Sick-Room Cat

Scout, here.  


Posting for Sue, who’s sacked out on the couch with flu.  You may remember me as the cat she described as her “personal writer’s helper” in one of her earlier blog posts–give me a break.  I only do what I gotta do.  Like that bit about waking her up every morning at 4:30 on the dot?  It’s for her own good, y’know.  She’s got a new book to write and can’t waste her time wallowing around in bed.  

So, this morning I knew we were in trouble when she didn’t respond to my gentle taps upon her forehead.  

I finally managed to roll her out of bed, but instead of heading to her desk, she headed to…the couch!  Who’s complaining?  I get to curl up beside her, but it comes with a price:  listening to her feverish mumblings.  They range from failing word count for her cabin at Camp NaNoWriMo to where does her story REALLY begin?  

She’s supposed to start with the inciting incident, but it’s hard to recognize when there are so many riveting incidents in the backstory.  And then she moans about the backstory being so complicated that no reader will understand the inciting incident without knowing the backstory first.  One of her writing coaches suggested that if you have to have too many flashbacks, maybe you haven’t started your book early enough.  

So, if I’m to live up to my title of “personal writer’s helper” I’m passing the ball to you readers.  Any suggestions?  Or is this something that should be referred to Peggy Pixel? 


Author: sue star

Sue Star writes mysteries about families in chaos. She is the author of the Nell Letterly series, about a single mom who teaches karate to support her teenage daughter. Sue also writes suspense with a touch of romance in exotic settings.

13 thoughts on “Sick-Room Cat”

  1. Hi Scout, I’m afraid I’m not much help having been MIA myself this past week due to human and feline health issues. I can speak to the pesky beginning though. First draftitis I believe. I generally find my three chapters are backstory wrapped around the inciting incident. Backstory for me, inciting incident for the book. Somehow, it all works out -especially with tough critique partners!

    Feel better, Sue!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Take good care of your momma, Scout, so she feels better soon.

    My (still incomplete) novel had EIGHT beginnings before I finally wrote the one I needed. There’s a whole folder full of previous first chapters, waiting to learn whether they have a place in the story or not. We’ll see; I love them, but I’m not convinced the story needs them. But the first chapter? I’ve now had three editors/agents tell me they’d ask for more if I pitched this chapter to them, so I think I’ll keep it. (Thank you, New England Crime Bake, for the chance to practice with agents and editors!)

    Tough critique partners are the best.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Yes, Scout, I do have a suggestion. Tell Sue to write the last scene. When she writes the last scene, it will help crystalize in her mind the story arc and where she needs to begin so that it will come full circle.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Nice to meet you, Scout!

    Peggy’s Inbox is empty (thus why no post yesterday), but I think she’d love the challenge. Otherwise, I’d take Keenan’s advice. Write the last scene first and maybe it’ll help her figure out where she’s supposed to start.

    Feel better Sue!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Dear Personal Writer’s Helper,
    Thank you for your devotion. We readers like to know that someone is always on the job. As a reader, I want both an “inciting” incident and flashbacks to help me understand how people got to where they are in the story. I don’t really care about the background of every character because, yes, it is confusing and sometimes so tedious to read that I skip it.

    AH, the ending –I hope that writers know the ending of the story when they write, even if they don’t know the middle, because the ending is most likely what I will remember. (NO, I don’t read the ending of a mystery first, although I do sometimes read read the ending of other things first.) I want an ending that is well crafted, thoughtful, and surprising or even shocking. The beginning of the story pulls me in; the middle adds details, but it is the end that makes it a great book for me. My advice as a reader — write the ending first, then go back and fill in.

    Thank you
    Katie Caprero
    Personal handler
    Literary Witness Protection Program
    (consultation available on request)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Dragging myself off the couch while Scout, of course, naps… Thanks for all the well wishes and the great ideas. It’s so true about the need for a strong ending and also the importance of tough critique partners. This ending is written in my head, along with a jumble of midway incidents, so I’m just jumping somewhere into the beginning and will let my awesome critique group have at it. I am so looking forward to Peggy’s thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never had the honor of writing a book, so I’ll learn from the comments above, in case that situation ever comes up. Meanwhile, Scout, the personal assistant, is a real cutie pie. Query: if you said “the cat’s got your tongue” and you can’t speak, would that be akin to writer’s block when you are wordless and can’t write?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Scout, I think you’re doing just fine. Muses and critique partners can offer many suggestions, but it’s up to the author to sift through them and pick the best way forward. Don’t worry about Sue. She’s a professional and will figure it out in no time. Perhaps when her fever breaks. But I bet you’ll take all the credit.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If you have any revelations, Scout, pass them along. I’m falling behind in Camp Nano as well due to health and life in general. I thought I was doing well, but I just looked it over and it’s essentially 4k words of backstory 😥

    Liked by 1 person

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