Thursday, January 21, 2010
One of my challenges for this manuscript (ms) is the requested additional 20,000 words. When I said I could do it, I envisioned all sorts of scenes. At the time I started the revisions, I couldn’t think of anything new and different. Sure, a couple bit scenes here and there, but not one or two huge block-busting scenes to bring tears to reader’s eyes or make their hands fist with rage.
Last week instead of doing all the prep work for this week, I took the time off to make a website for my church. I totally got away from Emma’s story. And yet I kept thinking of it at the oddest times – like in the middle of html coding You see, I kept thinking I needed ‘more’ in the story. More excitement. More emotion. More reality.
It was like the extra show that came with the Stargate Continuum (2008) DVD. The director was describing how they needed to make the movie ‘bigger than life’ because it had to be 'bigger' than the TV series. The regular shows use film sets on earth, in space, on jumpers, on a frigate and other spaceships, and on other planets (which all look like BC where the series is filmed). So how to bring something bigger to the screen? I don’t think they succeeded in making it ‘bigger’ as in a block-buster because we saw it on the same large, flat screen TV we watch the regular series and it just seemed like a longer version. But it was certainly as entertaining.
I wanted what the Stargate director wanted.
So last week among the DIV ‘s and ALIGN’S of a 21st century computer language, a scene like you’d find in an old west movie replayed in my mind. As the week progressed, the scene unraveled in vivid detail. Adding it would enhance the ms because it would:
- portray the hero as a Hero in the reader’s eyes
- tie up a loose plotline
- allow readers to feel rage, shock, compassion and humour
- add challenges for the subsequent scenes
The problem was it wasn’t the kind of scene you’d see in your usual inspirational book. Adding it would put me in the ranks of an ‘edgy’ inspirational writer. But it would satisfy my thirst for ‘more’ and be a more entertaining read.
Having decided to write the scene, I began first thing Friday morning when BIAW started. I made good progress on Friday but life with family interfered on Sat and Sunday. Come Monday, I got back into it. In the scene, Emma is sitting by the fire with her foot tucked under her skirt. And it dawned on me while I ate my lunch . . . Emma isn’t wearing a skirt . . . she’s wearing pants. Sheesh. So I had to go back to where I started the scene on Friday and start rewriting. I found a couple more places where I talked about her skirt. I also found two other things I hadn’t been consistent with either. First, I’d written the scene with her in ladies boots under the skirt but when she puts on the trousers, she put on men’s boots. Second, I had her going down to the river to fill a bucket of water yet the only things she has is a couple sacks with some utensils and food. No bucket. At least I don’t envision a bucket swinging from the side of her horse. Their camp is at the base of a butte in the middle of nowhere. So where’d the bucket come from? Since I have her carrying, filling, passing, etc the bucket, that all had to be changed, too. That took up all Monday afternoon.
That left Tues to get on with the big scene which I did with an uncontainable eagerness. The emotional part is done and I’m now working on the aftermath of the event. And this brings it’s own challenges because I’m thinking of using the scene I wrote for the ‘secret’ exercise here on the blog and if I do that, I now have to change things to be consistent with what I wrote on Tues and Wed. It’s like a huge puzzle with all the pieces scattered about and I’m picking them up one by one and seeing if they fit. They may look like they fit but it’s not a perfect fit, so I have to go ook for another similar piece and try again.
Do I need the ‘big scene’? Maybe. Maybe not. There are many romance books out there without any huge dramatic scenes and they do quite well. They’re light entertainment. Look at all the authors selling Chick-Lit and romantic comedies. But I don’t write those.
It’s not that I’m writing the next Gone with the Wind, but I’m in a ‘pool’ of pre-pubbed writers trying to swim out and be noticed for what I write. I want to be known for stories that increase your pulse and stay with you for weeks afterward. I want my readers to forget they’re sitting on a bus or in a Dr’s waiting room and just feel the story. So, I may not be writing a blockbuster movie here, but even a simple inspirational historical like Emma’s story deserves to be the biggest story I can make it. Like Natasha Kern of the Natasha Kern Literary Agency said in her ACFW Denver workshop – think of the worse things you possibly can and make it worse - then write it.
I do believe I’m actually succeeding.
Which do you remember more - books with at least one big dramatic scene or without?