September 23, 2013


This morning, as I was sipping coffee and reading the few pages that now constitute the Monday morning newspaper, our lights went out. At least some of them did. In the kitchen, the fridge was still operating, but not the stove. The toaster worked, but not the microwave. Our computers were powerless, as were our chargers and garage door opener. The overhead light fixtures--in some rooms--worked, but not in others. Most table lamps lit up, but not all.

The automated response to a call to the power company promised that they were working to fix our problem. We were mystified about how they could tell what the problem was, much less fix it from a distance.  A few hours later a lineman came to climb our electric pole and investigate. He reported that one of the three lines into our house had come loose. It took him a while, but he repaired the line and seemed as pleased about that as we were.

This episode reminds me that two-thirds is never as good as the whole. Writing a novel involves at least three-thirds: plot, setting and characters. Try writing with only two of the three. I've gotten carried away with one of the three, jumping into great detail about a character's appearance and back story but forgetting the she exists in a time and place or that she has a problem to solve. So, like an effective electricity delivery system, it's good to keep all three wires firmly in place--at all times. If one comes loose and loses power, so does the novel.

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