No Good Deed

By Ewan Lawrie

Moffat the Magniloquent along the Mississippi

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Who's On First?

Perhaps some of you are too young to remember the insanity of Abbott and Costello's vaudeville-rooted baseball routine "Who's on First." I pondered whether to put a question mark there, but in the end decided not to, as maybe that would give a clue to how this comedy schtick involves misunderstanding. If you don't know the routine, I mean. All grammar pedants (like me) should love this sketch.

Actually that's not really what this post is about. When I write anything, I am what they call a "pantster", someone who writes "by the seat of the pants". That is, without the aid of spreadsheets, index-cards, plot out-lines or anything like that. I do keep notebooks but they are filled with fragments that I use or don't, not with plans or ideas.

However, a theme running through No Good Deed (and present in Gibbous House) is deception, the gulling of fools. Moffat likens the plan for transportation of the Silver Bullion and Slaves to The Old Army Game, or The Pea and Shell Game or Find the Lady; all of which are based on the same principle of misdirection. Anyway, this means that there are two riverboats involved in the story and a trip up- and down-river for both of them. After catching myself with a character on two boats at the same time, I decided to fill in a table for that point in the novel. I keep this updated now. It does make it less fun though, for me.

 



But at least now I know who's on first.

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