Sunday we talked about what might be the single most valuable piece of writing advice you’ll ever get. Click HERE to see that, then come on back.
Can You Write What Hurts?
Let me explain my way of doing it so the scenes make sense later on when you see them.
Part of it comes from setting and part from surprise.
Occasionally we can build and build and build tension or pain or joy, and the release of that buildup is powerful. Two lovers finally being able to share a kiss. A frustrated person who has been searching finally being able to see their reward.
So that’s one part. The other is surprise, but not really.
So… something is happening and the characters are in that scene and are experiencing what’s happening (the love or pain as mentioned above) and one of them says or does something appropriate, maybe something we’ve all been expecting and waiting for – finally saying I love you to the other, let’s say – but goes WAY farther than the reader is expecting. Instead of saying I love you, the character bursts into tears and says I love you, I always have, from the first time I set eyes on you I knew and couldn’t say. I’ve been dying inside and now, finally, I feel sheer and utter joy in my life.
So a reader might be like, wow.
The pain is different but similar. With all hell breaking loose and the car on fire (literally) on the side of the busy highway bridge, the dad turns to his little girl in his arms and makes her blow the soot out of her nose. They were in the burning vehicle and other cars are speeding past them on the highway, but he doesn’t focus on any of that, he focuses on her.
So, you have to set the scene and then you have to exceed expectations. Telling it here, I didn’t paint enough detail to get readers following in the proper mindset. That would take a few pages or at least a number of paragraphs. But also they’d be reading it to see what was coming instead of enjoying it as a story – that ended up surprising them.
Oh, and there’s one last thing.
It’s different for everybody.
Where you are on a Tuesday last summer when you read the passage makes a lot of difference. A rainy day where you have had a bad week, you’ll read a little differently than a sunny day where it’s your kid’s birthday party and lots of guests are coming over. But given the proper attention, I hope my scene will draw you in and deliver.
And I have to go there, too. I have to open up and cry into the keyboard and then I have to edit it so it actually reads with the passions I need it to have. Thinking about the bad time gets me there. Painting that onto the canvas gets the reader there.
Since we have a whole blog, I’ll find a passage and post it later this week. Maybe two. We’ll see what you guys think. Because you read this, you’ll know them when you see them.
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