The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Proceeding cautiously, without pushing it. I did work on something I was a little reluctant to approach today, because it's a scene where beloved Dad is humiliated in front of his son.

Every writer I know tries to write around something at one time or another. By that I mean writing around some conflict that needs to be in the story, but that makes you, the writer, uncomfortable. Sometimes you're trying to protect your character, sometimes you're trying to protect yourself--but in either case, what it does is lead the ms astray and lessen tension/conflict. It messes up the story.

How do you tell the difference between this and not wanting to write something because your gut knows it's wrong for the ms? I'm not sure. But I think today's initial reluctance was a case of protecting myself, and that it was best to write through it. For one thing, now that I've worked on this part, I see that it really is probably a good idea to try to stick with "emotional points" for now. This scene is one that defines the MC and propels his story, that builds emotionally to what used to be the beginning-that-came-out-of-nowhere. If I don't wince and wimp out of scenes like this, I feel that I will eventually emerge at the old beginning, which will now be who-knows-how-far into the book, but which will also feel smooth and right while carrying momentum and direction.

That's the hope, anyway. One can dream.

There is a certain piece I know I need to write, but don't know how to approach. I don't know how harsh I ought to get with the reader this early in the ms. I'm perfectly willing to do dead bodies and bloodshed, if that's what it takes--but will bodies and bloodshed spur and engage the reader and get them* on board with the MC, or will it be author-intrusive and lessen the impact of whatever I need to do later on? How much is too little and how much is too much? I don't know. I know that most times when I write tears or laughter, I have to go back and cut it, because it is meaningless. Telling the reader that the MC is sobbing or roaring with laughter doesn't do squat. The harder you try to describe that sort of thing, the less it works. Maybe this is the same thing. Maybe underplaying is best. But if I underplay it, where's the urgency, the threat? Don't know. Must think.

* This is another case of "correct" grammar being wrong and stupid. It's stupid to have to say "his" when a reader can be of either gender, and it's stupid to have to say "his or her" because that's bulky and long, and the extra words distract from whatever the point of the sentence is.

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