Tag Archives: WIP

The Absentminded Professor

I’ve had a lot of fun creating one of the characters that shows up in my WIP. He’s an eccentric, zany college professor.

Although he’s only in one scene, it’s a pivotal scene– the scene where my main characters first meet.

Did I mention it’s been a fun scene to write?

I must have eccentric university professors on the brain because I was slicing a watermelon a few days ago and it brought back the memory of one of the most eccentric profs I ever had in college.

And I’ve had a few.

One liked to bring her guitar to class and make us sing campfire songs about teaching. (Clearly hadn’t been in a high school classroom, for which she was preparing us, in a very long time.)

One talked about Nathaniel Hawthorne like they were in a romantic relationship. (Creepy.)

One taught Latin dance lessons (which I took, thank you very much. So fun!)

One wrote his own textbook. (Ego, much?)

One continually forgot what we were doing in class and relied on us to make up our own assignments and grade them. (Not my favorite.)

One was possibly the devil.

But the one I think was the most “eccentric” was really the most fun. He was my geography professor. While many on campus didn’t care for him or his methods of teaching, I enjoyed his classes. Because of my degree, I think I took about 5 or 6 classes from him. Thank goodness I liked him.

He was a good ole Southern boy, but super, super intelligent with lots of wisdom and experience, and he wasn’t afraid to share. He was also a little bit of a dirty old man. In a funny way.

His “rambling” was very entertaining.

His exams were always challenging.

By challenging I mean that you better hope and pray that you wrote down and studied every.single.word that he said in class, because there was absolutely no telling what he’d put on the exam. You might be studying Africa, but a question about politics in the US would show up.

One time he came into class, late of course, and shouted “everyone get out a piece of paper. Draw Russia. When you’re done, you can go.”

By “draw Russia” he wanted an exact topographical map, to scale. Yeah, even this geography nerd found that challenging. Russia’s big, y’all, and it’s got a lot of stuff going on in it geographically. 🙂

But let me get back to the watermelon.

One of my fondest memories of his class is when he went off on a tangent about watermelons. He began lecturing us on the best way to slice a watermelon so that you wouldn’t “lose its soul.”

No, I’m not kidding.

And guess what showed up on the exam?

Question 38– What’s the best way to slice a watermelon so you don’t lose its soul?

No, really. I’m not kidding.

Share with me: Do you have any stories or memories of a zany, eccentric professor from your university days?

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Filed under Just For Fun, Writing

Aw, Man! Can’t I Just Call It “Work In Progress” Forever?

Titles.

Sometimes they are tricky and you’re still hashing it out long after you’ve written The End.

Other times they come to you before you’ve even constructed a single line of prose.

Don’t you always want yours to be brilliant, catchy, and meaningful?

Maybe you’re a long title person. (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day)

Maybe you’re a one-worder. (Twilight)

I’m currently reading Crafting Novels & Short Stories: Everything You Need to Know to Write Great Fiction.

One of the first things suggested by the authors (a collection of Writer’s Digest authors), even before you’ve written anything, is that you give your WIP a title.

A working title. A title that distinguishes your work from everything else saved on your computer and, at best, gives you some idea of what you’re writing about.

Check. I do that. I think most probably do.

But it’s kind of like naming a kid. Once I’ve called it something, it’s really difficult for me to change it. At least in my mind.

I’m sure some of you out there are more relaxed. One day you’re calling your story “The Zombie Apocalypse” and they next day it’s re-titled “Everything’s Coming Up Worms.”

I know authors who’ve had their titles changed at the prompting of their editors. I think that’s probably a weird feeling– wanting to do what’s best for the story and letting go of the name you gave it.

I wish we could do this for humans–suggest they change the names of their children. After all, it’s in the best interest and for the future success of the child. (No child should ever be called Earl. Or Floyd. Or Lurlene. Just sayin’.)

Nine times out of ten, during the writing stage, my title is just that–working. It changes several times before I finally pin down the perfect one.

Most of the time the title comes to me during the writing process, most likely when I’m at least 1/2 through my manuscript.

Once–just once–the title came to me first.

Share with me: How do titles work for you? Do they come to you before, during, or after your story? Are they tricky, or does the perfect title arrive wrapped in a shiny bow?

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writing