Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's TOTALLY the little things

I'm currently about 35K words into the draft of my sequel. Truthfully, I'd hoped to make more progress this month. But I've caught myself stumbling around. Not on the big things. On the littlest of things. My main character needs to make a small movement. Something simple. Routine. For example, say Tanzy needs to move from one room, down a hall, and into another...

45 minutes pass

...Tanzy still needs to move from one room, down a hall, and into another. By now I've pulled out an unhealthy amount of hair, gone to the kitchen for some cookie dough, made hot chocolate, stared at my empty photo frame for inspiration, tried to get inside Tanzy's head (how does she FEEL about going down said hallway?! What color is it? What does she notice? What is she thinking about?) And then my head does somthing like this:

I can't get her down the damn hallway and in the next scene she's supposed to storm the castle/stop an anstroid from striking earth/save a basket of puppies adrift in shark infested waters?!

And then I get psyched out to the point of paralysis and Tanzy's feet root to the proverbial floor, which turns into quicksand and sucks us both under. And then my brain goes something like this: what the heck am I doing? I'm not a writer. The plot has gone to hell in a handbasket. I have no idea what I'm doing. The astroid hits, the princess is toast, the sharks are full.

Then, before I completely self destruct, I remember a helpful hint I got from my editor when she polished Tanzy's first adventure in preparation for publication: why not just let her walk down the hallway?


"Try this," she says. "I walk down the hallway."

I walk down the hallway.

Simple. Tidy. Perfect.

As writers, we know how important it is to develop our characters emotionally. We also know how important it is to paint a whole picture. When done correctly, we allow our readers to live in our stories. It's a beautiful thing. You know what else is beautiful? Our readers are smart. We don't have to fill every sentence with physical description and emotional reactions. Too much, and our writing becomes so bloated that the story gets lost in the flab. And that's what most people want in a book: a good story.

So if you have a moment when you can't get your character from point A to point B, remember what they taught you in geometry: the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

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Ramble on, y'all.