Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fun facts about cats

The basics:

Fact: Pound for pound the domestic cat is the most efficient/ skilled predator on the planet. They are used to being the smallest kid on the block and thus are prideful... and a little bit sensitive.

1.) The slow eyeblink: Y'know how a cat will make eye contact then slowly close their eyes and open them again? Translation: "We're cool/ I like you at the moment." They want you to do it back, in fact, if you're a pro, you can get them to stop being mad at you by initiating this type of communication.

2.) If a cat is wagging its tail, it is not happy. : Most people know this, but what they don't know is that 85% that means the cat is pissed, 10% they are playing a mind game with you (We'll get into THAT later.) and 5% They're bored. BUT when swishing the tail, they are NEVER happy.

3.) If a cat rubs its body/face/ tail against you it is the highest compliment ever. That means the cat wants to own you. Cats are more territorial than any other animal. Besides peeing on things, (like dogs) they mark what is theirs by scratching (like deer) rubbing, and shitting (like humans.) Cats have scent glands in their cheeks, sides n' tails. But they reserve rubbing for things and people that they Really like.

4.) Same as a dog, a cat will roll over and expose their belly (vulnerable spot) when they trust you. Unlike a dog, that does not mean that you should rub their belly. Only do this when they know you very well and they are one of those cats that enjoy their belly rubbed. (some do, some don't, but you have to be friends with him/her before you should try it.)

5.) When a cat sits in touching range but does not beg for attention that means they see you as a fellow colony member, (Domestic feral cat group), so just chill and hang out with him/her. Don't talk/ pet/ cuddle the cat. Be cool and maybe do the slow eyeblink. Be cool, okay?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dealing with a too low word count while avoiding "fluff"

I have done it again. Seven weeks ago, I finished a first draft of a novel, coming out at a paltry 50,000 words. Perfect for NaNoWiMo, but not very useful anywhere else, where most publishers require word-counts of 70-100K.

Still, when the draft was finshed, I put it away to "marinate" for a few weeks thinking that when I picked it up again I would find enough plot holes to fill and add to the word count. Alas, it did not work that way. The story flowed fine as it was and all I could find were things to cut, such as cliches and adverbs.

What does one do to add to a second draft? Most editing advice is all about cutting. When do you add to a story? Where and how much? I don't want to put down a few thousand words of extrapolations on the blue of the sky, the green of the trees, and the fine architecture of the buildings in my setting. Some authors can get away with this, but I am not Anne Rice. I feel this would slow down the plot. I don't want to do an accessory by accessory run-down of everyone's wardrobe, I am not Laurell K. Hamilton.

My novel is to be a Regency Paranormal Romance. It was a blast to write. For inspiration I reread a few of my favorite Regencies and after a few hours of agony thinking I could never match such greatness, (Do any of you do that too?) I noticed a few patterns that enriched the stories and contributed to word count. Here are a few ideas.

1.) What are the current events happening in the story? Can you tie it in to the setting/ plot? Example: My story takes place in England in 1821. King George IV was crowned in July of that year. Perhaps the characters could have a scene during the coronation!

2.) Are you involving all five senses in your descriptions? I seem to neglect taste and smell a lot. Perhaps my character can complain about the stink of the Thames, since solid waste was dumped in it back then.

3.) Is there a transitional paragraph in the book that could be livened up into a dialogue scene? I had a paragraph in which I described my heroine's scandalous behavior which resulted in her being shunned by some crowds. Perhaps I can replace it with a funny scene in which society matrons are gossiping about her.

4.) Remember to "Show" and not "Tell." I know, I know. That declaration is made in every work regarding the craft. Because it's damn good advice. I repeat hear for the simple fact that "Showing" usually takes more words. i.e. "She was angry" vs. "She threw the vase, missing his head by inches." (I know, that's a cliche and I didn't use it, fun as it is.)

That's what I have so far, and I'm now eager to get back to work. I welcome any new tips you all may have.