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January 12, 2009

The Curious Series of Events

This is a bit of a story, so grab a coffee and get comfortable.

Mr. Munro went to pick up Scotty from the kennels on Sunday. The kennel assistant came out with Scotty and a basket that didn’t belong to her. Hubby said, “That’s not Scotty’s basket.” But evidently Scotty had slept in that basket the entire time we were away. (Let’s call this event one)

The kennel people ran around looking for Scotty’s tatty basket and couldn’t find it. It is tatty with the stuffing showing through the fabric but she doesn’t like the new ones we purchased for her. She likes the old one. They looked high and low and finally said hubby could take the basket Scotty had been sleeping in. Subsequent investigations i.e. looking at the label says this basket belongs to a dog called Dexter. (Let’s call this event two)

Hubby and Scotty went off to collect a chainsaw from a friend so he could cut down a tree. When he went to load the chainsaw into the car he discovered the wee dog had had an accident of the smelly kind. Hubby assures me he didn’t shout at her, but I don’t really believe him. Scotty is very good but sometimes she can’t move fast enough to reach the great outdoors. In this case she was trapped inside the car. (Let’s call this event three)

Hubby and Scotty arrived at home. Scotty went straight into the tub for a wash and shampoo while I put her new basket (the one that used to belong to Dexter) into the washing machine and cleaned out the car. (Let’s call this event four)

Scotty went outside to dry while hubby prepared for his tree chopping adventure. I went inside to check my email and think about writing, housework and the like. I heard sudden shouting and swearing in the garage and went racing out to investigate. While hubby was washing Scotty in the tub, she knocked the washing machine outlet pipe and it dropped to the ground, unnoticed by hubby. When the washing machine emptied, it emptied out into the garage and we ended up with a flood. (Let’s call this event five)

Hubby and I frantically mopped and wiped up water, shifting stuff in the garage and panicking in case the water seeped through the wall into the house and wet the carpet. (Let’s call this event six)

Now: I’m going to leave you on a traditional hook – Will the Munros save their carpet from becoming wet and moldy? And will Dexter turn up to reclaim his basket?

It struck me while I was mopping frantically and running the weird series of events through my head that this was typical plotting. It’s what writers try to do while plotting a book. They try to make each crisis bigger and more alarming to test the characters. Yep, I’d experienced a lesson in plotting all in the space of an hour. It actually served as a reminder. I need to be a little meaner to my characters in my current Middlemarch book. They needed to suffer just as Mr Munro and I suffered.

Do you think some authors overdo the series of events and torture their characters too much? Do you think that characters aren’t tested enough and we authors let them off too easily? What are your thoughts about plotting?


  1. Sandra Cox

    LOL. Thanks for the plot reminder. I’ll have to work on stretching the tension:)

  2. J.K. Coi

    Actually this is a reminder to me as well. I was having trouble figuring out what was wrong with my WIP, but I think this is exactly it. They just aren’t suffering enough!

  3. Wylie

    I like messing with their fictional little lives, but not so much to make the reader cringe…

    And how could you leave us hanging like that?? Please, give us the rest! :eek:

  4. Leah Braemel

    Oh, heck, Shelley, your day sounds like mine on Wednesday when our hot water heater flooded our basement. I know I keep hearing “conflict, more conflict” in writing panels, but I like the idea of all the little things adding up. Especially after my week last week (in addition to the hot water heater, BOTH vacuums broke, the screen door was wrenched off by its hinges thanks to a windstorm, and an eavestrough fell off thanks to an ice buildup.) However if I wrote that into a book, I’ll bet people would say “enough already” or the editor would decide it was a comedy.

    And what happened about Dexter’s basket? Get a call yet?

  5. Shelley Munro

    Scotty still has possession of Dexter’s basket. She took to this basket immediately and somehow I don’t think she’s going to give it up easily. :mrgreen: The verdict is still out on the carpet.

    Leah – that’s what I thought. If I wrote all that in a book, no one would believe it.

  6. Amy W.

    Wel, as strictly a reader and not an author I thought it was riveting as a story. I was hooked and can’t wait for the conclusion to appear in another couple of days. LOL! I have no problem with tension and more tension, my problem is when it takes forever to get there. Too much set-up and description of the “unknown” back story. I love those books who just throw you into a situation or problem that the main character is having/going through. Bring it on I say! But don’t leave me hanging (Shelley!) Or I may go insane and take you off my list of authors because while I’m all for big mysteries taking place over several books or a series but most of the little ones need to be resolved and wrapped up in a pretty bow by the end of the book.
    Oh, and yes a book is boring if there’s not enough tension, I have been known to throw them across the room in cases like that.
    P.S. I hope he gets to keep his “new” basket and that the carpet is perfectly ok.

  7. Mallory

    Sounds like Mercury Retrograde to me ;)

  8. Jennifer Shirk

    LOL! Well, this was post was more interesting than a book I recently read. :mrgreen:

  9. Shelley Munro

    Amy – the plot certainly held my attention. Hubby’s too. :mrgreen:

    Mallory – you think? Anything is possible with that pesky Mercury Retrograde. :wink:

    Jennifer – yeah, it’s funny now. Not so much at the time. Scotty is currently sitting in her new basket. Dexter is gonna have to fight her for it if he wants it back!

  10. Barbara Martin

    Mallory has it dead on…mercury retrograde.

    As for me, Shelley, this was a perfect post. I, too, need to be meaner to my characters and give them more of a workout.

  11. Fedora

    Aack! So sorry it was such an eventful day for you! I’ll be interested to see how this works out for your characters ;)

  12. Dayanna

    Yeah keep torturing them, we certainly enjoy it just as long as you make the end worth it….hehe…I wonder is that what you are doing to Leticia’s Lovers? Bad Shelley :mad:

  13. Shelley Munro

    LOL – you’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you?


  1. Shelley Munro Blog » Blog Archive » A Day at Munro House - [...] affect her appetite. She is still in possession of Dexter’s basket (see my post on The Curious Series of…