Did you happen to see the Kmart ad playing recently? A line of guys in boxers ring Jingle Bells with a little wiggle and what we can only imagine are extraordinarily talented testicles. Kudos to the genius ad execs who came up with that one. Because they didn’t hold back, the ad certainly grabbed people’s attention. Do the same with your writing and so can you.
Have you ever found yourself holding back when writing a particularly difficult scene? Maybe it’s a character who’s as different from you as Genghis Khan is from Gandhi. But this character is in your story, and now you’re trying to bring him to life. Do you find yourself not writing to the truth of that character or scenes he might be in? Do the things you want him to say or do make you feel uncomfortable so you pull back a bit? Draft after draft, the scene doesn’t come alive because of this. If you don’t fix things, those who read your work will know. It won’t come across as real.
First thing you must do is be able to recognize the symptoms. Unfortunately, that’s not easy. Think of yourself as the frog floating in a pot of water being slowly brought to a boil. You may not catch on before your legs are the meal on someone’s plate. So, how do you know when there’s a problem lurking in the shadows? Just listen to that little voice in your head (come on, we all have them. I’m not the only one – at least, I hope not). And listen carefully. The voice is the part of the character that resides inside you. Sometime, maybe you don’t want to admit it, but it’s true. Listen to the voice and start rewriting. Write to the edge and keep going. You can always change it later, but it’s only you at this point. No one’s judging you. And most importantly, don’t judge yourself. Listen to the voice inside and let go. It will make for a much richer and more dynamic scene. The trick is to keep an open mind, divorce yourself from yourself, and embrace that character.
Go balls out this Christmas with your writing – or anytime else for that matter. Who knows? After all the squirming, you’ll be happier with the results, and so will the reader.
And maybe you’ll get some attention, too. Which is what we all want, isn’t it?
Until next week – Don’t Look Down
by William Darrah Whitaker