>Revision in 140 characters or fewer

December 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm (Uncategorized)

>My novel experienced a major overhaul today, courtesy of my critique group. This weekend, many of them entered a pitch contest on an agent’s blog. I wanted to join in, but I had a small problem.

I had no pitch.

I’ve heard at conferences before that ever story needs to have a good pitch, or a short plug that you could give if you were in an elevator with an editor. I just never got around to writing my own. This contest in particular wanted a Twitter pitch: 140 characters, maximum. That couldn’t be too hard to write, could it?

An hour later, I still didn’t have my pitch. I had a number of questions, which I decided to use to guide my revisions.

1. Who is the protagonist in my story?
2. What motivates her (or him, but her in this case)?
3. How does this motivation effect the plot?
4. What is the conflict at the heart of my story?
5. Would my reader know the answer to these questions by the end of the first chapter? The first three? The first seven?

Ironically, as I looked over these questions, I realized I did have a pitch after all. I had to boil my story down to its basic elements, the evaluate it. In the process of finalizing my pitch, I got a better look at the imperfections in my story. Now I’m excited to go and make those changes.

Now it’s your turn. Go write a pitch for your novel, whether it’s finished or not. Figure out what’s really going on at the heart of your story. If your story feels slow or your revisions feel stagnant, you could diagnose your problems in 140 characters or fewer.

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Accompanist’s Fingerless Gloves

December 2, 2010 at 1:19 pm (Uncategorized)

Bad circulation and playing piano in cold weather don’t mix. As a knitter, I realized I could remedy that problem by making myself a pair of fingerless gloves. But when I couldn’t find a pattern I liked, I had two choices, give up, or design my own.
The motif on the bottom echoes a “grupetto,” a musical symbol indicating a trill or “turn.” Just like the grupetto adds flair to a line of music, cables add energy and movement to these gloves.
My main source of inspiration was the character Demyx from the Kingdom Hearts video game series. Laid-back and a bit of a slacker, he fits well with the theme: simplicity with a touch of flair. The grupettos on the cuff echo the water he summons to do his dirty work for him.

I’ve left the back of the glove blank to maintain that simplicity, but you are more than welcome to knit the Organization XIII emblem there instead (although I don’t have the pattern for it).
(The second glove and a pair in a Demyx-appropriate color scheme are forthcoming.)
The gauge for this project 6 st or 9 rows to the inch. I achieved this with KP Shadow (a laceweight yarn) on size 2 needles. (The instructions are written for one large circular needle, but you can also use DPNs or two circs). I used two colors—MC and CC—but you can use fewer (or more) at your own discretion. You will also need a tapestry needle, a cable needle, and two buttons.

*C5F means cabling 5 stitches—moving 2 in front of 3. The first and last 2 will be knit in CC.
C2F means cabling 4 stitches, holding the first 2 in front; C2B means cabling 4 with the first 2 in back.

Grupetto cable:
Row 1: Sl p1 [k2 CC] p5 [k2CC] p1 k1
Row 2: Sl k1 [p2 CC] k5 [p2 CC] k1 p1
Row 3: Sl p1 [C2F MC] p1 C2B p1 k1
Row 4: Sl k3 [p2 CC] k1 p2 k3 p1
Row 5: Sl p3 C5F p3 k1
Row 6: Sl k3 [p2 CC] k1 [p2 CC] k3 p1
Row 7: Sl p1 C2B p1 C2B p1 k1
Row 8: Sl k1 [p2 CC] k5 [p2 CC] k1 p1

The cuffs are knit separately; the body of the glove is knitted from stitches you pick up along the edge of the cuff.

Grupetto cuff (make 2):
CO 13 stitches in MC. Knit one set-up row: Sl k1 [p2 CC] k5 [p2 CC] k1 p1
Work in Grupetto Cable pattern for X repeats, or until the cuff is 1” shorter than desired length.

Buttonhole:
(Start on RS)
Sl p1 [k2 CC] p1. BO 3 st. [k2 CC] p2.
Sl k1 [p2 CC] k1. CO 1 st using cable cast-on. [p2 CC] k2.
Sl p1 [k2 CC] p5 [k2CC] p1 k1
Sl k1 [p2 CC] k5 [p2 CC] k1 p1
Bind off in MC

Glove:
The two gloves only differ in the orientation of the cuff. Lay the cuff with the buttonhole on the left. For a left-handed glove, you will pick up 36 stitches along the top edge, starting near the button; for a right-handed one, you’ll pick up 36 along the bottom edge. Knit one row, untwisting stitches as needed.
Work 5 rows (1 inch) flat in Stockinette stitch. (You should start on the WS.)

On rows 6 and 7, kfb at the beginning and end of each row. 40 st total.

On row 8 (a knit row), place a stitch marker 2 st from the start of the row and 2 st from the end. Join to knit in the round.

Thumb gusset:
Row 1: k1, m1, k1, slm, k to last 2 stitches, slm, k1, m1, k1. (42 st)
Row 2: k all stitches
Row 3: k2, m1, k1, slm, k to last 3 stitches, slm, k1, m1, 43. (44 st)
Row 4: k all stitches
Row 5: k3, m1, k1, slm, k to last 4 stitches, slm, k1, m1, k5. (46 st)
Row 6: k all stitches
Row 7: k4, m1, k1, slm, k to last 5 stitches, slm, k1, m1, k6. (48 st)
Row 8: k all stitches
Row 9: k all stitches
Row 10: k5, m1, k1, slm, k to last 6 stitches, slm, k1, m1, k7. (50 st)
Row 11: k all stitches
Row 12: k6, m1, k1, slm, k to last 7 stitches, slm, k1, m1, k8. (52 st)
Row 13: k all stitches
Row 14: k all stitches
Row 15: k7, m1, k1, slm, k to last 8 stitches, slm, k1, m1, k9. (54 st)
Row 16: k all stitches
Row 17: k all stitches
Move the first and last 7 stitches from the row onto waste yarn to be used later.

Palm; continue in St st until the full glove measures 1.5” or reaches the base of the pinky. End the St st section on the knuckles opposite the thumb.

Pinky:
Row 1: move 15 st onto waste yarn. K 10 and move the next 15 stitches onto waste yarn. (10 st)
Work these 10 stitches in st st in the round for 5 rows or until the pinky measures your desired length. Bind off leaving an extra-long tail.

Fingers:
Move the 15 body st back onto the needles and knit. Pick up and knit 3 st from the base of the pinky; this will connect the fingers and give you less trouble later for seaming. Move the next 15 st onto the needles and knit. (33 st)
Knit 2 more rows in the round.

Index finger:
Knit 6 st. Move the next 22 st onto waste yarn. Knit the remaining 6 stitches.
Work st st in the round for 6 rows or until the index finger measures your desired length. Bind off leaving an extra-long tail.

Middle finger:
Knit 5 st. Move the next 12 st onto waste yarn. Add 2 st; knit the remaining 5 stitches, then pick up 2 from the base of the index finger.
Work st st in the round for 7 rows or until the middle finger measures your desired length. Bind off leaving an extra-long tail.

Ring finger:
Knit 12 st. Pick up 2 st from the base of the middle finger.
Work st st in the round for 6 rows or until the ring finger measures your desired length. Bind off leaving an extra-long tail.

Thumb:
Knit 14 st. Pick up 2 st from the body of the glove.
Work st st in the round for 7 rows or until the pinky measures your desired length. Bind off leaving an extra-long tail.

Weave in your ends. With the longer tails, sew together any holes that formed at the base of the fingers or thumb.

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>A Beginning

December 2, 2010 at 12:11 pm (Uncategorized)

>I’ve heard writers say–sometimes in jest–that the first page is always the hardest. The empty white space and the blinking cursor or smooth pen beg to be used, filled, brought to life. I’ve come to find these helpful to my writing, not intimidating.

Unless I’m writing blog posts.

Something about writing on the internet terrifies me. I’m content to lurk, to read, and to never open my mouth. I don’t want to put myself out there.

And yet, I’m also curious about the experiences of other writers. I, for one, have the most annoying cast(s) of characters I could imagine. They argue, they show up in stories where they aren’t supposed to, they announce story ideas right before I head to class or go to bed.

This blog is dedicated to those characters. Well, not just them, but characters everywhere. I want to hear your stories, your problems, your ways to cope with your stories.

When your characters collaborate against you, collaborate against them!

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