Weekend Writing Warriors: Anti-Cupids (Paramagnetic)

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Viv at work . . . though you’ll notice that coffee is also mentioned.  Surprise!


Viv came in early the next morning, as awake as half a pot of mocha roast could make her and relatively cheerful about it.   Several projects had been put on hold while everyone dealt with the software upgrade, and she didn’t want to play  catch-up any longer than she had to.

And as HR had decided that she didn’t rate a door or solid walls that touched the ceiling, they could deal with her coming in early enough to avoid the noise of her co-workers for an hour or so—and their complaints about her habit of humming the last song she’d heard on the radio as she pulled into the parking lot.

She highlighted a particularly obtuse sentence with a marker, scribbled a margin note to look up paramagnetic, and shoved the pencil into place behind her ear.

If she kept this up—or if the authors had kept assuming all of their readers were also genius biophysicists—the whole study would be colored orange and the glossary would outweigh it.

She heard keys and the squeak of a door handle.  “Morning, boss,” she called.

“Morning,” Stan said.  


I’m not a technical writer or a professional editor, but one of my good friends is a freelance editor and she hooked me up with a fantastic study for Viv to grumble over.  I myself understand about one sentence in eight of the real paper, but that’s not the fault of the authors or the actual editors.

That pencil thing?  That’s all me.  My record is five behind one ear, I think—I didn’t notice until I unknowingly tried for six and lost two of them down the back of my wrap.  It helps to have an earring stud way up at the top of the curve.

I love Stan, by the way.  I have lovely plans for Stan . . .


50 thoughts on “Weekend Writing Warriors: Anti-Cupids (Paramagnetic)

  1. Really nice–especially the part about wanting to get there early before her co-workers come in. I like to do that, too, except most of my co-workers get there at the same time–when I’m working, that is.

  2. I love the look into her character. I had a teacher who took excessive pride in how he got to school so early, he even had a key since he was usually there first. He was proud to tell us his new record, 5:50 AM.

  3. Problem is, just identifying the problems doesn’t make the ms any more understandable. (I actually got a job offer in writing once on the basis of a scientific paper I wrote which was understandable.)

    • You’re right, Sue Ann. The writers are going to have orange highlighter on their hands by the time they finish the next draft. Luckily, none of them will be doing so on-page. 🙂

    • Thanks, Veronica! 😀

      The humming is one of my habits, too, or so I’m told by my (unappreciative) co-workers . . . I’m susceptible to earworms!

  4. I love how, despite not being a morning person, she comes in early to avoid co-worker noise so she can get some work done. I’d do the same thing. (Except I am a morning persion…)

    • Thanks, Elaine—I wish I understood what that diagram meant. 😀

      Stan is a wonderful man and I’m going to make him the happiest secondary character ever.

  5. This had me flashing back to meetings–trying to cajole engineers into using English (and pin them down to a single explanation of an anomaly) so we could write PCNs. Not as easy as it sounds!
    Nice snippet! 🙂

    • Thanks, Kate. 🙂

      Stanley is a versatile name for a character, I think . . . A Stan can be anything from steady rock to a sleezebag to comic relief. I’m half in love with mine . . .

  6. Ah, scientists. I’m guessing their audience is not, in fact, “genius biophysicists.” It’s going to take a whole lot of coffee to get through that thing!

    I had to re-read the phrase “their complaints about her habit of humming the last song she’d heard on the radio as she pulled into the parking lot.” For a moment, I thought they were hearing her in her car, and that didn’t make sense.
    Anyone else get caught by that, or was it just me?

    • You’re right on all counts, Caitlin!

      Especially on that badly-flowing line . . . I’ve written it over seven or twelve times and it still doesn’t work. Any suggestions?

      • “…and her habit of humming the last song she’d heard on her car radio.”

        Maybe? Unless you need the ‘parking lot’ reference.

        Part of the problem is the ‘complaints’ I think.

        Because you basically have:

        [HR] could deal with her coming in early [..]—and their complaints about her habit […]

        But really you mean they have to deal with her being early, and her humming. Right?

        It’s so fun to share music with people. 🙂 I just showed someone “What Does the Fox Say” for the first time. (Evil laugh.)

        • I think you’re right and the parking lot has to go. I wish I could curb my tendency to pack everything I see into one sentence . . .

          I just heard “Fox” three days ago—it was a singular experience. Oddly enough, It didn’t stick (except for my kids singing it ever since), but one phrase of the Backstreet Boys’ “Larger than Life” has been rattling around in my head for the better part of a week. Brains are so weird.

        • I bet that will get old, quickly. It’s funny that they tried to make an ironic commentary on pop music, and it became popular because people didn’t get it.

          Brains are weird, indeed. But sometimes they’re awesome, so it kind of evens out.

  7. This is very vivid and very real, Sarah. You’re making her a 100% believable character. Nice job.

    I don’t do pencils behind my ear, but I’m horrible about clipping pens on the top of my shirt on my neckline. I never imagined…5! Awesome talent. 🙂

    • Thank you, Teresa!

      I don’t know if five pencils is awesome talent or a matter of large ears and a bad case of obliviousness, but I’ll take the compliment! 😀

    • Thanks, Cindy! 🙂

      I usually have to tear across town to pick up the kids from afternoon care, but on days I don’t, I often spend a little more time finishing up things. It’s relaxing.

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