Friday, December 7, 2012

Hot Chips and Sand 51-55 Second Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2012 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved

So she was going to manage a huge project with a ginormous budget and a team of the best tech people, many of whom also happened to be friends. So what? It wasn’t anything she hadn’t done before.
Been there, done that.
Failed miserably.
Chapter 5Five
                        Out in the hallVickie’s first job out of college was heaven. She got paid, and paid well, to work with a wonderful, creative, tight-knit bunch of young people.
Her favorite work was as part of a team. Every team she was on bonded well and generated tons of energy and ideas. She loved the work, but more, she loved the people, the environment.
But she especially loved facilitating other people’s success. Her own work was good, but helping others shine made her glow with happiness.
In those days she made many friend, but two were special.
One was her BFF Elissa, a tall hip-haired brunette who favored cowboy boots, pipeleg jeans and hugs. She introduced Vickie to bar shots and line dancing. But when the job needed to get done, no one stayed later or worked harder than Elissa. And she loved Vickie.
The other was Ron, who was classic tall, dark and handsome. A decent analyst and a sharp dresser, Ron’s goal was to run his own company and retire at fifty. Vickie was flattered the first time he asked her out and thrilled when six months later, he presented her with the pearl and diamond engagement ring.
Then the first promotion came, to project manager. It went to Vickie.
Ron took an active interest in her success and at the time she thought he was being helpful, although later she would see it as living vicariously through her. Only months after it was over would she see the latent jealousy.
But she was ecstatic when he brought her books with titles such as Top Down Management—Being Hard But Fair and The Stick, Not the Carrot: Why Workers Don’t Want To Work.
She tried following the books’ instructions, following Ron’s daily and sometimes hourly advice. She really did. But she was never good enough for him. Never autocratic enough.
And things changed around her. When she had to reprimand Elissa—hard but fair—their relation was never the same. Workers who had been friends grumbled. She found herself using the Stick far more than the Carrot. Even teams she’d worked so smoothly with before disintegrated.
Ron went from disappointed to criticism to outright scolding. She never quite figured out how it happened but they argued more and more until he broke off their engagement.
Those were her memories of being a manager.
She hated it. She hated what it did to her, making her sharp and critical. She hated what it did to her relations, breaking friendships.
To top it all off, upper management was disappointed in her performance and froze her out. She received no more promotions, only the worst of projects, and was stuck in a position she hated and wasn't good at. She left.
Now Cliff wanted her to do it again.
No way in hell.[MH1] 
* * * * *
As she swept out of the meeting room[MH2] , Mel Pinlow waylaid her.  in the hall. “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 Fitzwater’s, too.”
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 forAll you have to do is cooperate. But you’re too stubborn.”
            “I don’t believe it, Mel. She stopped. “Whether I’m stubborn or not, [MH4] Cliff didn’t get where he is today by indulging in bevies of yes‑men—or women.”
“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. “Or rather a girl in the right position might get him to say yes.”
            Enough was enough.  [MH5] “Mel, don’t you have work to do?” sheShe smiled sweetly, but her teeth were clenched.
He gave her one final leer as he, and left.  Vickie’s
Vickie kicked back into motion, her heels clickedclicking sharply on the tile floor.  ‘I’ve got to get out of here ,’ she realized[MH6] , ‘before I killhurt[MH7]  someone. Preferably Mel, although I’dshe’d give that truck of a man in the conference room a try.
            The way Cliff had cut offcutting her questions in the conference room,off. Mel’s triumphant smile afterward, and especially Mel’s very condescending attitude just now made her wonder, though. . Her blood pressure rose. Maybe Mel was right. Maybe Cliff did want yes‑men.  Maybe Cliff and Mel were more alike than she realized.
            That did not light favorably on Cliff.  Vickie sighed.  Her knight in shining armor was looking very rusty indeed.
Tess caught up to herVickie in the main lobby of Fitzwater Software. “Don’t let Mel bother you Vickie.  He . You know he does that to all the women.”
            “It’s just tooTess laughed. “Too bad he gets away with it.”
“Yeah, I 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] .’Or imply. A girl in the right position. I mean really.
Tess shrugged.  As if she were reading Vickie’s mind, she said, “And I don’t think you’ll“Well, hopefully you won’t have to apologize too much to Mr. Hawkesclyffe.”
            Vickie gritted her teeth again. “Me, apologize to him? What did I do wrong?” Vickie stopped abruptly. First Phil, then Mel, and now Tess of all people were throwing that man up at her as if he were perfectly wonderful. Oh sure, he was rich and successful and blazingly handsome. So? Did that make him better than herperfect?
            Vickie’s heels starting ringing onPurr-fect, maybe. She grimaced mentally. Stupid attraction.
Tess shrugged. “Well, Mr. Hawkesclyffe is the floor again.  client. And our boss, now.”
“Oh, sure, Tess, that’s different.  He’sSir Humphrey is the boss. Yes, indeed, Sir Humphrey. . I’ll see to it that I do lower my professional standards for him.”
            Tess stopped She whirled and stalked away.
Tess stared after her friend as Vickie stomped out the door.  “Lower her professional standards for Sir Humphrey Hawkesclyffe?” she muttered.  “Hmphf.  More like lower her your personal guard.”,” she yelled after her.
            VickieVickie slammed into her car and tore out of the parking lot. She was halfway home before she realized she hadn’t canceled the dinner date. What time had he said he would pick her up?  About, about six? She grimaced. Well, after that argument, Cliff would never come to get her.  Vickie was sure of thatbe the one to cancel. Guys didn’t like women who argued with them; big alpha guys who were used to running the show wouldn’t stand for it.
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.Sure he wasn’t.
Sure he wasn’t.            As for
She consciously switched her thoughts away from Cliff, to Mel, the. Ah yes, Mel. The best thing for him would be assassination.  ‘No, best not.  It’s bound to Not really. [MH10] It would get you talked about,her bad press and he’she was cruising for an early grave, anyway.  His, his last few performances were performance reviews pretty pitiful, and he’s getting. Not to mention a bad reputationrep for throwing tantrums whenever his plans arewere foiled by reality.’ …which didn’t apply to her, right? She hadn’t thrown a tantrum. She had voiced reasonable doubt.
Cliff, on the other hand, would probably be completely in control of reality, and would be unmoved by aany 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.

***Spoiler here***

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.

 [MH3]"Hit" is a bit bald and cliche

 [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.

 [MH6]Filter words. Not necessary.

 [MH7]Violent and a bit cliche

 [MH8]Extra words make sentences bloated and cumbersome.

 [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.

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