Saturday, September 1, 2012

The importance of moving

I wanted to write out the rescue scene last night for my alien 'Dragon' story. But I still can't see how the alien creature is going to be rescued. 

I had this idea that one of the creatures is snared in some growth. A man and his daughter frees the animal by cutting off one of its horns. It turns out the horn is of great value and the man is able to avoid starvation by selling it.

But the 'horn' aspect won't work. It's too obvious. The creature (scary and dangerous) has something very valuable, but it mustn't be obvious to the reader how the father and daughter are going to benefit from their kind act. 

Then there's the usual problem of Back Story. How to include it in a natural and interesting way. So many writing problems that kept rising up the more I tried to piece things together in my head. 

This morning I enjoyed reading a story written in first person POV on Strangehorizons. I realised that the back story was all there in the MC's thoughts. It hadn't occurred to me until now, that when someone is thinking about their past and having an emotional response, they're automatically giving the reader back story and dry facts. Back story that's vivid and interesting because it's being filtered through a character's emotions.

It's amazing how long it takes me to see the obvious when it comes to writing. I'm sure I'm not this slow in other areas.  

Then I went for a walk. Did some house cleaning. Not thinking at all about writing. Out of the blue, while I was scrubbing the bathroom sink I decided to write the story in first person POV. From the daughter's POV. I'd been thinking the story would be in 3rd person and the child would ask her father questions. The back story would be there is his answers.

But the father rescues the scary creature because his daughter begs him to. Maybe the story's MC is the daughter, not the father. OK. So the back story could be there in the daughter's thoughts and emotions.

And another solution. The alien master race that once used the flying creatures - the reason why they kept herds of these creatures? They ate them. Simple. But this works for me. Maybe they cut off their wings so the creatures couldn't escape. And now the creatures are growing and adapting - and so are the humans.

So I went from feeling totally stuck to feeling that maybe I can still do this. I've seen writing advice before about going for a walk when you're stuck. But I need to remember - the brain REALLY DOES tap into stuff better when you move around. 

The human body, including the brain, wasn't designed to stay still for more than 20 minutes. 

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