Monday, 31 May 2010

CBC and a chem 7



Watch enough ER and you can convince yourself you’d be a bit handy in a real hospital ward. I’ve always been quite interested in medicine and have an occasional urge to see myself in those fetching blue scrubs.

Unfortunately, none of this second hand knowledge has prepared me for having to perform real life surgery. No, don’t worry, I’m not planning on giving my husband a DIY vasectomy or anything. I’m talking about the bloodless – but certainly NOT pain free – business of having to take a metaphorical scalpel to my novel.

You see, someone who really knows what they’re talking about has advised me to replace one storyline and completely cut another. ‘Fine,’ I said. ‘I can do that..’...as I walked away making that face Mrs Doyle used to do behind Father Ted's back.

First up, I asked some advice on the Writewords website and was given a wealth of great tips, including a brilliant spreadsheet, as blogged about by Emma Darwin. I set to with the scissors and highlighter pens and had a ball, making a massive chart for each branch of the story. It’s a brilliant way to see where all the changes have to be made, even for someone a bit phobic about spreadsheets like me [‘But it sounds like MATHS!!’ I wailed when it was first suggested to me].

Next up, I made two simple charts as Word docs, one for each storyline that had to be altered or deleted. In the first column I wrote what happened in the scene. In the second, I tried to work out exactly what that scene did. What was it for? Did it pay its way in the story or was it just there for decoration? In the third column, I tried to brainstorm other ways I could get the same effect. This process too was extremely illuminating, especially because the storyline that must die didn’t [ blush] turn out to do anything much, once looked at under those really bright operating theatre lights.

And that’s where I’m up to.

The patient has been prodded, poked and re-arranged and the operation is coming to an end. Their BP is normal and all is looking good.
Only...
...only, now comes the really scary bit. I somehow have to stitch them up and make sure they have a full recovery. How does the patient, I mean novel, become whole again, after all this fiddling? I don’t remember the details of this part of the proceedings from ER. My confidence is draining away by the second.

I need one of those brow wiping sponge thingies and I need it now.
Nurse!

9 comments:

Fidelity said...

Amusing and insightful, Caroline. My sister is a theatre nurse. I like to tell stories about how, when I used to go and visit her, I'd find her in the pub, with her husband, pissed as usual, and how she'd get these calls and have to go back into work immediately... not your normal heart surgery heroine. scary huh

Charmaine Clancy said...

I'm slashing my MS at the moment and I can happily say I should never be a doctor - I'm too uncertain about what should come out and what should be left behind.

CarolineG said...

Fidelity...I'm shuddering in horror at that story! Terrifying!

Charmaine, yes, that's my problem too...

Thanks, both, for your comments.

Luisa Plaja said...

Great piece, and best wishes to your manuscript for a very speedy recovery!

Geraldine Ryan said...

Lovely post, Caroline. I am so rooting for you!

Gillian McDade said...

I need to do an appendix operation on mine and remove three or four characters!

They served no purpose in the first place.

Great blog, Caroline :)

CarolineG said...

Thanks Luisa, Geri and Gillian.
Gillian, good luck for the surgery :)

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Hah, how timely - I just came out of hosp a few days ago! (Very glad I'm only reading Fidelity's post now).
That sounds very impressive and organised, Caroline.
Don't forget the body's natural regenerating ability - you may find those broken bones cleave together quite easily and naturally. :)
Very best of luck with it.
Susiex

CarolineG said...

Thanks Susie and hope you have a full recovery.