Tuesday, July 03, 2018

A suggestion on what to do when the words aren’t flowing

by Rick Blechta

I’m sitting in my studio on a beautiful summer morning. It’s cool right now and will be really hot later on today — as it’s been for nearly a week now — so I should be doing some needed work outside, but I also (as usual) hadn’t gotten around to my weekly Type M post, so here I sit.

I’m doing a lot of sitting, too, at the moment with my current work-in-progress. I’ve got an unforeseen plot problem (don’t you hate ‘em?) that has me snookered. As is the case in these situations, I’ve been trying to work on other scenes to come in the story in order to keep moving something forward, but even that isn’t working as well as I’d like.

After all, how many scenes can you store up when you prefer writing your novels by the seat of your pants? I could spend a couple of days on something that will be totally useless because my plot has taken a different direction by the time I get to where the scene would occur.

Then it hit me like a cold fist at the end of a wet kiss: I’m going to need scenes that take place in the summer — in Washington. My story begins in the spring but will wind up during some really hot days.

I find it hard to write really visceral description of weather unless I’m experiencing it. Distance from it causes my memory to “idealize” it. If I’m writing in the middle of a heat wave about a frigid January day in Canada, I tend to pull my punches. You can tell — at least I can — when I’ve done this in a novel.

So my great idea for today is to throw some description together for those disgustingly hot, humid scenes I’ll need for the novel’s end. I figure late afternoon should do it. I won’t turn the ceiling fan on, I’ll shut all the windows and then sit down and melt a bit as I describe that crippling southern heat and humidity that leaves you feeling as if you’re wearing soggy, wet sponges.

See? It’s already working!

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