Sketch outline complete

I finished it.

Yesterday morning, five-year-old Child Three kept asking me to take him out shopping so that he could choose gifts for his sisters. We needed to pick up gifts for their California cousins (who are spending the holidays, ironically, in Montreal and Ottawa) also. We went out around noon, just he and I, first to the nearby Vallco mall. I suggested some wooden dinosaur models for Cousin One and a dragon/snowglobe crystal ball for Cousin Two, but Child Three rejected them. Although I was willing to settle, he held out for better choices. We had to hit a bookstore anyway, so we left empty-handed and headed east.

I lived in San Jose for four years, ending in 1997, so my recall of the pecadillos of Bay Area byways is spotty, but I eventually spiralled in on Valley Fair from the west (280), south (Moorpark), then the east (Bascom to Steven’s Creek).

Child Three chose a long, round Siberian-tiger-style Hello Kitty pillow/stuffed animal for Cousin Two and a Hello Kitty stuffed rabbit in a sweater and cap for Child Two. We got a book to feed Child One’s voracious book hunger. The hardest gift to choose was Cousin One’s. He has a bit of a learning disability and his mother forbids plastic toys. I found it hard to judge whether he’d appreciate a game or book or feel frustrated by it, but we chose a fun toy for him in the Discovery Channel store: a voice changer. It’s too bad the “Walking with…” DVD series was too expensive. I love that stuff, and what kid doesn’t?

My girls received their gifts yesterday as last night’s Chanukah loot. They loved them. The best part of the day was when Child Three and I pulled into the driveway after three hours of shopping. “I had fun with you today, Dad,” he said. Best part of the day.

Second-best part of the day was later finishing the sketch outline. I’ll print it out soon and today work on carving it more finely.

I found a superb crutch, which is actually what prompted me to post this morning. “By the Book” is the story of alleged emotional abuse and evolutionary biology. I know a lot about the latter (I double-majored in biology and anthropology at Rice, then spent a year at Yale in a geology Ph.D. program, on the road to becoming one of those dinosaur guys you see on the Discovery Channel) but little about the former, thank goodness.

I picked up a self-help book on emotional abuse. What a writer’s treasure! The thing identifies personality types – characters, in other words. In some ways, it’s plug and play. All you monkeys who need exposure to alien personalities and motivations ought to head right for the self-help shelves for an introduction to all kinds of twisted personalities.

Bonus early warning:

My birthday is in mid-January and I have my heart* set on this. Buy now and avoid the rush.

* My logical heart. My emotional heart would love a new desktop Mac or PowerBook.

“By the Book” progress

I have a few problems with my sketch outline. This is a step before a treatment, more a series of notes that outline the story rather than what is typically called an outline, usually a beat by beat measure of the scenes.

My original ending leaves the main character unsympathetic. Maybe that’s OK. More seriously, I’m having trouble getting there. Third-act difficulties are new to me; typically I suffer the more common second-act blues. I just have to slog through it for now. I have plenty of time for changes before the treatment is due in March.

I’ve also noticed that the story seems to switch focus. I start with the male lead and gradually pay more and more attention to the female lead. I don’t think that’s a problem if I can craft the third act to return focus to the male. The emphasis on the female lead is a subplot, then. Again, however, it puts pressure on my third act.

Today’s a day of thinking and perhaps writing if the solution comes to me.

The new monster monitor

God bless Craigslist.

I secured a never-used, never-opened GDM-5410 monitor, a Sony rebranded as a Sun Microsystems display. It has a beautiful flat Trinitron with a 0.24mm aperture grill pitch. I’m a snob, and I prefer the Mitsubishi tubes with shadow masks, but this monster will certainly do the job. I snagged it for $50 (US dollars). The full stats, and pretty gray/purple case, can be seen here.

The box says it weighs 84 lb and I don’t have a scale to verify that. I thought it would be more like 70 lb. A box of 70 lb would cost $25 as heavy baggage, above that to 100 lb will cost $50. It’s still a great deal.

A fastidious ticket agent will wield the double-whammy of oversize baggage as well – $80, I think – on top of the overweight. That will hurt, but you know what? Still worth it.