Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Shying Away in Your Writing

Happy Wednesday, good people of the blogosphere! Wow! It's hump day. We're halfway to the weekend and have a ton of awesome stuff done already, right? Well, you have just two more days until you get a couple off to lounge around and soak up some sun (don't forget your sunscreen!). Today, I'm gonna be talking about those hard to write scenes and why you should write what you feel; not what you think your readers want to read. Ready? Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going.

As you probably know, I review a good number of books here on the blog (at least twelve a year by Indies, and that number tends to go up as my favorite authors - both Indie and Traditionals - release new works). One thing I notice in the books I read is the author holding themselves back from writing a scene that may seem too graphic for their audience. No, I'm not talking about sex. I'm talking about violence, gore, and death.

If you're writing Young Adult, you do have to keep it toned down. That's not the genre I'm talking about here. However, you may reconsider your target audience if you come upon a scene you know will launch your story into a whole other realm. You feel me?

Most writers I know see the story take shape in their head as they put the words on the page. Things happen, characters act in their own way, and unexpected situations arise. Remember: A book isn't prime-time television, and you can write what you're seeing in the moment.

Let your fingers communicate what's in your head. If you see it on your inner-movie reel, put it on the page.

I can't stress this enough.

Here's some examples of lead-ups to scenes that you may shy away from writing:
Tiffany spun around the dark room; her eyes searching in the inky blackness for a visual to accompany the sounds her ears were picking up. Shuffling, grunts, and heavy breathing assaulted her most active sense. Arms out, she waves her hands through the air like she's swimming. Her heart is pounding, and she can smell metal. Something hard, cold, and rough is found. A wall. It must be a wall. Feeling her way along, she finds what she hoped for and pushes the switch to the on position. As the light fills the space, and her eyes adjust, her hands fly up to cover her mouth and muffle the scream building behind her lips.

Now, this can be a myriad of things:
  • People being eaten
  • A group of men ready to attack her
  • A group of women ready to attack her
  • Zombies
  • Vampires
  • Rats
  • Giant spiders
  • Clowns
I think you get the idea. Whatever happens next, you've built up that tension for a reason. Readers are waiting for what Tiffany is surprised by. Give it to them, and don't be shy. Go into detail about what she sees, smells, hears, feels, and tastes. If she's murdered, go into how. Torture? Give it raw. Write it exactly as you see it in your head.

Clark walked through the flower field, letting his hands graze the soft tops of the tall blooms. A breeze tickled the back of his neck and caused the tiny hairs there to stand on end. He's lost with thoughts of Delia to pay too much attention to the fact that the sun is setting, but the clearing is getting brighter by the moment. His ears pick up a whisper on the wind, and he freezes in place. Delia fades from his mind as a beautiful woman steps from the treeline and holds out her arms to him. Icy puffs of breath come from his mouth as it falls open. Heat spreads through his body as he takes in her form, and his fingers twitch to touch her alabaster skin--around which long, black hair twists and flows like a silk sheet in the breeze. Red lips that need no lipstick, blue eyes the color of the clear sky, and a Romanesque nose sized to perfection all beckon to him with promises of fantasies come true. If only he'll step into those open arms.

Again, you can take this in a million directions:
  • Death by haunting vixen
  • A quest
  • Ghostly encounters
  • Witches
  • Vampires
  • Myth and Lore
You get the picture, eh? Again, this is a tense scene. You've told your reader something big is coming because you've painted with your words. Bring it on. Don't leave them hanging and frustrated. Go where the wind takes you (hey, there's another idea!).

What I'm trying to get across here is: Don't let the audience dictate what you put on the page. If you end up with a novel geared toward an older, more mature audience, let it go. However, if you think Clark will end up whisked away to a land of fantasy and the story is supposed to start there, let it be so. But if another idea strikes you, let it come out. Write it two ways if you must and choose your favorite.

Whatever you do, don't shy away from the gore, death, or violence if the story calls for it. I'd be willing to bet that your YA brain already went with a quest (if that's what you write). Listen to your inner writer.

Have you ever ended up with a book totally different from the idea you began writing?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

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