Saturday, August 18, 2012
Pulling Back and Holding Back
I created these characters, they are my story people, even aspects of myself. I care about them and about what happens to them.
With my keyboard on a lap desk, I sat rocking back and forth in short jerky motions and wringing my hands.
"What's wrong?" Hubby asked.
"Bad things are happening."
"That's the kind of conflict you writer's work toward, isn't it?"
"Bad things are happening," I said in a rush. "I'm pulling back from the scene. They are in trouble, they are hurting, and I'm holding back."
First off, how could I write what's happening to them? Secondly, as a writer, how could I not? Worse yet, how could I hold back when such an important event was occurring in their story?
Writing fiction is about characters facing all sorts of external and internal conflicts. Conflict and the character dealing with that conflict is what moves fiction forward.
I owed my story people my best effort and enough respect to see their story journey is written as poignantly and intensely as possible. To do less would mean making them less of the characters they are to become.
With rapid mini-taps, I held my hands over the keyboard, touching, but not pressing the keys.
I closed my eyes. What would the character be feeling? Thinking? Physically experiencing?
Instead of pulling back and holding back, I determined to go deeper, to make things worse, so that what's going on will be the worst possible thing for that character to experience at that moment in the story.
While I keyed in on what my character was experiencing, I took note of what I felt as well. I worried for her well-being. I hurt for what she must go through. I was scared that I could not do the scene justice and that I wouldn't be able to embrace the conflict and let the story, the character, and my future readers down.
Feeling nervousness and fear, I breathed deeply and neither closed off those feelings or pushed them away. With tears gathering in my eyes, the keyboard keys blurry, I wrote.
After I finished the scene, I sat, shoulders slumped and head hanging.
"Still having trouble?" Hubby asked.
"No. My character is suffering."
Hubby patted my arm. "That means you did your job."