consistency’s sake. The temptation is to use italics for several different things. And the more you use it, the more you’re likely to confuse the reader.
Leftie Aube 00:09:09
I’m sure that I would use it just for those two. That’s for sure.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:09:13
I feel like that’s fine, because, like you said, you’re using it when she’s talking about something she’s like and this is what I mean. And we get that as the reader. I think readers are smarter than we give them credit for, but I know VE and I are different on that.
V.E. Griffith 00:09:33
Yeah. This is where Miss Catherine and I disagree. Back in episode five, we had a spirited discussion about that with our friend Jeff Elkins, and I’m on Jeff’s side here.
Leftie Aube 00:09:45
That’s the fun of writing. Like, there’s no right answer.
V.E. Griffith 00:09:49
It is. That’s true. The other thing that I was going to say was, well, now I have lost what I was going to say. So go ahead, Ms. Catherine.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:10:04
V.E. Griffith 00:10:05
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:10:06
I was going to say I wouldn’t put her internal thoughts in italics. You can just write them out in regular text and then be like, she thought, that’s fine. We can hold the reader’s hand through that because eventually they’ll get the hang of that italics is just during this, and when it’s used in dialogue, it means they’re emphasizing something and the reader will be able to deal with that, I feel like.
V.E. Griffith 00:10:31
Yeah, that is the direction that I was going to go. If you’re going to do internal thought or internal dialogue, where she’s arguing with herself, but the thought is not being injected by the shadow, you can use dialogue tags like she thought or not use quotation marks when she is not saying something aloud, even if it’s obvious that it’s something she might say. Without the quotation marks, it would mean that it’s a thought. So usually that’s pretty clear.
Leftie Aube 00:11:05
And we are in like third really close. So I think that sometimes we can inject thoughts just in the narrative in the way that we write it without having to think. She thought it would be clear for just how she’s thinking.
V.E. Griffith 00:11:21
Yeah, you need to watch that, especially if you have some of the shadow’s thoughts intruding as well. But, yeah, you can do it that way either with dialogue tags or just by being very clear that she is not speaking, she is thinking.
Leftie Aube 00:11:41
And about the interiority thing, did you have something to add about that?
V.E. Griffith 00:11:49
It’s just that yeah, that’s really how to do it is anytime you can engage us with anything that’s like dialogue, rather than just telling us how she feels you want to do that. I felt like Joseph in this scene was, his voice and his demeanor is one really just a frustration. He feels powerless. He recognizes that Chloe is in distress, but he feels powerless to do anything about it. And when he tries by offering suggestions, he gets rejected. And that’s dispiriting for anybody. And so his reaction at the end of the story where she rejects him and she almost is nasty to him in her depression, and he just sort of shrugs and goes, okay, I’m out the door. I get that. And to me, that was a real reaction, not an affectation or not something…that is something that a character in that position I felt like would do. Okay, next section up is protagonist external wants, Catherine.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:13:09
She wants to rest. And that’s borderline good to excellent, because we get that. She states it several times. She just wants to sleep. And quite a few of my friends are first time moms, and they mention that all the time. Anytime I’m like. Can I watch your baby? They’re like, yes, I just want a nap. So I feel like that was clearly understood. Yeah, she desperately needs some sleep.
Leftie Aube 00:13:39
We can see that it comes from personal experience.
V.E. Griffith 00:13:44
Yeah, for a while I had three kids under the age of two, and I get that, too. The other thing that I observed is that she wants Joseph to understand what she’s facing, and he doesn’t. And that is a source of stress for her. His confusion and lack of understanding really bothers her a lot, and she would like to not have that problem anymore.
Leftie Aube 00:14:10
No, I think that’s exactly what I wanted to accomplish with this, and I’m glad it’s being read this way.
V.E. Griffith 00:14:21
Yeah. In terms of her internal desires, I felt like her internal desire is to be loved and understood, and she’s not getting that because, again, of Joseph’s not understanding the position that she’s in and how the baby is behaving and how it’s affecting her. In this case, the internal desires and the external desires match very closely because of the situation that Chloe is in.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:14:50
Yeah. I have it marked down as she needs help. Whether she realizes or even wants to accept the fact that she needs help, she needs help, and that’s the internal desires to have somebody actually help her.
Leftie Aube 00:15:05
That’s actually one of the growth of the novel, is her getting to understand that asking for help and getting help is not a sign of weakness. It’s not something bad. It’s actually something that’s going to help you. And being vulnerable and telling how you feel, that’s actually a good thing. So that’s why she’s not doing it, and that’s why Joseph doesn’t understand, because she doesn’t say how she feels.
V.E. Griffith 00:15:35
Catherine, what about Joseph’s external wants as the force of antagonism here?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:15:42
Yeah, as a reader, I personally really dislike him. Like, he bothers me. He pisses me off. He is not my favorite person. I’m already voting him off the ship if we had one. Like, he can go. But I feel like his external want is for things to go back to the way they were. And honestly, it’s never going to happen because you have a baby now. Like, there’s a child, things are different, and he just wants it to go back to how it was. But he seems almost self centered to me. In this chapter. He’s slamming doors even though he knows there’s a baby in the room. He’s like, hey, we haven’t had sex in a while. And she’s like, um, went through labor, had a C section, baby won’t shut up and I can’t sleep, like, no. So it just seems like he wants things to be back to very quickly, how they used to be.
V.E. Griffith 00:16:50
I tend to agree with that. He wants something resembling a normal life. The other thing that he wants is for Chloe to be happy, and he doesn’t understand why she’s not. And that causes him frustration, which in turn causes friction between the characters. And having been in this position myself, I really get that from his point of view. And I think from my experience, it wouldn’t necessarily be so much that he wants life to go back to normal the way it was before Ava. That’s the baby’s name, before Ava arrived. But he wants some kind of settling down. Obviously, Ava is going to be in the routine, and the routine is going to change, but he wants a routine, and he does not have that right now.
Leftie Aube 00:17:40
Yes, I’m wondering Catherine, like, I wanted him to appear like he cared for her and he wanted to help her, but his frustration came from the fact that everything he’s trying to do to get the situation better, she’s not responding. So he’s like, you can only help someone as far as they want to help themselves. And so I’m wondering if there would be a way in the scene that it would be more likable. Because, of course, we are deeply into Chloe’s point of view, and she’s really irritated with him. So of course he comes out as irritating. But I still want the reader to get a bit like V.E. got, that he cares for her and he wants her to be happy, and he wants the situation to get better, but he doesn’t know how to do that. So would there be a way for you to make that clear, maybe? but he’s really frustrated. Like, they are having those conversations for four months. That’s why he’s slamming door. This conversation had to happen, like, too many times, and he just can’t have it anymore because she’s not acting differently. She’s constantly acting the same way again and again and again.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:18:57
Yeah, I think that goes into what I feel like his internal desire is, and it’s to be needed. And right now, she’s not needing him, it seems. So he’s frustrated with that. And I feel like as the chapters go on, you’ll see more of that, but right now, it is strictly her point of view. She’s seeing it as he’s coming at me, he’s telling our business to other people. He doesn’t believe in me. And I feel like that’s coming across from her point of view. Fine. And just like me personally, I’m like, I don’t like this character. But I feel like that’s how she also is feeling, too, where she’s like, I don’t want to deal with you anymore. Yes, go to work. Even though I need help, I just can’t deal with you either. One thing at a time. And the baby is the one thing I can handle-ish right now.
Leftie Aube 00:19:53
And actually in the third scene, we see the mother-in-law, and Chloe catches the conversation between her mother-in-law and Joseph, where she is like, oh, my God, this place is so horrible. It’s messy. You’re all depressed. You had a baby, not cancer, so why is it this way? And he actually defends her, and he says, we need to give them some time. So it’s my way of showing that he really cares for her and she’s happy to hear that. She’s like, okay, maybe he gets it a bit.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:20:21
And I feel like that would be a good branch from this, because right now, like, me as the reader would be seeing this and being like, man, self centered a bit, and then you’re realizing he was just, like, super frustrated. And when you’re angry, you just say stuff sometimes, and that’s coming across well.
Leftie Aube 00:20:39
Great. So I think I have the perfect next scene for that.
V.E. Griffith 00:20:45
Yes. And I felt like he was a sympathetic character within his limits. I understand his frustration because of my own personal experience, and I read very clearly that this was a conversation that they had had over and over and over again. And I know that when we have those repeated conversations in that same argument over and over and over again, we get frustrated with how it goes because it doesn’t change, and that makes everybody angry. So I thought that came through loud and clear. And I rated both the development of internal desires and external needs to be excellent if we’re looking at the rubric.
Leftie Aube 00:21:34
So the dads will see themselves too, in this book?
V.E. Griffith 00:21:39
I think so. I saw my own experience in him. Yeah, absolutely. And I saw a reflection of what I remember her experience being as well. And now, 20 years on, I have I hope better perspective on it. But yeah, this is what life can be like when you have a newborn.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:22:09
I can’t wait to look forward to it, guys. I don’t have kids yet, but I will hopefully someday.
Leftie Aube 00:22:17
It’s both magical and horrible all at the same time.
V.E. Griffith 00:22:22
Yeah, we wouldn’t trade it, but it’s terrible. Exactly.
Leftie Aube 00:22:26
You cry of joy and of utter pain all at the same day. Exactly.
V.E. Griffith 00:22:34
All right, Miss Catherine, what’s the conflict here? How are we doing on conflict?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:22:39
The conflict is interesting because of the way the chapter is structured. It takes a while to realize that the conflict isn’t the fact that they’re trying to have a conversation, it’s the fact that the baby’s in the bed. And that stated very early on. But I feel like that’s what the conflict was. The baby was the last straw that he could handle before he starts slamming drawers, even though there’s a sleeping baby. But that, I think, is the conflict of the story. And it takes almost a page, I felt, to realize that that was the conflict. And it wasn’t that she was like, hey, what’s going on? It was this past of, hey, the baby has been in the bed. Hey, I don’t want the baby in the bed. Why won’t you wake me up? And bam, I wake up and the baby is back in the bed again. So I feel that was the conflict, was the fact that the baby was there. So I have it marked pretty low on the Rubric, just because of the amount of what’s the word I’m looking for, how long it took to figure out that was the conflict.
V.E. Griffith 00:23:55
I went kind of a different direction. I noticed that there is both a story level conflict here and there’s a scene level conflict, the story level conflict is going to be the struggle between the shadow and Chloe. That’s real, straightforward and simple to me. And now that we’re having read chapter one, now that we’re in chapter two, going into the story from Chloe’s point of view, it just makes sense. That’s where the story is going. The scene level conflict here seemed to me to be her irritation and resentment of both Ava and Joseph, both the baby and her husband, the baby because she won’t sleep, and Joseph because he doesn’t get it. I felt like what she could do about it, setting up her choices for the next section of the Rubric was unclear, given how fatigued and how depressed she is. Because when you’re that depressed, and I’ve been that depressed, when you are that depressed, sometimes existing is all you can manage. She struck me as being in that spot. So she has this conflict. But the problem that I had with it was that her physical and mental state was such that she couldn’t get out of it. Not that it’s like an inciting incident doesn’t push her out of her day to day, because right now her day to day is so depressed and her depression is so deep that she can’t be pushed out of it short of something really extraordinary happening that didn’t happen.
Leftie Aube 00:23:55
In scene three.
V.E. Griffith 00:23:55
Okay, well, the thing that I would say about that is if it’s not till scene four, five, six, that’s not fast enough. It may need to happen in the first couple of yeah, okay. I mean, it may need to happen in the first couple of scenes just for you to be able to grab the reader’s interest, you know? And so you need to think about that is that your story may not necessarily the way it’s written. It may not occur chronologically. Let me rephrase that. You may not present it to the reader chronologically so that your inciting incident is very early in the story, so that you can grab them so you can grab the reader and then sprinkle in backstory or sprinkle in her depression later, maybe in a therapy session, maybe I don’t know how to do it. I mean, some of that is up to the author, but go ahead, Catherine.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:26:55
And I disagree with you. I feel like that inciting incident happened in that first chapter. She had a baby. Like, your entire world just shifted, and now we are getting more of the backstory of what this life is like with having a baby. So I feel that that inciting incident has already happened for me, anyway. Like, that first chapter grabbed my attention.
V.E. Griffith 00:27:21
I think the first chapter grabbed my attention, but what grabbed it for me was the shadow. It wasn’t Chloe. So we were in the shadows point of view, and I liked the shadow. I thought the shadow is a cool character. I was not enthralled by Chloe, and I’m still not. I understand where she’s at, but I identify more with the shadow and more with Joseph than I do with Chloe.
Leftie Aube 00:27:50
Okay, just about that. So there’s actually two scenes. So there’s this scene, there’s another one, and then the one after that. So scene five, this is scene two. Scene five is the big inciting incident of the horror story where the babies get switched. So that’s basically what happens. Yeah. And the baby changed, like, overnight. It doesn’t sleep, it doesn’t smile. Our life is better, but it’s worse, actually. So that’s what happened. Like, two chapters of that. So it’s just the period of time. And you’re right, like saying the inciting incident is in the first scene. So it’s when she arrives with the baby that’s what makes the shadow go, oh, I could do something about that. And actually, that may be a spoiler. I don’t think it is. But the shadow keeps waking the baby up all the time, so that’s why the baby never sleeps. Was this clear or not?
V.E. Griffith 00:29:03
No, that part was clear. That was very clear.
Leftie Aube 00:29:05
Okay. Yeah, go ahead.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:29:11
I was going to say to the reader, it’s very clear what’s going on to her and Joseph. It’s probably the baby’s colic and just wants to be held all the time. And having babysat a child who was colic, that is rough. And I give it to the parents for having dealt with that, because that lasted almost four months with that little one. And she wanted to be held 24/7. That is the only way she stopped screaming.
Leftie Aube 00:29:40
So that’s actually why I told you that I got the comment of taking away the first scene. And that’s why I think the first scene is so important, because the reader understands what’s going on behind the scenes. Otherwise it would be just a mother having a hard time and baby going crazy. So it was really to keep that connection until this moment happens, when the story really starts. But saying all that now, would there be ways to make this scene? I don’t want to seem more interesting, but would there be ways? I think for you, Catherine, it was working, but for you, V.E., knowing all of this, I feel like the scene is essential, but I want to have your opinion. Knowing all of that.
V.E. Griffith 00:30:30
Well, part of it goes to the next section of the Rubric, which is the choice, and that’s the issue. This is one of those best bad choices, ones like you identified in the questions that we ask before you start the story or before you start the piece. The choices that I identified was that she could explode and confront Joseph with what’s going on, but his reaction would be very negative to that because he would feel accused and he would feel like he’s trying to do something and she is still rejecting him. The other choice is that she can retreat into her misery. And this is what she chooses she chooses. She defuses. She lets him go. She does not confront and that strikes true to me because of her depression the problem is that it is still an easy it’s the easy choice to make because her depression leads her to make that choice especially since we learned that she has lost her job. She doesn’t want to get into that confrontation and that makes sense to me the problem that I had with it was that it felt predictable because of her depression. The third choice that I thought about was that she could actually open up to him both about the job and about seeing the shadow. I don’t know how that would work for your story the other thing that occurred to me is that his reaction, given his concern about her mental health is that he would be concerned that she’s hallucinating. So I don’t know necessarily that would work in the context of your story or how it would work but that might be a thing that you could consider is that she could open up to him and see where that friction between them goes.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:32:39
So my choice was that she ran from him so she physically removes herself from the confrontation and I felt like on the scale it was more on the fair side and that’s because we know that there’s a build up but you’re telling us there’s a build up and I wasn’t getting anything from hers you’ve got a little bit of the shadow interjecting to her occasionally being like haha. Look at this thought, this here, but I felt like if you had more of a we’re seeing that build up that she’s becoming more tense. She’s getting more antsy about being near him. Talking about this. That she physically just removes herself and I feel like that choice would then be bumped up higher it’s just we’re lacking a build up to it for her to leave and then I did have a three choice section about the shadow but I’ll get to that a little later.
V.E. Griffith 00:33:44
No, I was just going to say that for choice I ranked this between fair and good so it’s not terrible but it felt to me to be reasonably predictable given her mental state.
Leftie Aube 00:34:01
Yes, for the conflict you said it was a bit long before it was clear and in the first few scenes like you really said. You said you would try so that was what I wanted to do with that the conflict would really be like the baby still being in a bed so how could that make that more clear other than with this part of dialogue?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:34:28
I swap it so you go from them talking to all of this back talk or all of this back information and I forgot they were in an argument or that they had started and then you’re thrown back into it. I would almost have her in the bed being like oh my God, I just had 4. Hours of sleep or two, whatever it was. And she’s like, yes, this has been like, I feel a little better. Because usually when you get some sleep, you probably are feeling a little better. I feel like she would probably start to have that little bit of up where she’s like, this has been really hard. You go into a bit about how the baby hasn’t been sleeping. She needs the baby near her. Something slams, she looks up and now it’s, what’s wrong?
Leftie Aube 00:35:16
And that would it be like that wouldn’t be a too slow beginning to the scene, starting it this way?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:35:25
I would condense it more where she’s talking about or like thinking of like, hey, the baby is finally asleep. It’s almost like that bubble of happiness that you get in the morning where you’re not fully awake. You’re kind of thinking things. I feel like that would be the state she would be in. And then that bubble almost gets popped when he’s slamming doors and drawers and just being like, I can’t — why do you have the baby in the bed? And everything just then from that little up she was getting goes right back down because it almost portrays that he just doesn’t believe that she’s trying to.
V.E. Griffith 00:36:09
Part of the problem that we have with the structure of this thing is that it’s basically a three page info dump on her mental state in the middle of a conversation. If you can convert that into a couple of sentences of conversation, you can get rid of three pages of info dump.
Leftie Aube 00:36:27
Yeah, you said that, but I’m thinking like, you have no choice but to sometimes dump some information in a book because I don’t feel like them saying those things would be natural. Like, they know the baby hasn’t sleep, they know it was good before, they know all of this, so they wouldn’t talk about it. But I feel like not saying any of this. The reader would not understand the conflict at hand if they didn’t know like, it’s been four months, shit is going on.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:37:03
You could have her conversing with herself. I mean, I talk to myself. She could be talking to herself, but it’s not herself she’s talking to. You could have the small interjections from the shadow and then that also sets up for the reader. This is when the shadow talks. This is how she thinks to herself. And then her kind of going back and forth being like, the baby slept, but you weren’t trying last night. You should have left the baby in the bed or like in the crib and have it like go almost back and forth and then something slamming and she’s kind of like waking up into that section. So you could do that kind of conversation.
V.E. Griffith 00:37:56
Yeah. For me, it’s not so much that we don’t need the info. I agree that we do, but I feel like the presentation needs work and if we can work it into either. Yeah, it’s all there right in the middle of a conversation. If we could work it into internal thought, if we could work it in through interjections from the shadow, if we could work it into an argument, because sometimes in an argument, we do say things that are obvious, well, I’ve been tired. Well, the baby hasn’t been sleeping well. Well, well, well. Those things do come out in an argument. And just because he knows the baby hasn’t been sleeping doesn’t mean that she’s not going to say it and hit him with it again. That’s the kind of thing that occurs to me.
Leftie Aube 00:38:49
And about the choice, I’m not really sure because those third choice, she’s not really sure that she even understands what’s going on with the shadow. So she’s absolutely not out of place to tell anyone about that. So, yeah, I’m not really sure how I could play this more powerfully.
V.E. Griffith 00:39:16
Yeah, I’m not sure necessarily that you can. And maybe that’s an idea that, as you think about it, will not work. I haven’t read the whole story, and I don’t know where you’re going with it.
Leftie Aube 00:39:30
And because of her mental state is, like you said, she’s not even, like, there to take any decision, really.
V.E. Griffith 00:39:39
Exactly. She’s barely existing at this point.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:39:45
And I have maybe a different idea on that.
Leftie Aube 00:39:48
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:39:50
I really think that having that shadow at the end should change up the consequences, and I think that her just brushing it off is the wrong way to go about it. I feel like she saw the shadow, she’s noticed it’s here. I don’t think we need to know that there’s that she’s been seeing it for a bit. I think if you pull that piece, it still has that impact of, there was something standing over my baby. And that would probably spike some adrenaline in her. She’s now holding the baby. She’s looking around the room. And I feel like she would ignore Joseph, so he’d be trying to be like, hey, I need to go.
Leftie Aube 00:40:38
Are you sure?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:40:39
And she’s like, Just go, and, like, completely dismissing him to the point where he’s like, fine, I’m leaving. Clearly you don’t want to have this conversation. But he doesn’t get that something was in the room because the dog reacted. And I’m not like I’m a mystic-y kind of person, so I’ve seen things where dogs have reacted. And when the dog reacts, my hair is on end because it wasn’t just my eyes seeing it out of the corner. It was like, something else has also seen this. Clearly something’s not right. And it would, I think, help bring in when the baby is swapped around, that she’s already noticed that something was wrong, something was near the baby. And then when you have the swap, soon, it will set off those reminders of any time she’s noticed. So I feel like if you switch that up a little bit more and play on the fact that her adrenaline just got kicked up. I mean, like, I’ve only worked with kids and occasionally when they do something and my adrenaline is kicking, I’m like, full focus on them and like, ignore my coworkers. They could be like, look at this TikTok thing. I’d be like, yeah, that’s great.
Leftie Aube 00:41:57
Actually, it’s true that I didn’t connect the shadow with the action that was been going on. It was separate in the same and yeah, I think it would be more powerful this way.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:42:10
So I feel like that’s how you can tie in that shadow to make that consequence hit more where he’s like, I need you to need me. You clearly don’t. We’re not getting into this. This isn’t working. And it does strike me as a little strange that he talks about, hey, there’s post-partum depression. You have signs and symptoms of it, but he’s willing to just walk out the door.
V.E. Griffith 00:42:41
Well, that strikes me as normal in a situation where they’ve had this discussion a hundred times before. And he’s also under time pressure because he’s the breadwinner here. Apparently he works for the government or something and he’s got to be to work on time. Look, honey, I’m sorry, you’ve got this. There are resources that will help you and we can talk about it tonight, but I got to go to work.
Leftie Aube 00:43:15
I’m glad you said that, Kathryn, because actually, because he sees that he’s going nowhere with this. Like, he mentioned in the dialogue that she should talk to her doctor because she’s going to the doctor the next day and he will actually call the doctor from his car saying, can you talk about her? Because I think she may have postpartum depression. So he will tell the doctor to tell her because he knows that she won’t. And so that’s why I thought this scene was important, because the fact that the doctor talks to her about that leads to other things. I’m glad that you came to that conclusion. That fits with what I did, actually.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:43:56
Yeah, because I was just like, that seems strange.
Leftie Aube 00:44:00
He’s thinking about something..
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:44:03
To suddenly care and then just be like, bye, sweetie, see you later for dinner.
Leftie Aube 00:44:09
But he seems that there is nothing to be done on her hand, so he’s going to do something else.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:44:16
Especially if she’s acting really weird suddenly in the room. I mean, she’s already weird, but if she’s looking around and he’s like, yeah, I’m going to go to work. I’m going to call the doctor in the car.
Leftie Aube 00:44:29
That’s super cool, actually. I’m going to put that in, that’s for sure. Yeah, that’s great. That might be like, okay. It’s not just that she’s not going well. Like, I’m afraid for sanity right now, so I need to do something. Yeah, that’s great. Okay, good.
V.E. Griffith 00:44:43
Yeah. And that does from my perspective as somebody who works a day job in the medical industry, that does strike me as something that he can do. Now, the doctor can’t talk to him, but he can talk to the doctor. So if you’re going to do that scene on the page, you need to remember that the doctor can’t really respond with more than, okay, thank you. Ethically and legally, he can’t do that because of patient privacy. But that is a direction you could go. Absolutely.
Leftie Aube 00:45:17
It’s not on the page, but that’s basically what happens. Like you say, okay, thank you for sharing me this information, and I will see. And Chloe enters the medical clinic and she’s crying, so he sees that she’s in over, and he’s like, okay, no, something’s clearly not going right here.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:45:38
I was going to ask because it is written in a different country, technically, because the maternity leave I was telling VE, that threw me. It’s been four months and she’s still on maternity leave? And I was like, wait, what? Because here in the States, it’s like three to six weeks.
Leftie Aube 00:45:58
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:45:58
So I was just like, Where are we?
Leftie Aube 00:46:02
Maybe I say it. I think in the next chapter, I clearly say that it’s Quebec City and I made it in this one.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:46:02
No, you do say it in this one.
Leftie Aube 00:46:02
Okay, great. But yeah, it’s our experience here, and we have a year long paid maternity leave, like, by the government. I don’t understand why it’s not this way in the United States. It just doesn’t compute with me. Yes, and at first, that was the discussion I had, actually, with my writing group about a book not set in the US. That I want to sell in the US. But actually, they all said, this is so much an experience from Canadian mother that I could not set it any other place. So that’s why I made it really clear that we were in Quebec, because I knew that people were going to say, what?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:46:57
Yeah, no, because I was sitting there and I was like, maternity leave? Okay, go get me in a moment. It said four months.
V.E. Griffith 00:47:06
Okay, so where are we at with the consequence? I think we’ve covered a fair amount of it, but I ranked it to be fair, because she does basically what’s easy for a depressed person to do, and it doesn’t force her out of her out of her humdrum, out of her every day. And she’s not in a position necessarily to do her own forcing. She needs an external force to get her out of where she’s at. So that was the observation that I made specifically for consequence.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:47:43
And I had it as fair because you just rush over the she’s just had a panic from seeing the shadow, and I feel like that would have had a bigger impact.
Leftie Aube 00:47:54
Yeah, but the way that the idea that she just gave and with the other reaction, I think it’s going to make it really more powerful. And also there’s a consequence, like the action from Joseph, we don’t see it, but the consequences there just we know it’s like four scenes later.
V.E. Griffith 00:48:12
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:48:13
Nice. Okay, so on to the showing versus telling.
V.E. Griffith 00:48:18
Yeah. Mechanics. I rated this to be fair. I felt like there was a great deal of telling in the scene, as we’ve already talked about. I thought all of four, five and six were all a tell. That whole thing was just a tell. And there’s a lot of passive voice that we’ll talk about in the next section as well. The question that I had here is, could this be condensed into another chapter as a short argument with Joseph before she sees the shadow and recognizes its appearance, even if she doesn’t know what it is, which then forces her out of her stupor? Does that make any sense? I’m going to take by your silence, the answer is no.
Leftie Aube 00:49:10
But we talked about it a little, like why I think we need the scene and how I can make it a little more. But what I was thinking after reading your notes was that the part where I explained a lot about the job, like, I could condense that I needed to mention that she didn’t have a job because later on, she uses this to cover another lie. And I did not want it to be like just something I put out of a hat. Like, hey, she doesn’t have a job. And I never mentioned it before, but I could just say she didn’t tell him that she didn’t have a job. I don’t have to explain it at this point in the scene. So this part, I think I’m just going to cut, and I don’t think you’re going to disagree with me, but the part about explaining what happened in the previous four months, I think we discussed that. I’m going to try to make it fit differently, like, not in the middle of a dialogue, but make it maybe more like one piece is there, one piece is there, one piece is there interacting with action. Would that be something that would work better?
V.E. Griffith 00:50:17
It depends on how you do it, yes. Okay.
Leftie Aube 00:50:26
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:50:28
I was just going to say it feels like some places just needed to be swapped in order, and then you’d be fine because then it would just smoothly go.
Leftie Aube 00:50:38
So it’s not about taking out as much as just playing with it for this part.
V.E. Griffith 00:50:45
Yeah, playing with it and looking at method of presentation or the way you present the information. Could it be internal dialogue? Could it be dialogue with Joseph? Could it be thought injected by the shadow so that it’s not as much of a tell? Okay, where are we at with passive voice?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:51:12
So as someone who writes a lot of passive voice, this was a lot of passive voice because I’m starting to learn how to pick it up myself a lot better. Thankfully, V.E. is very thankful of that as well, but it did have quite a bit, and I think changing up some of that structure then adding in that panic zone, actually showing us how she’s feeling and reacting to something will pull away or remove that passive, she was walking here, she walked there. And you’ll have that voice better, too, as an author, because that first chapter, you really get that where things are moving. And in this chapter, it’s very slow and we could get that voice back by just changing it around a little bit.
Leftie Aube 00:52:06
I’m laughing because I took so many out. Like, if you saw the first rough of this, it’s crazy. I have double the amount that I have now, so I still need to go back in, and I will.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:52:06
I feel the same.
V.E. Griffith 00:52:18
Okay. Because the big things that you can do, in my experience, to reduce the passive voice are to remove was and wasn’t and have and its derivatives and were. And between those three, you have over 50 instances in this.
Leftie Aube 00:52:40
Yes, I saw that.
V.E. Griffith 00:52:41
I was like, oh, yeah, exactly. And so that doesn’t mean necessarily you need to go to zero. Although that would be my fantasy. But anytime, in my experience, any time I can recast a sentence without the word was, and it’s not in dialogue, I’m making a more active sentence, and sometimes it’s just changing the order of the noun and the verb. It’s not any difficult thing. You don’t have to rewrite whole paragraphs. It’s just rewriting, moving the pieces of a sentence around.
Leftie Aube 00:53:20
I think that removing the big chunks of telling will just naturally take away some of the had had had because it’s like in the past.
V.E. Griffith 00:53:31
Yes, exactly. Some of these other changes will also do that.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:53:39
That brings us to sentence structure, which I thought was pretty good. Is there a language barrier for you?
Leftie Aube 00:53:49
It’s my second language.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:53:53
Okay. Because I did notice a few spots and I highlighted them where I was like, this would make sense if we flipped it just a little bit.
Leftie Aube 00:53:53
That’s completely normal.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:53:53
That’s why I marked a few of those. So other than that, I thought for the most part it was pretty good.
V.E. Griffith 00:54:08
Yeah, I rated it to be excellent. There were a few awkward word choices, and I flagged them and recast them. It’s not something that your average editor… There weren’t enough of them that your average editor would go, oh, this person really doesn’t speak English very well. I feel like your command of written English is excellent, but there are a few things that come over, that may come over from French or are just weird in English. For example, you called it the Parliament Hill, and I don’t know if that is how it’s referred to in English in Quebec.
Leftie Aube 00:54:08
V.E. Griffith 00:54:08
Leftie Aube 00:54:08
I checked. I wasn’t sure so I checked.
V.E. Griffith 00:54:08
Okay. You did okay. Because like I said in my comments, there are situations in English where we wouldn’t call it the Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. But we would call it the Eiffel Tower.
Leftie Aube 00:54:08
Yeah, exactly. It’s the same thing.
V.E. Griffith 00:54:08
It depends very much on yeah, if I got that one wrong. I’m sorry.
Leftie Aube 00:55:10
No problem. French is my main language. Like I’m pretty much a self start when it comes to English, but yeah. So sometimes I just bring on with me some phrase construction that comes from French, and I’m catching myself, like, the possession. In French, we always say the thing of this person. Like there’s no Catherine’s car. We never say that it’s the car of Catherine. So I’m bringing this on and I’m changing them so much and taking so many words out because of the French construction that takes so many words. So, yeah, I thank you if you caught some. Like, my better readers are always trying to help me with that because I’m starting to catch them, but like yeah.
V.E. Griffith 00:55:57
From what I saw, you did very well. I would not say there was an obvious tell here that this was written by somebody who speaks English as a second language. This was really pretty good. So I’m happy with it. And if I were reading it yes, exactly. If I were reading it as an editor, I wouldn’t be completely surprised that English is your second language. But I also wouldn’t be stunned if English were your first language and you were just having some grammatical construction problems. So I think it’s fine.
Leftie Aube 00:56:37
That’s so great.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:56:40
It’s the same stuff for me that I’ve noticed that I do with my dyslexia, where I’ll know the sentence in my head, and I will for somehow around the verb, and I’ll swap the two sides, and I’m like, why did I do that? Later on, I’m like, no, this way again.
Leftie Aube 00:56:56
I have it with numbers. I always write numbers completely wrong. So I got you. It’s like somewhere between the brain and the hands, like there’s something that happens that just mess it up.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:56:56
I hear you.
V.E. Griffith 00:57:13
All right, so we’ve gotten all the way through the rubric lefty. Did you have any other questions that we could go over with you or that come to mind that one of our listeners might have?
Leftie Aube 00:57:27
No, I think we pretty much covered the place that I really wanted to know. And my main question, basically is because you read about the first scene and you said you were really interested in keep on reading. Like, after the second scene, would the interest still be there?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:57:48
I think if we up the panic of the shadow, it ties in that we’ve changed points of view, but we’re still realizing that the shadow is around, and then, yes, it will still tie in that interest because reading through it, I was like, wow, he’s kind of annoying as a husband, we’re going through, hey, the shadows back. So to me, that had been a good branch.
V.E. Griffith 00:58:16
Yeah. The way it is currently written, I think the answer to that question is no. But I think that you absolutely can recast this, make the shadow more prominent, speed it up, tighten it, lose some of the passive voice and grab my attention again. I think that is absolutely possible and worth doing.
Leftie Aube 00:58:42
The statue is there. Just need a little bit more polishing again.
V.E. Griffith 00:58:47
There you go.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:58:48
V.E. Griffith 00:58:50
Take just a little bit of the rock away. Exactly. All right, so, Lefty, tell us where we can find you on the Internet.
Leftie Aube 00:59:01
So I’m mainly on Instagram. This is really where I live, where I post very often, where you can reach me easily. So I’m @leftieaube. So I’m guessing you could put, like, a little link in the show notes or something.
V.E. Griffith 00:59:14
Yes, we will.
Leftie Aube 00:59:15
And if you like writing podcasts, which you must be, since you’re listening to this, I have my own writing podcast, too, so it’s called Lefty Auby’s Writing Podcast. I know I’m super original and you can find it on all the most platform. I talk about my writing journey and I share some tips, tricks and mindset shifts that I made that helps me to keep on going towards my dream, which is to be a full time fiction writer.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:59:47
Awesome. Well, thank you.
V.E. Griffith 00:59:49
Thank you very much for sharing this.
Leftie Aube 00:59:51
And where can we find you two?
V.E. Griffith 00:59:55
You can find us together revisionwizards.com where you’ll find transcripts, show notes, the audio, as well as any additional files that we have. For example, the completed scene rubrics for Leftie’s story. You can find me separately at vegriffith.com.
Miss Catherine M.H. 01:00:16
And me at scribes-pen.com.
V.E. Griffith 01:00:20
All right, there we go. Have a good night.