Thursday, October 23, 2008

One week countdown, and I make a scene

I've finished writing for today, Thursday. There's a week to go before my self-imposed deadline of October 30th. By then I hope to have the final chapters of Kindred written. Not polished, mind, just written.

Knowing my pace (even this current breakneck pace) and how much I have left to write, it'll come down to the wire. I wrote the last of the story climax scenes today, in which plot threads come together and lots of action happens. It's still more than a little rough. It doesn't yet carry the emotional punch I hope it will. But it's out and, as writer Diana Gabaldon has said, "You write first... and then the magic happens."

That certainly holds true for this writer. I have to get something, anything--no matter how rough--onto the screen before my mind can sink below the surface of a scene and start uncovering the deeper layers.

Speaking of scenes. Yesterday morning I sat down to write a confrontation where Ian and one of my villains finally have it out, a conflict that's been brewing over the course of the book. Then a violent disaster follows on the heels of that fight. The scene wasn't going be one of those that come tripping out almost faster than I can get the bare bones of it down. Not at all. What I'd written of it so far had come word by reluctant word, teased, cajoled, yanked, forced out of my head. When I sat down yesterday morning to continue that battle, I couldn't shake a very different image from my mind. It was a golden, pensive image of Ian in a tobacco barn alone. The smell of the leaf and the warm fall of the light was so vivid, the wistful sorrow in Ian's chest and the weight of regret upon him was so compelling, I knew I needed to pursue that image and find out what it was about, and where it might fit into the story.

Talk about words flowing. This little chunk just about wrote itself. A rare and beautiful thing. An hour or so later, I was emailing a 700 word scene off to a friend who has three children, because it ended up having a lot to do with breastfeeding (how'd I make the jump from Ian in a tobacco barn to breastfeeding? That's for me to know and.....). Since I've never had children, I always run these sorts of scenes past someone who has, to be sure I have the details right.

With that unexpected bit satisfactorily out of my head and onto the screen, I moved on to that fight scene. Fight scenes are tough for me to write. As my friend, Joan (author J.M. Hochstetler and owner/publisher of Sheaf House Publishers) said in a recent email conversation, "fight scenes and battles are tremendously hard to write. You have to "choreograph" them step by step so the reader can see the action clearly, but the description takes a lot of words and space. So you have to somehow make it read fast to give the impression of the scene moving along in real time so the reader doesn't get bogged down."

At dinner last night I told my husband about my writing day, which had gone well but not totally according to plan. I talked about how much work I still had to do, how every moment counted between now and the end of next week, but how pleased I was with that unexpected inspiration first thing that morning, and the results of an hour's work.

After I'd gone on at some length and with increasing intensity, about how this image of Ian in the barn wouldn't leave me be, and how I threw caution to the wind and spent an hour writing an almost dialogueless (is that a word?) exchange between Ian and Seona, even though I really needed to press on with the plot-heavy climax scenes and then what lies beyond them, my husband swallowed a mouthful of the vegetable stew I'd thrown together for dinner and said, "So... you're saying you made a scene today?"

Guess you could put it that way, dear, and thanks for making me take myself and this book a little less seriously. Sometimes I need that. *smile*

3 comments:

  1. Hey, Lori, I sure do relate, both with the struggle to write a scene that keeps resisting all your efforts, and with having it flow so easily it pretty much writes itself. Aren't those moments what we write for--that feeling of being one with the universe and God and humanity all at once? It's a beautiful thing....

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