Writing Challenge Part 2: Return Of The Naked, Sweaty Torso

Yesterday we discussed how obsessive we writers can get about a scene, sometimes about just a few lines. (Click HERE for that display of OCD.)

A naked, sweaty guy had to tie a t-shirt around himself to cover up.

Simple enough, right? And yesterday we tested whether such shirt-wearing techniques were possible. They were. I did a video proving it. So I rewrote the scene and showed you guys. Recapping the test and the subsequent scene:

We had a more or less naked guy

We had a t-shirt

We had a woman shaking her head saying, “Tsk, tsk… nope.”

The woman wasn’t actually in the scene; she was my Critique Partner who, after much jumping-through-hoops to satisfy her, noticed it still didn’t quite work.

Uh… should we recap AGAIN?

Naked? Check

T-shirt? Check.

Wrote a scene people generally said worked? Check.

CP still shaking her head.

WHAT, already???

He wasn’t sweaty. The story says a naked sweaty guy and the tests weren’t with a naked sweaty guy. You work out; maybe try the test again after tomorrow’s run.

And you know that thing you do where you squeeze your eyes shut and kind of put your hand over your face to keep your head from exploding? I was in the middle of that when…

I realized she was right.

Now, it doesn’t take much to get me sweaty (making me spend a THIRD day on a three line phrase for a single scene will do it, though) and… I’ll be honest, if a woman asks me to get naked, I’ll probably comply with no questions asked. (There’s an opportunity for a joke about not leaving a woman unsatisfied, but we’ve degraded this post enough already, and it’s not THAT kind of a story!)

And I’ll be even more honest. The few words that comprise that description? They probably don’t matter.

Fixing the scene through another test or leaving it alone as it is, it won’t make much of a difference.

Or will it?

See, here’s the thing. (You read all that to get to this.) When a person sits down to read your story, you want them totally engrossed in it, floating along like a leaf in the story-river you have created. Rushing through the rapids and lulling under a willow tree in the calm passages at your behest, your command. You are playing them like a piano.

That’s immersion.

That’s writing gold.

That’s a big time mixed metaphor but stay with me.

Your CP, by contrast, is walking through your story like a hiker in your story-forest who’s dragging a big blanket behind her. Anything the blanket snags on, you need to fix. Because those snags cause your reader to become – even for a moment – unimmersed in your story.

THAT’s the big crime. The only crime, really, in writer world.

The more unimmersed, the less I-couldn’t-put-it-down-able your story becomes. The less engaging. The less je ne sais quoi, an indeterminate quality most readers will never be able to articulate but they simply come away knowing your book wasn’t quite as professional as some other book they read.

Your CP will help you fix that.

You may be steamed a little at her for it…

But you should LOVE that she cares enough about your work to do it, to hold you to the highest possible standards so your work will be the best it is capable of.

Hell, a Critique Partner like that is worth her weight in freaking gold. Maybe more than that. She’ll help your new story become a best seller – like hers.


Looks like today after I work out I’ll be doing another t-shirt test…

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

14 thoughts on “Writing Challenge Part 2: Return Of The Naked, Sweaty Torso

  1. I agree that your cp is a valuable asset.. In this instance I believe her concern to be wrong, whether you pass or fail this next, tshirt tying test that’s terribly troubling the tale.. 😄

    It can be done in those conditions by someone, maybe not you.. If one of your characters safely leaps across a 4ft wide deep chasm, it doesn’t mean you’re able to.. But we all know some people can.. I think this is one of those instances.. It is an easy action to digest and visualize as part of the story, though some ppl know they couldn’t deftly tie a tie around thier own sweaty waist..

    But if you like getting naked and sweaty and wearing a tshirt apron, I’d like to know your results 😄

    1. Without typos, I would not have a blog.

      For the record, I am the T-shirt tying king. Post workout I was able to tie a T-shirt apron style or with the knot in front, and was still able to get it pushed around back to cover the front.

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