Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2012 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved
out [MH2] , Mel Pinlow waylaid her
. “Nice going, Ms.
Executive. You’ve certainly proven how easy you are to work with. You’re sure
to get on Mr. Hawkesclyffe’s good side with your winning attitude—and Jerry
Vickie kept walking. “Cut it out Mel. I’m not in the mood for it.”
“You’re sure in some kind of mood. What’s the matter, Vickie? That time of the month?”
He laughed, a kind of a wheezy, choked sound. “Oh, that’s rich. You’re so sheltered Vickie. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
And Sir Humphrey Hawkesclyffe
could open doors for you that you’ve never dreamed of. Too bad for you.”
“It’s Cliff now, is it? Well, maybe you can get back in his good graces…and saying yes is not such a bad idea for a girl in your position.” He winked slyly at her.
He gave her one final leer
sharply on the tile floor. ‘I’ve got to get out of here ,’ she realized[MH6] , ‘before
I kill[MH7] someone. Preferably Mel, although I’d
give that truck of a man in the conference room a try. ’
Tess caught up to
the main lobby of Fitzwater Software. “Don’t let Mel bother you
Vickie. He does that to all the women.”
know. But as long as I don’t lower my
professional standards to his, I don’t really care what he tries to pull.” ‘Or lower my standards to match Sir
Humphrey’s bargain basement professional ethics[MH9] .’
As if she
were reading Vickie’s mind, she said, “And I don’t think you’ll have to apologize too much to Mr.
that’s different. He’s the boss. Yes, indeed , Sir Humphrey.
I’ll see to it that I do lower my professional standards for him.”
her friend as Vickie stomped out the door. “Lower her professional standards for Sir
Humphrey Hawkesclyffe?” she muttered. “Hmphf. More like
lower her personal
She left the freeway, unconsciously taking the route she usually did when she wanted to work out a particularly knotty problem. But there was no problem here. Oh, no, Cliff was not a problem.
he wasn’t .
, the best thing for him would be assassination. ‘No, best not.
It’s bound to [MH10] get you talked about,
cruising for an early grave, anyway . His last
few performances were pretty
pitiful , and he’s getting
a bad reputation for
throwing tantrums whenever his plans are
foiled by reality .’
Cliff, on the other hand, would probably be completely in control of reality,
be unmoved by a
tantrum, let alone throw one.
[MH1]So Eliza Knight's comment was--why doesn't Vickie want this position besides Cliff? It's great money, prestige. I thought about that and realized she was right (naturally :) and that Vickie, a strong, woman, would suck up her libido and just get the job done.
So I needed more of a reason for her not to want the management position. I already had a partial motive--she'd had a fiance at her first job and when their relationship fell apart so did her job--but the more I thought about it, the more that wasn't satisfying. It was backstory that could have happened to anybody and indeed did happen to Liese in Biting Me Softly (and to my mind was much stronger there).
I wanted a motive that arose out of Vickie's character, her particular strengths and weaknesses. And then I got it.
Vickie is a people person. She loves being on a team and is the person who smooths things over. She doesn't seem to be special in and of herself but she makes everyone else on the team shine. She's the synergy. She's the Dua in the three-way aliens from Isaac Asimov's The Gods Themselves.
It fell into place. The worst thing I could do to her was push her into a situation where she's the sole lead. The hard-nosed commander rather than the Earth Mother healer. And I added this snippet of backstory.
[MH2]With the inserted scene there's a delay between her leaving and Mel waylaying her. This bridges the gap.
[MH4]One of the things I've had to battle is a mushy progression of thought--that is, "A, so C!" Clearer and better is "A, then B, then C."
[MH5]Tells. I deleted this and put Vickie kicked back into motion, her heels clicking sharply to SHOW that's enough.
[MH9]Sometimes it amazes me how much I write based on character dynamics I've imagined but haven't really shown. This seemed perfectly reasonable when I wrote it but editing hit me as totally unfounded, coming out of nowhere. So I cut it.
[MH10]This section starts with a single quote. In the old days, that was the way internal dialog was noted. Now italics is the norm.
[MH11]I've been editing this in chunks, working back and forth only as necessary. I think I took out the section that introduces this concept (Mel and Cliff are cut from the same rotten cloth) but don't remember.
When preparing a manuscript for final submission, I follow a three-step process, of which the first is a readthrough for timeline, character inconsistencies, and plot inconsistencies.
If I took out the introducing, that would be something I'd catch in the readthrough.