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…

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 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • 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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