Thursday, June 18, 2009

But How Does She Feel?

I had another virtuous morning of getting up early, taking a walk, then still being at my desk a bit earlier than normal. It's supposed to be really hot today, but there was a nice, cool breeze this morning. However, the breeze was from the south, so I suspect that by this afternoon, it will have turned into a hot wind. I was thinking that today might be my first swimming pool day of the season, but that always makes me so tired and sleepy, so I may save that for a finishing the book reward, since I've already had my exercise for the day.

I worked four hours yesterday, according to the stopwatch, so that's actual work time, not just time sitting at my desk. I've forced myself to remember that this is not a race, and the goal isn't to get done fastest, but to be the best. As a result, I did a lot of semi-major surgery yesterday -- combined two redundant scenes into one, added conflict to a scene that was missing it and beefed up a major scene into something even bigger. I normally don't do editing on paper, and I guess I still don't, though I do mark anything major I find, but I am doing some analysis on paper. I took a class earlier this year, and one of the things the teacher suggested was to highlight different elements of the story with different colors -- one color for dialogue, one for introspection, one for action, one for emotion and one for description, and then tracking levels of conflict and tension in the margin with yet another color. It's a good way to see what you have too much or too little of. I'm not doing that for the whole book, but I am doing it for trouble chapters or for major turning points, and it is eye-opening.

What's surprised me is that I have a lot less introspection/narrative than I thought. I guess I'm doing pretty well on the showing vs. telling thing because narrative tends to be "telling." Most of my scenes are almost all action and dialogue, with little bits of thinking thrown in. However, I'm usually missing emotion. Something major will have happened, and my character will say or do something in response, but there's no sense of any kind of emotional response. I'd thought that's because I'm not a really emotional person, and my usual response to something major is to think my way through it, but the truth is that there's still an automatic physical response to any major emotion, and that does happen to me. I get that knot in the stomach, dry mouth, racing heartbeat, etc. What I don't do is think about the emotion. I'm more likely to think, "Okay, now what should I do?" than to think, "Oh, woe is me!" So, even if I'm writing a very calm, rational character, I still need to remember that physical response, or else I've got a bunch of robots running around. I didn't notice this lack so much until had to use the highlighter colors, and that was when I found myself saying, "But how does she feel about all this?"

Meanwhile, I'm in a strange reading lull. I can't seem to get into anything I try to read, including authors I usually enjoy in series I've enjoyed. About the only thing I can manage to read is Terry Pratchett, so I'm re-reading one of his that I've only read once. I think it's mostly that my brain can't handle anything too serious at the moment.

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