Monday, January 23, 2006

Out of My Brain and on To the Paper

What do you do when you can't translate what's in your brain to your story? As an author, it can be incredibly frustrating. We can see our characters clearly, we know what makes them tick, we know their quirks and their fears...all things we need to know to make them real.

But what happens when we don't get that down?

I have a character, Camilla, who loves to sing -- even though she can't carry a tune in a bucket. But, do I have her do her karaoke thing in the book? Nope. I have a picture in my head of her dancing around in her lingerie to some silly seventies disco song ("Shake your groove thang, yeah, yeah"), but it never happens. Why not??

Liv is helpless in the home: can't cook, can't clean. I wanted to thrust her into a situation where she had to do those things, and watch her struggle through them. Did I do that? W-e-e-e-l-l-l-l-l... sort of. But not to the extent I had envisioned in my brain.

Also in Liv's story, I have critters. She hates critters. I had scenes in my head of great things involving the critters and Liv. Did they happen? Uh. No.

What the sam hill is going on here?? I'm the writer. I control the scenes. So why isn't this coming out the way I had planned? The depth I long for isn't there. It's in my head, but not on the paper.

I moderate a romance writing group at WVU. Last week I posted a writing prompt that involved using several seemingly unrelated words in a short piece. It was great fun and I think all the members had a blast using it. I remember reading over what I wrote and thinking "Now, that's the kind of detail I want in my regular writing!" Because I had to find a way to use these odd words, I took careful note of the things going on around my characters: sugar packets, toilet paper on a shoe, polyester pants, the color of the booth seat, the waitress's expressions... it was, IMHO, one of the richer scenes I've written in quite a while.

Now, I just need to do the same thing with the story I hope to get published. Sheesh... what does it say about me when my throw-away pieces are better than my novel?

1 comment:

Judy said...

IMHO, it means that in your throw-aways (and I don't think that should be throw-away, btw... it was a great scene!) you turn off the internal editor and just have fun with it. Just for a lark... take a scene out of Liv Leigh. If you can... forget it's for the novel. Just sit down and have fun with it. It can't hurt and it might bring out something inside you that you're blocking when you are "working" on your novel.