What has been going on with me recently you ask? Reading, mostly. I’ve had a stack of books up to my knee sitting in my apartment for the longest time, just waiting to be read. I always seem to come up with an excuse as to why I’m too busy or not in the mood to read them right then, but I seem to have gotten over that. I’ve been reading, watching the improved sales from my free day From Ash run, and spending a good deal of time fretting over one scene in Dreamstate II, which is what I’ll be talking about today.
I’ve hit a bit of a block in the new Dreamstate book. It’s not that I don’t know where I’m gong with the story, or that I don’t know what needs to happen in the scene. I have everything pretty well planned out—further on it gets a bit murky, but that’s not really all that important here and now. What I was having problems with, is the way that characters interact with one another on an emotional level. There is one scene in particular that has been giving me just one hell of a time. I’ve recently figured it out (I think), but it took me the better part of two weeks, and about two rewrites to get it down.
The problem that I was having, was really distinguishing between platonic and romantic emotions between characters. The lines tend to get a bit blurry when there are deeply rooted friendships, and the characters are angry, or upset with one another. To be clear, I was trying to steer this well away from any sort of romantic entanglement, but every time I re-read it, that’s exactly what it sounded like. I really didn’t want to have to hop in, as the narrator, and say “they’re not in love, but they are friends, and so this is why they’re angry.” It seems like it’d be a bit too forward and jump out as me trying to salvage the scene. I had rejected this approach right off the bat, but the more other things that I tried, the more I kept coming back to it.
I eventually did write in a line about how they were not feeling romantic feelings, but I did so in a very subtle way. It was written through the characters eyes, and expressed by them, not by me. It was fed into more of a stream of consciousness, in a way that was obvious to the reader, yet disguised as a very natural part of the text. I’m rather fond of the way that it has come out, but it took some doing to get there.
I’m sure that I’ve talked in the past about taking some time to just step away from your work when you get hung up on something. I had done this a few times, where I took a couple hours off in the middle of a session to ponder what to do next—or when I’d cut my word count in half and use the extra time to think things over. What I hadn’t been doing, however, is going back to my journal. There is something so enlightening about curling up on the couch with my pen and journal and just sketching out some ideas. It leaves me with my complete train of thought, all laid out before me, where I can cross off old ideas or combine them with the new. For whatever reason it’s also much easier for me to play with word order and the way that sentences sound when I arrange them one after another. It’s relaxing and inspiring, and I think I solved my issue in about thirty minutes the other night by just going back to basics. If you’re ever stuck, try it out—grab a journal and just go to town on it. Sometimes the results are nothing short of amazing.