Yesterday, I mentioned fighting with a scene in my head. It was one of those that grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let go. Every time I tried to think about my WIP, I couldn’t. These two got in the way. It began as a sort of fantasy and developed from there.
So I decided to just sketch out the scene. But a short paragraph of narrative would not do; they demanded more.
Fine, then: I began to tell their story. Again, I wanted to do this quickly so I could move on to the novel. Then something happened. I wrote the word “nervously.” OK, I know you’re not supposed to use adverbs while writing. But it wasn’t intended to be anything; I wasn’t “writing.” It was enough to give me pause, and I couldn’t leave it there. I asked myself how I could show he was nervous. Which then drew out that single sentence to an entire paragraph. I began to see the point of showing, not telling. I wish I’d taken this to heart back in November; I may have hit my 50K word NaNoWriMo goal.
At that point, I decided to challenge myself to show instead of tell whenever possible in this story. “They” say it depends on the scene: if it’s a simple one, no big deal. If there is tension, show it. Well, this entire scene in my head is tension, first word to last. And I’m learning a lot, just in those few pages that I have so far. While it’s a distraction from the WIP, at least it’s been an incredibly beneficial writing exercise. I already feel as though I can approach the novel again, better prepared.
There are two people in this scene, and I need to show both points of view. No head-hopping, though; this has to be done smoothly. And so at the same time that I’m attempting to find my own voice, I am developing these two separate, very distinct, voices that appeared out of nowhere–another challenge in the craft of writing. I have to say, it’s so much easier to work on these in a new piece of fiction than it is to go back and fix what I already have; starting fresh is a relief, and affords me more opportunities for creativity and experimentation.
Meanwhile, the writing exercise…the paragraph of narrative I’d intended to jot down and then re-visit at a later date is turning into a short story. I have no idea what to do with it, however; if it ends as I think it will, the only way it can, there is no HEA (happily ever after). So no romantic anthologies will want it. There’s sex, somewhat explicit, so that lets out a lot of typical short story venues. I think it will finish at about 5000 words, so it’s too short for some erotica sites. I will have to explore this further.
Right now, I need to return, because they are calling me back. I sort of left them hanging last night, after 2300 words, and they’re a little…anxious, shall we say? And truth be told I’m rather anxious myself, to finish their story, so I can get back to the novel.
Is this what it’s like to be a writer, then? To constantly struggle with the many scenes, the characters, the plot ideas in my head? Forming a sort of triage arrangement, deciding who gets attention first, and who needs to wait their turn, impatiently, in a corner of my mind? I picture it as the waiting room in the movie “Beetlejuice.” Where’s the witch doctor?