Monday, April 6, 2009

Turning the Crank, or, Secret Hoochie Koochie Loves

So what turns your crank in terms of writing?

I know (or hope) we all love writing. But what's your secret love, what's that part of writing that really sets you on fire? Think pools of gasoline and a blowtorch...

Is it dialogue? Description? Or maybe it's an action scene? Charting the interior thoughts of a character? Exposition? Or maybe it's writing a plot twist, or foreshadowing something in a clever way? Or maybe you've got the Jones for a good old fashioned sex scene? Or maybe you like coming up with a monster, or an interesting setting? Or maybe it's journals or letters? Or dreams? Or finally getting to write the nasty villain stuff? Or writing cuss words!

What are the little bits you're always happy to write? And why?

I like action, and I love dialogue... but I get rapturous over a good bit of description, whether it's spare or ornate. I'm a very visual person, very image oriented (love of art and photography fits in here - I will not mention the sadness of my broken camera), and I think that plays into my writing. How much of that love of visual wonders relates to the fact that without my contact lenses I'm pretty much blind? Maybe that blurred world I retreat into each night provides an interesting contrast with the beauty of certain images, an opportunity to really absorb and appreciate the sights before my eyes.

So, yeah, description. Which, um, probably won't surprise some of you who've read my stories. :) But yes, a finely turned sentence of description... that's a thing of wonder. The rhythm of a line as it slowly unfolds an image I can see without actually seeing... that is something, I think, I'll always love. Sight beyond sight, where words are like bright lights that reveal the sudden vividness of the world.

So... secret hoochie koochies anyone?


Pan Historia said...

Ah... what floats my boat?

I find dialogue to be the easiest to write. I can hear people speak in my head. Even though I'm also a painter as well as a writer I don't see pictures in my mind very clearly. It's more abstract and more about sound and the words.

I seem drawn to character mainly. I like to know what they are thinking and feeling, but I know that it can be boring to read a lot of navel gazing so I try and show it through action and dialogue. It's challenging to draw a portrait of a person in this way.

Wanu said...

My favourite things are simile and metaphor. Before I started writing stories, I used to keep a diary, and one of my most common phrases was, 'I'm not sure how to describe this, but I'll have a go'. Quite often, I stumbled upon useful analogies to help with what I was writing. I still enjoy making those, just that pause during which you go, 'how the hell would you describe that?' and the quick answer, 'It's like...'

I love doing that.

Dialogue... You know, there came a time when I'd been watching and listening to people, and I just realised that what a person says is only about 20% related to what they've just heard. The rest of their motivation to speech is about them, and their current mindset. Armed with that knowledge, all dialogue becomes pretty easy to make convincing. It's no longer, "Would you like a cup of tea?" "Yes please." But more like, "D'ya want tea?" "What? Tea? I've been drinking coffee for the last ten years, and you're still offering tea? Are you mental?"

You know. People have their own thang going on all the time.

I like action sequences, too. Just short, sharp sentences with pure nouns and verbs, especially when in past tense, third person. You can really fire things along, and it isn't difficult. I like that.

There's a new fixation I have, to do with making things more surprising. You know, if a character sighs, not just have it as mood-setting, but have the other characters respond to it. "You're not eating properly." "Shaddap!" etc. Taking those moments which we're accustomed to glossing over because they're necessary for televisual drama and catching the reader out: you know, one person is lying, but rather than have the eyes flickering, nervous smile, and the other person swallowing it all, have the other person catch all that and respond to it. Instead of 'look!' and pointing over the shoulder resulting in either a head-turn, or the, "as if I'd fall for that," speech, have the other person grab the speaker's neck, and gently move around to cover both bases -- be able to see what's behind, and still keep hold of their captive. I love this defiance of expectation, pushing the drama beyond cliche. I think drama is heightened by this direct approach, this no-nonsense, no soap-opera-b/s approach, and I find it refreshing myself, so I like to play with that.

Wanu said...

Or, the appraisal of another's actions. You might have a 'yes man' who does all his flattery and stuff, but his boss can go, "You're only doing all that to endear yourself to me." That level of interpersonal honesty, that busting down of barriers, between the characters, I love that.

Ms Kitty said...

Lately I've been into action scenes, the more gut-wrenching the better.

Motorcycles going 110 mph down foggy highways on the wrong side of the road. Playing chicken with semis as they flee the bad guys.

Last one was a bit tamer, 95 mph up a hill on the center yellow line trying to catch a car. That was fun, but not enough fun. So I had him pass the car, then wait in the middle of the road for it to come to him, at 95 mph. Will the driver stop in time?

Another game of chicken. Hehehe - the things we do for love, eh?

Mind you this is the extreme, my stuff is usually tamer, ever so tamer, than this. But sometimes a girl wants a walk on the wild side.

The hardest thing to write, and to have it resonate - are emotional scenes. So action scenes are fun and games by comparison.

This week I experimented with a 'terror' scene - trying to capture the pure emotion of being scared into blind flight (hence the chase scene) - without the villain raising his voice. How much menace can I get across?

This paranormal/Gothic that I'm working on is taking on a depth that I didn't expect. Like a wet towel I keep twisting it a bit harder to get a bit more out of it.