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author

Just a note. I changed "teal dress" to "blue flowers" on the second reference because I wanted to see you begin to burn the language as we approach chaos. The mucous plug is chaos, so your language should suffer and become more intuitive from that point forward.

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Reading this lead to cries of, 'Fuck yeah!' Thank you so much for this deep dive. Incredibly helpful and insightful. With this I can see how the rest of the story can be shaped particularly around picking up guns and really going on the body. I know I held back in terms of visceral language so will now enjoy getting down and dirty with my descriptions. Really given me lots to think about and renewed energy. Thank you again. Also, 'burn the language as we approach chaos' might be something I stick on my laptop! Thanks!

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May 20, 2022·edited May 20, 2022

Actually the dress is a 'tea dress', a casual dress often favoured by mothers-to-be as it's quite loose. However, I can see it's a redundant detail and actually like turning into a teal dress. And who doesn't love cornflower blue?

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author

Sorry that's MY typo. Another reason I wanted blue flowers brought back is because it resonates with the blue tongues and cupcakes. And the poison forget-me-nots on the toilet floor.

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By the way, I wanted to ask about the rebel/passive/narrator set-up. You said the self-destruction of the passive prompts the execution of the rebel. In terms of pacing and tension, should this be one immediately following the other?

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author

Most times the death of the martyr is followed very closely by the murder of the rebel. That crowds all the drama toward the climax, which is what you want: to keep the tension paying forward until you resolve it quickly.

To kill the martyr early you risk that drama being forgotten by the time the rebel is killed.

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Thanks, Chuck. Very helpful in terms of when to kill them off.

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I get the ‘laminated eyebrows’ because when they are tattoed they can look shiny. Also if everyone is getting the same fashionable shape, they could look like photocopies of each other. Great read!

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Thank you, Kathy! I like the idea of these women being like photocopies. I think I may pull that through into the longer story. Thanks again!

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founding

Wow this is good! Great first chapter, Katy. The language and detail are scrumptious. And Chuck, your penchant for taking it “too far” is part of your charm. I, too, have had the Goldschlager splats (long ago, thankfully). Little touches of disgusting make it real for me.

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Thank you, Jake! I love the idea of nasty descriptions being scrumptious. Like when you get a perfectly fried peri peri chip in a box of otherwise limp fries.

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As promised I've stolen Charlie's idea for my Substack, only called it 'Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t'. It's been a huge success so thanks Charlie.

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founding

Love this!

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May 20, 2022·edited May 20, 2022

Thank you, Chris!

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The story I'm working on, every list is a list of three. Kidding. Have you ever done a post featuring all the small things a writer can do to increase or prolong tension? Make it a Top 10 list, that'd be so cool.

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author

Good idea. I'll start collecting notes.

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Here's one for the list. Use silence in dialogue.

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+1 for this. I could use help on this big time.

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founding

Yes. I want this.

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Would be usefull for sure

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Since i'm aware of it, i see series of three in everything i read.

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YES!

I was the same way. As someone who loved how jokes were made, I've noticed that same series of three. Then I just put that rule into writing. But I learned, within the last year or so, that you don't always have to use a series of three. You can do two or four. And just by being different from the series of three, you can create tension.

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I've coincidentally had a tendency to do four. It upends reader expectations, even for me while re-reading.

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This has voice. I loved it. The mucus plug/oyster is wonderful.

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Thanks very much, Robb! I consider them equals in terms of their nastiness.

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Yeah, I love seafood but I'm not an oyster fan. Wife loves them. I was kind of expecting Ella or Brandon to eat the 'mucus plug' though. ;)

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I love this!!!

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Excellent rundown of Katy's Cradleland chapter. It read smooth and intuitively. Laminated eyebrows were a bit jarring, mostly because I wasn't aware that such a procedure exists. Instead, I was trying to make a connection between laminated brows and parquet flooring because I'm familiar with laminated floors.

I also had to look up "mucus plug". I couldn't quite imagine it, until I checked the pictures. I think it would actually be fun if maybe-Harriet would slurped it as an oyster...

I personally didn't find the "you mean - " and other phrases without attribution jarring, as I read it as if someone random just said that.

And I like the idea with toilet glitter! Not only it's neat, but it's an great example of minimalism, to reuse the objects and add onto their value.

Thank you so much for sharing.

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Thanks, Arem! Another vote for toilet glitter! Laminated brows are something I am only dimly aware of and the fact it jarrs here is really helpful feedback. Thanks again.

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You're welcome Katy, glad I could be somehow useful.

I mean it jars because I don't know what it is. If you write for someone who is familiar with the term, then I guess it's alright.

Then again, (on second thought), it's quite clear from the context that it's some cosmetic procedure. It's quite possible that if Chuck wouldn't highlight it, I'd just skimmed it. Maybe it's not as jarring as I originally thought... Maybe it's just fine and I learned something new.

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Wow, great story and great use of minimalism rules. The part "It’s when the perineum splits right up to your asshole. " make me think of "le point du mari" meaning "the husband's stitch".

When perineum splits, in some hospitals, they propose to add an extra stitch so the vagina would be tighter and the husband will be happier...

Sometimes they don't even ask and just do it, sometimes they just ask the husband.

After having this extra stitch some women can't bend without awfull pain , they can't tie their shoes no more. It's so wrong and they still do it these days.

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Thanks, David! Actually a friend of mine had that procedure. She told the doctor, 'Sew it up like a mouse's ear.'

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author

Okay, one of the maybe relatives must say that.

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author

Yow, and I thought an episiotomy sounded painful.

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The first poop after giving birth is no stroll through Disneyland either.

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author

And... one of the maybe relatives must say that, too.

Have you read Karen Karbo's book "Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me"? She got slightly crucified for its lack of sentimentality.

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Nope, but I will grab a copy. I think sentiment over sentimentality will always go further in making an honest emotional impact.

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founding

One of my favorite stories of all time is "The Husband Stitch: by Carmen Maria Machado. It's brilliant.

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Thank you for sharing this, Katy. It is very well written. The mucus plug/oyster was a great twist

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Thank you, Chris!

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“Not that she ever would. Not that she ever did.” - beautiful chorus. I love the sense of menace that arises from its repetition. To me, the effect transformed the chorus from a judgy attitude to an obvious lie. Also, great combo of head and heart authority! And I also think a hyphen for the “maybe [name]” would clarify that Ella can’t remember their names ... without the hyphen, I read it as Ella not caring to distinguish who was who, like they were interchangeable harpies (which also works!)

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Thanks, Wil! And I agree on the hyphens as it really changes the tone. Thanks for reading!

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author

Notice how nicely it allows us to move past a troubling topic without resolving it? Thus it allows tension to accumulate.

It's the equivalent of "Must be seven minutes after the hour" or "A Jewish baby has just been born."

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founding

Hi Katy!

So glad to see the deep dive on this one. I read this awhile ago and was impressed with how you hit on all these gritty aspects of motherhood that are so very relatable. How even though you “prepare” for childbirth and what comes after, the true aftermath is so shocking that yes, you really would find women standing around in a group talking about how it's understandable to shake a baby.

Other loves:

-“Did Ella know that on a bad day, the cry of a new-born is the same decibel level as a chainsaw”

-“A choke of women” - what a telling unit of measurement for a group of women; love it.

Chuck and Katy—I didn’t stumble on laminated brows, but only because it is a trend I’ve recently discovered prior to reading the story.

Loves continued:

-How they’re serving the buffet of food forbidden for the pregnant lady to eat at her own damn baby shower.

-The popping bellybutton.

-“Maybe” before the names. Am I reading it correctly that she’s unsure about the names? If yes, I love that. I wonder if it would be a little more clear if you added a hyphen. “Maybe-Harriet” for example. Maybe that’s unnecessary. :) Ha! Just got to Chuck’s comment, he suggested it too.

-The mention about autism and c-sections being linked. Putting fear in an already tense situation of being pregnant. So great. And extra kudos because you made me look up whether or not that tidbit was true (I ended up having to have c-sections with my boys). Same praise for including the breastfeeding vs. formula. So judgey, and only when you become a mother without milk do you realize that formula may be the only option. Love all these details of judginess and fear-mongering you’ve included.

Really great job. Would read more. Keep at it.

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Thanks, Maegan! And thank you for own deep dive. The idea of toxic females/Instagram Mothers intrigues me and how new mothers can feel set up to fail or outcast if they step outside the 'norm'. Then I thought, There has to be scope for some really nasty horror in this. Not sure exactly which way the horror will go, but hoping to make it disgusting as well as frightening. I learned a phrase during some safeguarding training that to be a parent, 'good enough is good enough. Until you're not. Then you have to be perfect.' I'm looking forward to taking that up a few notches. Thanks again for reading!

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I also like the idea of when those odd bits of information people hear blow up into irrefutable fact i.e. c section babies will be autistic, bottle-fed babies won't bond, Tom and Jerry makes them sociopaths etc. You know, just to really shit up a first time mum!

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Awesome job! I can't tell you how many points resonated with me having:

a) recently had a baby (well 2 and a bit years) and having constant judgement both before and after birth

and

b) being brought up with children's parties at Sunday school halls; the entire passage had me remembering details of my own knees sliding around parents drinking crap coffee

The whole thing feels very British (but I don't know if I'm just imposing my own memories on things here)

Really slick style. Good work Katy, I look forward to reading more.

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Thanks, Matt! And you're correct, a very British setting in the church hall you end up going to for Sunday school, Scouts, weddings, wedding receptions, after school clubs, any community event ever.

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Has anyone looked through the comment section of a popular YouTube video and found the most clever, hilarious responses? I wanna ask Chuck, can a writer use these comments in their work?

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author

Good point. I'd wager that in most cases the author tweaks the comment to make it fit better. That should allow for use.

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Yes, I do this a lot. And I use comments from Facebook or wherever else and tweak them. And here’s my big thing..... One of my favorite things to do on YouTube is to follow channels of very strange people. People who have less than a thousand subscribers.

There is this one guy who I love to watch his videos to see how he interacts with people and how he more or less manipulates them. He’s pretty much trying to start a right wing cult up in Maine and gets all these people to donate to him. Lots of scripture reading and daily sermons. Very David Koresh.

The funniest part is he told me in a private chat that he’s actually a socialist and is trying to get these people to accept those ideals but they “aren’t ready for it yet”... He told everyone to stop working to protest the government and they gobbled it right up. It’s a real hoot. What the guy’s actual intentions are, I don’t know. He is a real trip.

He has an entire Telegram Channel with hundreds of people in it that are setting up their own doomsday bunkers and stocking up on heirloom seeds and preserved food. The Telegram Channel chat is NUTS. He’s a writer as well. He uses tons of mind games to gain pity and sympathy from people. I think he’s convinced some to move into his area.

Anyway, watching strange channels made by real people on YouTube is something I couldn’t recommend more. It’s given me a lot of inspiration on building out-of-the-box characters that I never could have come up with on my own.

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Great, visceral descriptions! You had me existing right there, alongside Ella.

I also really liked the use of "Maybe Denise, Maybe Alex, etc." to signify how little these people matter to her. It's great because it allows the reader to not care either, which makes it easier to read. However, I do think using hyphens, like Chuck suggested, (i.e. Maybe-Denise, Maybe-Alex) would help the reader be less likely to get tripped up.

Thanks for sharing, Katy.

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Thanks, Matt! I'm definitely onboard with they hyphens now. Thanks for reading.

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I really liked the idea of two Lauras and feel like that could have been played for more humor, which would allow for more ratcheting of tension later. Just a thought.

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Katy, Great opening chapter which I (as mother of 3) can relate to. I'm so glad I'm not alone in my morbid thoughts. Go for the visceral! And Chuck's comments were very helpful as usual. The misunderstanding about "tea dress" is funny.

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Thank you, Nanako! I love getting into the visceral side and now feel I can really let rip.

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