E31 – Scene Analysis with Miss Catherine and Ran
In this episode, V.E. Griffith and guest Three Story Method Editor Valerie Ihsan do a scene analysis of a short story by Miss Catherine M.H. and Ran Weingartner. The story is a reader magnet for Miss Catherine’s story Scandal’s Pen.
The Revision Wizards are at https://www.revisionwizards.com
V.E. Griffith’s website: https://www.vegriffith.com
Miss Catherine M.H.’s website: https://www.scribes-pen.com
Valerie Ihasn’s website: https://www.valerieihsan.com
Transcript at: https://revisionwizards.com/?p=2383
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:00:00
Welcome to the Revision Wizards podcast. I’m Miss Catherine MH. And I am joined by my not so dorky cohost VE Griffith.
V.E. Griffith 00:00:07
This is episode 31, and this time we’re doing a scene analysis. In a twist, our authors are Miss Catherine MH and Three Story Method Editor and Hospitable Alien Ran Weingartner.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:00:20
So this time, I get to be a guest on my own podcast. Ran and I have been writing a short story together and finally got it to the point where we’re willing to share it. And because you should always get an editor for your work, we’ve also invited previous guest and three Story Method Editor Valerie Ihsan to join us and give us her perspective on the story.
V.E. Griffith 00:00:41
One little production note on this one. Valerie had a very tight schedule, and we ran a little long, so the recording ends when she had to leave. It feels kind of abrupt, but she was kind enough to join us, so we’re happy to accommodate her schedule. And with that, here we go.
V.E. Griffith 00:00:41
All right, well, I want to thank everybody for joining us today. We have two guests this time. Valerie, if you could introduce yourself and tell us your name and your pronouns.
Valerie Ihsan 00:01:08
Hello. I’m Valerie Ihsan, and I go by she or they pronouns.
V.E. Griffith 00:01:13
Okay. And Ran?
Ran Weingartner 00:01:16
I’m Ran Weingartner. And I also go by she. They pronouns.
V.E. Griffith 00:01:20
Excellent. Okay, well, today we’re doing a scene analysis, and this time, our authors Miss Catherine MH and Ran. So we invited Valerie as a second editor because it always seems to work better when we have two opposite opinions.
Valerie Ihsan 00:01:35
So you’re assuming that my opinion will be opposite of yours?
V.E. Griffith 00:01:39
No, not at all. Maybe, but maybe, yeah. When Catherine and I tend to do these, we sometimes come to very different conclusions, and it’s a lot of fun, so I really enjoy it. But you can’t be an editor on your own scene. So there we go.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:01:55
So I’m now the guest on my own podcast.
Valerie Ihsan 00:01:59
That’s got to feel cool.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:02:01
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:02:01
It’s a little weird, but yeah.
V.E. Griffith 00:02:04
All right, Ms. Catherine, give us the thumbnail of what this scene is and what are we about to jump into?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:02:10
All right, so this is a reader magnet for my book that will be coming out soon, Scandal’s Pen, and it follows one of the side characters. Her name is Lizzie, Lizzie Milton, and it’s really her backstory as to how she becomes a really important person to our main protagonist for the book.
V.E. Griffith 00:02:37
Okay, and just briefly, Ran, how did you guys come to write this together, or what was your process on writing this?
Ran Weingartner 00:02:46
So, it’s interesting because we wanted to co write. We knew we wanted to co write, and so we got that established, but then we were like, well, what should we write? And so I had the opportunity to write really like, the backstory to a main character in a world that already exists and a character that already has a future. She’s already very well developed. So it posed some challenges in the sense that I felt like I was a guest in this world. But it was also really great because I have read Scandal’s Pen, and it’s a fantastic story and it’s also a beautiful world that I wanted to write in or write about. So that was our process. Ms. Catherine, I think you wrote the first draft, and it was very much sort of a like, this is what happens to her, because you already had, I think, her backstory in broad strokes. And then I went in and I started filling in the bits and pieces, and then it was a back and forth after that because I would come to a spot and I would be like, so actually, what is their relationship or who is this character and what is that like? And what does this describe something to me about this world, about The Factory.
Ran Weingartner 00:04:18
Ran Weingartner 00:04:21
About what it is a historical fiction, albeit a made up history steampunk. But at the same time, there’s a lot of historical accuracy that I had to learn while we were writing it.
V.E. Griffith 00:04:42
Okay, and just for full disclosure, I have also read Scandal’s Pen, and of course, Ms. Catherine wrote it. So, Valerie, you get to be the odd one out who hasn’t read it, I believe. You have not read it.
Valerie Ihsan 00:04:53
I have not read it, but I did do some coaching so I know about the story, but I haven’t personally read it, and I don’t know all the nuances. I just have the skeleton of it.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:05:11
And it’s interesting because Ran got an older version than you did.
V.E. Griffith 00:05:15
Oh, OK. All right. This should be fun. So usually I make Ms. Catherine start with characters on the scene rubric. It’s available at revisionwizards.com. But since Ms. Catherine can’t be her own editor, I’m going to ask Valerie to start and tell us about the characters.
Valerie Ihsan 00:05:36
All right. Well, in this so this is a reader magnet, you said? Yes. Is this the reader magnet that comes? Is it the cookie or is it the reader magnet? Is it coming after someone has read Scandal’s Pen or before?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:05:51
It’s going to come before. There’s going to be three stories. There’s going to be Lizzie’s, Theodore’s, and Eleanor’s.
Valerie Ihsan 00:05:57
And those will all be available on the website. Yeah, to get OK. All right. Have other editing comments that don’t relate to the scene rubric. If that’s the case, then okay. So the characters in this short story are let’s see, there’s Lizzie. She’s the main character. Did you want me to go through the whole rubric on their voice being different or just say who the characters are?
V.E. Griffith 00:06:33
Go for the whole thing.
Valerie Ihsan 00:06:34
Okay. So Lizzie and Theodore are brother and sister. Lizzie, they both speak in a heavy dialect. They seem uneducated, but Lizzie can speak without the dialect when she’s in a professional setting. So that makes me believe that she is educated in some way. There is Robert SR. And Robert Jr. Robert SR. Does not actually make an appearance in this story, but he is talked about, so I can’t really say anything about him other than he’s just this kind of imposing, doom like character in the background. Robert Jr. Is young, but he’s very cultured. He thinks that he’s in love with Lizzie. Mr. Brown and Lizzie appear at the very beginning of the story. Mr. Brown is the factory caretaker or something. I forget what his actual title is, but he’s sort of in charge at the factory. He’s very hurried, hard, very self important, kind of gross. And then the mother also, Lizzie’s mother is not in the scene, however. I mean, she kind of is. She’s there in flashback. She is currently deceased in real time, but she shows up. At least her language shows up as a memory. And then Mrs. Boyer is the last person, and she is a housekeeper at the big house. She’s very stern, also self important. So I would say those are all of the characters that show up. Oh, and Theodore. I mean, I said Theodore. He’s happy. He speaks in dialect, but he’s very happy. He’s unaware of his danger. like he just seems cheerful.
V.E. Griffith 00:08:39
He does seem cheerful, and I like him because he’s always pretty happy, and he’s always know go with the flow, kind of guy.
Valerie Ihsan 00:08:49
Yeah. I would say that Lizzie is the protagonist, obviously, and the antagonists in this story seem to me Robert SR. Off camera and also the mother in this particular story. I feel like those are the antagonists.
V.E. Griffith 00:09:10
I think our I thought that our choice of antagonist was, because of the nature of the story was somewhat I don’t even know the word I’m looking for. I don’t want to say underdeveloped that’s not the right word.
Ran Weingartner 00:09:26
V.E. Griffith 00:09:27
Ambiguous. That’s a good yes, ambiguous was somewhat ambiguous. We don’t have a single big bad guy making life know, terrible. There’s hints for me that there’s somebody in the background who is a danger to Theodore, but we don’t know who that is, and we don’t know why. And that comes from Lizzie’s mother wanting that Theodore be protected from whoever this person is that would come after them because of Theodore’s father. Having read the book, I understand what’s going on, but for a first time person, that’s going to be a big question mark. And so you could say that that outside threat is an antagonistic force as well.
Valerie Ihsan 00:10:19
That’s a good point. Yeah.
Ran Weingartner 00:10:22
So I have a question for you. For Valerie and VE. So is the force of antagonism or the antagonist strong enough in the story?
Valerie Ihsan 00:10:44
I would say definitely yes.
Ran Weingartner 00:10:47
V.E. Griffith 00:10:48
Yes. I don’t think there’s a problem with having an ambiguous antagonist at this point in the story.
Ran Weingartner 00:10:58
V.E. Griffith 00:10:59
I know that we’re at the beginning. The purpose of this exercise is to get the reader interested. This accomplishes that.
Ran Weingartner 00:11:07
Valerie Ihsan 00:11:09
I’m actually really sad that this is a reader magnet and not, like, episode one of a Vella. Because as soon as it was done, it was like I wanted to turn the page and know what was next. So knowing that this is just completely done is mildly disappointing.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:11:24
It makes me really happy because that.
Ran Weingartner 00:11:26
Makes us very happy.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:11:30
Me as an over-writer, when I sent her the skeleton, I was like, I already wrote 1000 words and our limit was no more than 5000, which is horrendously hard for me.
Valerie Ihsan 00:11:40
Yeah. Because you write 250,000 words.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:11:45
And we got it under 4000. And I was like, I can’t believe it.
V.E. Griffith 00:11:50
Yeah, you did really good on that. Okay. What is the protagonist wants? What are her external pursuits, and how well was that developed, do you think?
Valerie Ihsan 00:12:03
I think it’s just to keep her brother safe and unnoticed. I think that’s kind of her main job, according to her. So I would say because I didn’t know if this was a beginning of a story or if it was a complete story. I did say that, yes. She acquired that because she took the first step in getting a new job. So getting the new job allowed her to monitor him in a different way. In a better way, she thinks.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:12:03
V.E. Griffith 00:12:37
I tend to agree. I rated this excellent.
Valerie Ihsan 00:12:40
I did, too.
V.E. Griffith 00:12:41
Because her external pursuits are well defined. We know exactly what she wants. She tells us what she wants. Both and we understand the origin of that impetus. We understand why she wants to protect Theodore through and actually a pretty good flashback scene. So I think it works well.
Ran Weingartner 00:13:04
V.E. Griffith 00:13:06
Catherine, what do you think?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:13:10
It’s really cool because that flashback scene wasn’t in the like, that was our newest addition because we were like, we’re missing something. And that came in. And I usually hate writing flashbacks, but that one seemed to work well for us. So I’m happy that it’s hitting exactly how we want for a short story. Because, again, this is the first time I’ve ever written a short story, so I’m happy.
V.E. Griffith 00:13:41
What about her internal desires? What do we think?
Valerie Ihsan 00:13:46
I think that’s freedom from being her brother’s keeper.
Ran Weingartner 00:13:46
Valerie Ihsan 00:13:46
So I don’t think she acquired that.
V.E. Griffith 00:13:55
No, she didn’t. And I feel like I feel like that’s also. It too that she is irritated by having to do this and also irritated by him because he’s not cooperating.
Valerie Ihsan 00:14:09
Well, it’s because he doesn’t know. Part of the job was that he didn’t know.
V.E. Griffith 00:14:14
Yeah, I understand. But it can be necessary. But it can still be frustrating at the same time.
Valerie Ihsan 00:14:20
Oh, sure. Yeah.
V.E. Griffith 00:14:22
And that’s what I thought. I also rated this as excellent because for the purpose of what this writing is, it’s right where it needs to be. This one was a bullseye, too, for me. This is a really good piece of writing.
Valerie Ihsan 00:14:40
I marked it good only because I didn’t know what this piece was for. And so I was like, well, daydreaming of running away, leaving Theodore could be the internal desire, but it could be something else that I just don’t know yet. If this were, like, just episode one of a Vella, or if it were chapter one of could, the internal desire could come slightly later in a piece that was going to be longer. But now that I know that it is just standalone, then yeah, I would say I would translate it to excellent.
Ran Weingartner 00:15:23
We always try to have the wants are sort of very visible. Right. They’re very visible in the story. The character is going after something that they want. The internal needs can be a little bit more underground. Like, sometimes the character doesn’t know what they’re needing. Right.
Valerie Ihsan 00:15:47
And that’s why I marked it good because it was so clear. Like, I wish that this were happening well, because she was so aware of it, I didn’t know if it was actually the need or not. Yeah.
Ran Weingartner 00:16:02
And I’m glad to hear you say that because I wasn’t sure. We also added that piece. We added a little piece about the daydreaming piece because we didn’t feel in our first draft, we didn’t feel that her motivation was strong enough. Like the internal conflict with Lizzie wasn’t strong enough. And sort of that internal conflict is what drives the character right through the entire story. Not just this story, but further. So as she goes further and further through her story, the inability to meet her own need. Right. She always feels trapped with that need to keep her brother safe and never give in to the fact that she has needs, that she wants a life for herself right. Is something that’s really going to come to a head in her story, in her character arc. So I was glad to hear that. That came through very clearly.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:17:15
Yeah. And Ran really helped me out with that because I’ve already written Lizzie. Like, this takes place eight years before the book Lizzie’s written. I know everything that happens to Lizzie. And I was like, what are you like as a like as a teen, this is weird to go back.
Ran Weingartner 00:17:33
Yeah. We had to mine that a little bit. But I think it was like it was there already. We just had to sort of uncover what it was. Right, and it became very clear. And then once that was clear. It was just a matter of going back and saying, what was the point at which we’re calling it a want? Right. But at what point was that hammered into her as like, this is your purpose in life. You are not going to have a life of your own. You exist for one purpose and one purpose only, which is to keep your brother safe. So the trauma of that just kind of perpetuated the rest of the story. So I’m glad that that came through and I hope it carries through for the rest.
V.E. Griffith 00:18:33
I think it worked pretty well myself. I felt like the force of antagonism’s external pursuits were not well defined, because we don’t have a very clear antagonist like we discussed in context. That’s fine. So if I were to tell you that this is fair, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be anything better, because, again, because of the purpose of the story and the objective that we’re trying to achieve here, what we’re trying to do is open loops, not close them.
Ran Weingartner 00:19:13
Valerie Ihsan 00:19:16
I marked it good, because when I looked at the two different antagonists in my brain, one was mother, and she wanted Theodore’s safety. So I would say that it was easily identified. The external pursuit of the antagonist was easily identified. She was very clear. This is what your purpose is. You have to do. Um, and then as far as the Robert SR. I felt like he was the other kind of off camera antagonist, and I felt like his was unknown. But as a reader, I guessed that it was to keep the secret of Theo’s true identity. That’s what I was guessing. But I don’t know. And I felt like he did not get what he wanted then.
V.E. Griffith 00:20:12
Yeah. And I went sort of from a different angle, where, drawing on my knowledge of the rest of the story, having read the book, that the force of antagonism is not either the mother or Robert SR. Really, there’s somebody else out there. I am aware. And I was looking at it from that perspective. That person or that force is not well defined in this story, but like I said, does not need to be. We know from this story that that there’s somebody out there who wants Theodore or who wants to know Theodore’s secret or the secret somehow puts him in danger or whatever it is. But beyond that, we don’t have a good idea of who or what that person, organization, thing, magical power, whatever is.
Valerie Ihsan 00:21:07
So it sounds like for the purpose of this reader magnet, whether a reader has read the scandal’s pen or not, this part of Lizzie’s story is good regardless.
V.E. Griffith 00:21:22
Valerie Ihsan 00:21:22
Because I don’t know. I felt it was defined. Ve knows, and he said it didn’t matter, so so you’re good. Both nice.
V.E. Griffith 00:21:32
Yeah. I think it’s perfectly fine. I think it’s fine.
Valerie Ihsan 00:21:36
How about internal desire?
Ran Weingartner 00:21:39
Yeah. Before we go to that, because I think that’s a really important so the way that I was thinking about it was, this is Lizzie’s story, right? So it’s sort of the anti. Like, it’s Lizzie’s antagonist, right. She the protagonist in the story. She has a need she wants, and then there’s something blocking her from achieving at least her needs, if not her wants, in this story. And so for me, the force of antagonism for this chapter is really the mother, and the mother stands in, for you will not have a life of your own. You are barely a person right. Your entire purpose, including the use of your body, is in service to your brother. That tension, for me, is the force of antagonism. Right.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:22:46
See, that’s fascinating for me to hear. I mean, we’ve talked we went over this about five times before. We sent, like we’ve had five meetings. And to me, the antagonist was like, I saw Lizzie as her own antagonist. She is the protagonist and the antagonist, and it’s all her head. So it’s cool to see everybody be like, this was the bad guy, and this and this. And I’m like, I love you all.
Ran Weingartner 00:23:16
Yeah. The tension, the force of antagonism is really that voice inside her right. That says, no, you don’t get happiness. You have to do this. Right. And the stand in for that is her mother. Dying mother.
V.E. Griffith 00:23:36
Yeah, that makes sense. And she doesn’t get a choice about something like taking on being the nanny to this little brat. She has to do it. She has to make it work, because, you know, so and I felt like, again, the the force of antagonism, if you look at it from the perspective that Lizzie is both protagonist and antagonist, or her mother is antagonist, I think that this is really well developed. It’s excellent. If you look at it from the perspective that I was coming from, where the force of antagonism is outside everybody in the story, it doesn’t matter. We know that that force is there. But again, the purpose of this story is to open the loop. So it’s okay that we don’t know who the great satan in the background is.
Ran Weingartner 00:24:37
Well, the demon.
Valerie Ihsan 00:24:42
V.E. Griffith 00:24:43
The wizard is still behind the curtain, so I think the whole thing works very well. Okay. What is the conflict here?
Valerie Ihsan 00:24:56
Did we do the internal desire? Actually, I didn’t talk about internal desires.
V.E. Griffith 00:25:02
Do you have more? Go ahead.
Valerie Ihsan 00:25:04
Well, I think that the internal desires were just to keep secrets for both the antagonist and the protagonists. And in terms of the mother, if the mother is the antagonist, then yes, in her lifetime, she kept the secret, and she’s passed that on to Lizzie. And so far, Lizzie has also kept that secret. That was I marked that excellent. And that Robert SR. If he is the off camera antagonist for this story, then he did not get what he wanted because his desire was to not let I mean, I don’t know. I’m guessing, I guess. So if I’m guessing, then it would be his desire to not he doesn’t want anyone to know who Theo’s father is either, for whatever reason. We don’t know yet. That’s my so I don’t think that he got his need met, because the ball is rolling, and Theo is starting to get like I still marked it excellent, because it seemed very well defined to me.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:26:27
It’s interesting to me that you think that Mr. Leonard knows who Theodore is. Because he’s not supposed to in the story. Yep. Doesn’t know his importance at all.
Valerie Ihsan 00:26:42
Well, that leads me into the conflict, since VE already asked that. So I wrote the conflict as Theodore’s promotion to engineer, because that definitely caught the protagonist by surprise. Lizzie was like, Crap, this is the opposite of being invisible. No one’s supposed to notice you. And when he said that it was because he wanted to keep an eye on him, that, to me, was kind of sinister and foreboding, like, oh, he must know something then, and needs to make sure that nobody else knows anyway. So I said that the conflict was I marked it excellent because it caught the protagonist and the reader by surprise, and it also created this unavoidable situation. Now Lizzie has to completely upend her life, get a new know, rebuckle down, and keeping him safe. Yeah.
V.E. Griffith 00:27:55
I sort of went a different direction. And I have run into this with Ms. Catherine before where I think of the inciting incident and the conflict as two separate things, and they are not necessarily connected. So he gets the promotion, but the conflict remains her desire to keep him under wraps. And the conflict in this one is internal for me, but his promotion forces that internal conflict to the surface.
Valerie Ihsan 00:28:38
V.E. Griffith 00:28:39
So it’s like the inciting incident makes the conflict happen, but the inciting incident itself is not the conflict.
Valerie Ihsan 00:28:52
I agree that the inciting incident and the conflict can be two different things. I don’t know that the conflict of her not wanting to what did you say the conflict was? Her desire to what?
V.E. Griffith 00:29:10
To keep Theodore under wraps.
Valerie Ihsan 00:29:12
That doesn’t keep her by surprise. Like, she’s lived her whole life that way. So how is that all of a sudden a conflict that’s pushing her out of her comfort zone?
V.E. Griffith 00:29:20
Well, I guess in that she had been successful before and this was a new complication. I see where you’re going. It’s semantic, and they’re kind of parallel to one another, I think.
Valerie Ihsan 00:29:40
Ran Weingartner 00:29:44
And I think both work for Catherine and my purposes. I think both work. Theodore’s promotion is definitely an inciting incident because now she has to up her game, and then absolutely, there’s conflict within her. And I’m glad that that piece is clear about needing to keep him safe while at the same time wanting a life of her own. And that always comes back to the surface. Whenever she has to level up her game, then it comes up again for her. So, yeah, that works as well. But also because she has to level up her game. That’s also a conflict, right?
Valerie Ihsan 00:30:49
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:30:52
I mean, I just saw it as Theodore got a promotion, and she’s like, Shit, but that was me.
Valerie Ihsan 00:31:00
Ran Weingartner 00:31:01
And that’s the very definition of an inciting incident. Whenever a character goes, oh, shit, then that’s it. That’s the inciting incident. You’ve nailed it.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:31:13
Yeah. And this is also a slight scene from Theodore’s story as well because Theodore’s story is the other end of how he got the promotion. And so her story is starting where his story is ending. So it kind of was fun for me.
V.E. Griffith 00:31:33
I felt like, are we ready to move on to choice?
Ran Weingartner 00:31:36
V.E. Griffith 00:31:38
Okay. I felt like the choice here was does Lizzie continue with whatever it is that she’s got to do to protect Theodore or does she finally give up and say he’s not cooperating and just walk away, he’s an adult now and let him do his thing? And I felt like that choice was clear and thrust upon her, which was really good. She would have been happy enough in the status quo and the conflict forces her into a choice that she has to make. And because of the choice that she makes, the next steps of the story reasonably follow from that. So I felt like that worked very well. It was very clear to me.
Valerie Ihsan 00:32:37
I marked it fair and let me tell you why. So I agree with you. The choice is the same to stay and take the ladies made position to get the best intel on Theodore instead of running away by herself to the new town and a new life where she could stop running and stop worrying about Theo. So those were the two choices, stay or yeah. So I felt like her choice to stay and take care of her brother. Well, it would first of all be the irreconcilable good. That’s the type of choice, like taking one for the team, it’s not going to be good for her, but it’ll be good for him. So I marked it fair because the choice between staying and going is one that would normally be fraught with indecision and tension. But because I don’t know Lizzie yet and this is just 3000 words in the decision does seem too easy for her. Of course she’s going to stay and take care of her brother. So it seemed kind of like if the choice is obey my mother’s dying wishes and take care of my family or run away and do my own thing, it just seemed like a no brainer. Of course she’s going to pick her brother. So I felt like the choice was too easy for her. The consequences, she didn’t spend enough time really weighing it. It was just a tiny little blip. But that’s because of the nature of the shortness of the piece. So we don’t have enough time for her to really we’re not in her mind and soul long enough to create that tension of should I go or should I stay. It was just a couple of paragraphs, but that’s because it’s less than 4000 words long, so we don’t have time to invest in her needs and wants and choices in the short number of words allowed in this piece. So I did mark it fair because of the rubric rules, but that’s why.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:32:37
I’ll accept it.
Valerie Ihsan 00:32:37
I wish there was a little bit more time, like maybe one other moment where she was trying to like, should I do this or should I not. maybe, maybe leaving the bedroom scene with Robert Jr. Who offered her the job and have know come to that decision once again and then going back to Robert and saying, OK, I’ll take the job.
Ran Weingartner 00:35:34
Yes, I agree. I absolutely agree with you, Valerie. I think, um I think that could be beefed up. On the one hand, that’s the part about this choice, I think VE you’re right as well. I mean, I’m glad to hear you say that, because we were sort of like, well, there’s no choice. And that for her. She will always pick Theodore over herself. And so because we’ve established that pattern, any choice, that what we want, I think, Catherine we also had that conversation. What we want for the reader experience is whenever Lizzie comes to one of these crossroads, we want the reader to go, choose freedom, Lizzie.
Ran Weingartner 00:36:32
Choose like that’s. That’s what we want. And then she is almost there and is about to do it, but no, she goes back to her brother and we’re all disappointed for her. And because if that’s what we want as a reader experience, then we haven’t spent enough time really delving into her longing for that to happen, really, you know what I mean? We haven’t done enough work to make the idea of her choosing herself and choosing her freedom palpable enough for the reader.
Valerie Ihsan 00:37:12
Because of the short. You don’t have enough time to create another whole scene, really, where she’s interacting with someone, but maybe just having maybe she’s got, like, an old postcard of another place that she keeps as a prized possession, like someplace that’s not here. And you can have her looking at it or touching it or pulling it out before she goes to bed at night and putting it under her pillow. Something that shows, like, she’s really yearning to be somewhere else so that when she does make the choice.
Ran Weingartner 00:37:45
Yes, I think those are great ideas. Absolutely great ideas. I think we should probably consider something of that.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:37:56
You’re making this longer on me. I’m trying to stay short.
Ran Weingartner 00:38:03
Valerie Ihsan 00:38:03
That doesn’t take very long.
V.E. Griffith 00:38:05
Yeah, you’re talking way less than 1000 words. I mean, 5000 words would be fine for this.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:38:11
No, man, I could go another ten.
V.E. Griffith 00:38:15
Valerie Ihsan 00:38:16
Reader Magnets. Could be novellas, too. True. So the consequence.
V.E. Griffith 00:38:26
The problem with it being a novella is that a novella, Miss Catherine MH. Is 100,000 words.
Valerie Ihsan 00:38:30
Ran Weingartner 00:38:33
That’s already too long for me.
V.E. Griffith 00:38:37
Okay, I’m sorry. Go ahead, Valerie.
Valerie Ihsan 00:38:39
Oh, I was just thinking. The consequence, I think, is often the most easiest thing to write as a writer, because it’s always just what happens next. It’s the natural movement. It’s the kinesiology of the words. It just happens that way. So the consequence of her choosing to. Stick around and take the job is that she starts working as the ladies maid and gets the young miss, who’s Eleanore, to like her enough to comply, at least. I mean, you see them on the same page. By the end of the story, at least we think we do, I mean for the purposes of the story, they’re on the same page. So I marked it good but minus, because there wasn’t that huge struggle for Lizzie to accept the job. So the consequence was expected.
Ran Weingartner 00:39:36
Valerie Ihsan 00:39:37
But it was interesting to see how Lizzie piqued Eleanore’s curiosity. And so I was hooked into knowing how Lizzie and Eleanore, I wanted to know how Lizzie is going to use Eleanore for Lizzie’s gain out of necessity of bad. Lizzie’s not a bad person, but I also wanted to see how their friendship grows and evolves. And I only know that because I know that Eleanore and Lizzie’s later relationship becomes deeper because of my work that I’ve done with you, Ms. Catherine. I haven’t read the book, but I know that there is some other kind of relationship that develops over time. So I’m curious about how that comes about. And now that I know you are not writing anything else about that, I’m not happy.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:40:39
I mean, you’re going to get a story from Eleanore a little later on, you’ll see some of it, but I’ll fill you in more when we’re not recording, so I don’t give anybody spoilers.
V.E. Griffith 00:40:55
I felt like the consequence was sort of Fair Plus, basically for the same reasons. Obviously she’s going to take the job. I felt like that opening the loop on what the job entails was good, but I felt like, of course she’s going to take the job or you’re not going to have a story.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:41:20
V.E. Griffith 00:41:23
Unless the story is going to wind up being that she says, screw this, and runs away, and then you have sort of an alternate universe problem. I mean, that’s that’s where I went with the I think fair plus was where I landed on that. Catherine, what do you think?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:41:50
Like, I needed her literally to have the job because that’s where the book starts. She is the maid. like the book starts because of her. My favorite thing that I had said to Ran was my last line, which was scandals, because I was like, Yo, I’ve got to tie it in. And part of their relationship throughout these, like so the book starts eight years later. Throughout these eight years, it is all Eleanor and her do. They collect gossip from everyone. They collect scandals. They play it around to people. It’s like her fun game of seeing the outside. And, like, Eleanore doesn’t quite understand that it was literally, you are collecting info, so I know if my brother is safe or but, like, for her, she was like, this is so much fun. And so it really helps later on in the book to know that she got it from Lizzie and that she’s left because Lizzie’s missing. So I needed her to be a maid because it has to happen.
Valerie Ihsan 00:43:01
I don’t have the piece pulled up in front of me. But two things that I felt uncomfortable with as I was reading it was the dialect. It could be construed as stereotypical or microaggression or something like that sounded, anyway. But I got used to it a little bit as I was reading. But I did start out like I don’t know if maybe you want what do they call that? Not a sympathy reader, but a
V.E. Griffith 00:43:01
Valerie Ihsan 00:43:01
Sensitivity reader, yeah. Just somebody else’s opinion about that. And you can also dialect is, of course, really hard to read as a reader. So you could just use a word or two that would indicate that dialect and then write the rest in nondialect so that it’s easier to read. But I was mostly worried about the sensitivity part for that. As far as starting the story, do you want me to just spoiler go for it?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:44:13
Valerie Ihsan 00:44:14
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:44:14
Valerie Ihsan 00:44:15
Starting with when I first started reading, I thought we were starting it with a rape scene. I did not know that she was I mean, it’s definitely sexual abuse in the workplace, but I didn’t know that she was allowing it to happen for a purpose. So that was a little bit off putting and kind of like, I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about this as I’m starting the story, which is not where you want your reader to be. So I would recommend as an editor, I would recommend having that particular scene be off camera. So maybe you can start the scene where she’s, like, buttoning up her bodice or straightening her skirts and Mr. Brown is saying whatever he’s saying. And so you can still have her thinking her mother’s stuff the flashback as she’s, like, walking down to her station again or something like that. So you can indicate that that has just happened. It doesn’t feel like a rape scene then. And also, the very first flashback where she’s hearing her mom’s words, don’t tell anyone about him, I thought was referring to Mr. Brown. So I got really confused about what I was supposed to be feeling or experiencing at the very beginning.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:45:48
Okay, that’s good to know. Yeah.
Valerie Ihsan 00:45:52
Having the remembering a different time from the action of intercourse.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:45:59
Yeah. I debated on whether or not to show that in this story because scandal’s pen is dark, steampunk, and I don’t want to give people that. Oh, it’s like a fun historical when you read the book, it’s about finding a sex slave trade. It’s about the MeToo movement and how women have had to just put up with it for reasons.
Valerie Ihsan 00:46:25
Then I would make her disgustedly, like wiping herself, feeling yucky, getting out of the room as fast as she can, and having that internal dialogue of, I have to do this for my safety. I have to do this for my brother’s safety. It’s disgusting. You can show that in internal dialogue and not in action. That would be my recommendation for the beginning.
V.E. Griffith 00:46:52
The other question that came to mind for me, how old is she in this?
Valerie Ihsan 00:46:55
V.E. Griffith 00:46:57
She needs to be 18.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:46:59
It doesn’t work with the time frame.
Valerie Ihsan 00:47:02
Why does she have to be 18? VE statutory rape laws, like, probably didn’t exist for them in the world.
V.E. Griffith 00:47:12
I understand, but some publishers can get hinky about under 18 sex.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:47:16
Oh, well, it happens. That’s part of the reason that I.
Valerie Ihsan 00:47:20
Self publishing and you’re the publisher, but.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:47:23
Also the fact that girls this age are in this. This is happening to them.
V.E. Griffith 00:47:29
No, I understand the reason.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:47:30
Part of my push forward.
V.E. Griffith 00:47:31
I agree with it. I just wanted to flag that as you don’t want to get your account suspended in terms of service violation.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:47:39
I mean, I’m also not showing it as young adult either. It’s new adult for my genre.
Valerie Ihsan 00:47:46
Also, this particular story is not going to be for sale.
V.E. Griffith 00:47:52
Valerie Ihsan 00:47:53
It’s going to be on your website.
V.E. Griffith 00:47:54
That’s true. Yeah.
Ran Weingartner 00:47:54
And it’s not explicit.
Valerie Ihsan 00:47:58
I mean, Thrust is kind of explicit.
Ran Weingartner 00:48:02
Her age is her age is not explicit. Yes. No, you’re right.
Valerie Ihsan 00:48:06
Ran Weingartner 00:48:07
The sex is explicit ish but her age is ambiguous in this story.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:48:17
We do mention it.
Valerie Ihsan 00:48:18
Yeah. There’s a line that says as a 17 year old.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:48:22
Yeah, a little later, after the 17.
Ran Weingartner 00:48:24
Remember that one?
V.E. Griffith 00:48:26
Yeah, it was in there. That’s what flagged it for me. You may want to take that out.
Valerie Ihsan 00:48:31
And it would be as a young.
V.E. Griffith 00:48:34
Woman and make it age indeterminate. And then it would still work. And you’d get around the terms of service issues.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:48:44
I’ll think about it because it is like I said, this happens to women.
Ran Weingartner 00:48:50
But I think there’s ways of doing it they could be inexplicit in this scene, and I mean her age, and then at the same time be like, she’s been doing this a long time.
Valerie Ihsan 00:49:04
Ran Weingartner 00:49:04
She’s an old hat at it. There’s ways to still get the point across without it appearing that we’re what’s the word?
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:49:18
Ran Weingartner 00:49:20
Thank you. That’s a good way of putting yeah.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:49:23
All right, so I guess thanks, because I know Val needs to leave.
Ran Weingartner 00:49:28
Yeah. Thanks, Valerie.
Valerie Ihsan 00:49:30
Thank you so much for inviting me. It was really fun.
V.E. Griffith 00:49:36
Any parting thoughts?
Valerie Ihsan 00:49:38
I just am happy that I got to do this with you guys. It was really fun. And yeah, if you ever need an extra set of eyeballs, I’m happy to come and do this again.
V.E. Griffith 00:49:48
You’re always welcome on the show. All right, well, thanks, y’all, and we will see you next time.
Valerie Ihsan 00:49:54
Okay, bye for now.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:49:56
V.E. Griffith 00:50:02
Of course now I have something in my eyeball the moment we hit record. Okay. Welcome to the Revision Wizards podcast, Miss Catherine MH. Do you know what? I didn’t check because I just realized I didn’t even check if I’m using the correct microphone. I am. Wait. Okay. No, we’re going to click that. That was loud.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:50:31
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:50:32
Can you still hear me?
V.E. Griffith 00:50:33
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:50:34
Okay. That was a good catch on my part. It wasn’t hooked up to it, even though it’s plugged in normally. I check that. Okay.
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:50:44
Miss Catherine M.H. 00:50:48
I would say, like, hey, we’re not even keeping the video anymore. But you could add this onto something if you needed. Anyway.