Basket weaving 101

I gave up knitting long ago, don’t ask me why. I guess too many dropped stitches and losing track of the pattern discouraged me. Still, I recently decided I wanted something to do with my hands.

So I took up basketry. Afraid that that weaving baskets might be as daunting as knitting, I took a one-day course on making pine-needle baskets. Sounded easy. All you need are pine needles, a (steel) needle, and raffia. And then you go round and round, somewhat like making a clay coil pot.

 I should have known better Nothing is easy. But the movement is soothing, so I’ve kept at it. I think each little basket is just a smidgen improved over the one before it. And I’ve learned something with each one.

You need a good foundation. Unless you get those first, crucial rounds right, nothing you can do will make the rest come out the way you want it.

You need to maintain the coils of pine needles so they are of an even thickness throughout. Otherwise, your basket will will come out lopsided. Same with the width between rows of stitches. You can see where I have some too close together and some too far apart.

You need to be careful whenever you add a new length of raffia. If you weave in the loose ends carelessly, your basket will have lumpy places or stitches where you don’t want them.

So,  in the end, I am still losing the pattern and dropping (or adding) stitches. I’m not discouraged, though. I can see progress, and I feel  the next basket will come out the way I want it.

I work on the my baskets when I need a respite from editing. I had ordered a proof copy of “When He Said Goodbye” and found, to my dismay, some typos that had escaped detection. And, to be honest, there were places I felt a another word would be better. Or where a sentence simply wasn’t necessary.

So that I would not gloss over the same mistakes that had eluded me earlier, I started at the back of the book and read each sentence in reverse order.  Its a tedious process, but it works. Errors become clear. But reading backwards tires the eyes more than just reading, so I needed frequent breaks.

Maybe writing and weaving baskets aren’t so different.  Start out without a plan and you will soon find your story off course with no prayer of getting it back. Dialogue, action, and narrative need to be balanced. Introduce new plot lines carefully or you will lose track of the main story. You should have an idea of where the story is going and what the end result will look like.

I hope to have the book published within the next few weeks. I need to finish it (although to be honest, I could keep fining ways to improve it every time I read it) because I am eager to start on the next book that is now taking up space in my head.

My ambition is to have it be an improvement over my last book, just as the next basket will be better than the one before it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, Sweet Mystery…

The writers I admire most are those who write mysteries. Cozy mysteries,  thrillers, historical — you name it.

I guess it’s because I am a pantser.  I create a character and send her in search of a plot.  Only when I am halfway into the story do I sit down and try to figure out where I’m going with it.

You are correct in that it doesn’t always work.  In the best case scenario, it takes a lot of rewriting and revision to end up with a story that flows from beginning to end.

But that’s how I do it. If I sat down and plotted the entire novel before I began writing, I would lose interest and it would never get written.

A writer of mysteries has to be a big-time plotter. She needs to know who the killer is before she starts, and then work in clues throughout the story that lead to the climax.  It’s like working backward.

If she does it right, the reader can say at the end, “Aha! I should have seen that coming.” Because you don’t want the killer to come out of nowhere like the Greek deus ex machina. There has to be a logical solution.

The mystery that did this the best was “The Sixth Sense.” My husband and I went back to see it a second time just so we could pick out the clues we missed the first time.

So a big hand to all the mystery writers who keep us guessing — and keep us reading.

Good job!

its-a-mystery-500x325

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