Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Getting It Right

by Julie Coulter Bellon

Well, I finished the edits on my book that is coming out in the spring. I changed some things and added one more layer to a character that I’m really excited about. But I also had some other scene details that I’ve been thinking over.

For instance:

If you are being pulled over a ledge to your death and your hands are handcuffed behind your back, should you bite the hand of the person’s that’s pulling you? What’s the best way to get out of that one?

Perhaps I shouldn’t have the hands handcuffed behind the back, maybe I should just have them duct taped. But then the scenario is still the same. Maybe I should have the hands duct taped in the front instead of the back. But again, does the scenario change? How would you get out of that?

Could you use your teeth to get duct tape off of your hands quickly? (I thought about experimenting with this one, but for some reason my kids wouldn’t cooperate.)

If you did bite the villain of the story, would you ask for water to rinse your mouth out after? Are mints too much?

If you have a scene idea while in church, is it bad form to write it on the program?

If you had ten seconds to tell someone you loved one last thing besides I love you, what would it be?

If you named a character after your sister-in-law, and through the entire book it’s not clear whether she’s evil or good, does that send a message?

These are the thoughts that have been running through my head as I’m doing a final read through and thinking about the scenes I’ve changed and possible details that might need to be added. I wouldn’t say I’m obsessing, but I have thought about them a lot. It’s like a little glimpse into my thought processes. Scary, I know. But it’s not like I can really ask normal people these questions (hey, do you think handcuffs or duct tape is best?) without them calling the cops. Not that I’m saying you guys aren’t normal, (well, sort of. Some more than others) but you get the writing process and aren’t fazed by such questions. So if you have any thoughts for me, let me know. I want to get it right. After all, isn’t that what writing is all about, getting it right? Well, most of the time, anyway.


At 9/10/2009 12:27 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Gotta love that last-minute worrying/obsessing! At the end, I can get freaked over little things (like on my last book, I was freaked out about a character's name). It's a little scary knowing that soon, the book will be set--no more changing it!

Good luck with those final changes!

At 9/10/2009 4:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the handcuff thing, it depends on the character. Is this a young, independent woman? A teenaged boy? A detective? Is your character an ingenious sleuth who could find a very cool way to get the handcuffs undone? Or is this a brute who, despite the handcuffs will find a way to muscle his/her way out of trouble?

What you choose should not only help with the characterization it should also drive the story. Escaping the handcuffs characterizes your hero/heroine as ingenious. Figthing their way out makes them powerful. Talking their way out makes them very good at getting insdie the head of the villian and reading what makes them tick--essentially making your character a phychiatrist at best and a good judge of motivation and reading people at least. Bargaining their way out makes them either calm, cool and collected under pressure OR it could make them conflicted depending on what your hero/heroine offers as a bargaining chip.

Then there is the story element you should worry about (just a little). Having the hero/heroine go over the edge will frighten your reader. If they go over the edge and land on a ledge, you risk making your story somewhat cliche. How many times do they go over the edge only to land on an overhang? How you manage the "going over" as far as the story is concerned depends, first on the point of view of who is seeing this particular scene. If you want the hero to go over the edge and have the reader think the hero is dead the scene has to be rewritten into the point of view of the villian. This works particularly well if you want this to be a turning point for the villian--if this is the point where the villian begins to "lose". The villian leans over to see the body hit the valley floor below only to find no body. That would leave both the villian and the reader wondering why there was no trace of a body. What happened? Is the hero still alive or is he dead? The villian begins to run scared, question her/his every move and end up doing stupid things that eventually convict him/herself as the villian.

Or you could just send the hero over the cliff and end the story.

As for the "I love you" without saying "I love you." Set it up way in advance. In an opening scene, when you first introduce your love interests, find some cute, adorable, agreed upon word that this couple recognizes as a replacement for "I love you." They did that in the movie Ghost where they female lead asks the male lead why he refuses to just say "I love you," when she is open and hoest and tells the male lead that "I love you." He simply says, "Ditto." So when it is apparent that the male lead will go through heaven and hell for this woman, and you know that he wants to tell her that he loves her. She (not he) says "Ditto" and everyone in the theatre goes OHHHH isn't that so cool. He was the one who used DITTO as a cover for his shyness, but when push came to shove, SHE repeats his words and what was less than "I love you" becomes more powerful than "I love you." You could try something like that. The key is, you have to set it up early. Maybe refer to it a couple of times in the middle of your novel, so that at the end, when you use that object or that phrase it takes on a whole new meaning and the reader understands that what they are saying is "I LOVE YOU."

Good luck with your rewriting.

At 9/10/2009 4:29 PM, Blogger Marta O. Smith said...

Real duct tape can be ripped with teeth. If you mention color say silver or gray, because if it is black that means electrical tape, which is harder to rip.

If an idea comes to you during church meetings, count it as inspiration and write it down.

The sister-in-law should be flattered that you like her name enough to include it in your book.

At 9/10/2009 4:41 PM, Blogger Janice said...

I guess it all depends on how you really feel about your sister-in-law and if the character turns out to be evil.

As for the duct tape or handcuffs... As a cubscout leader I have to pick duct tape because it's something you're likely to have on hand. If it's too thick it won't rip with your teeth but since duct tape is so useful it's always running out so your bad guy could grab a roll of duct tape from his truck (car, lexus, whatever) but find that there is only enough to wrap around her wrists twice.

I would never bite a bad guy. You never know what nasty things he's been doing. After all, you do want to survive this. I'd rather bite a rock.

At 9/10/2009 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you have to ask if the villain be more likely to use duct tape of handcuffs. Handcuffs seem very pre-meditated and professional, duct tape more improvisational (and easier to get out of).

At 9/10/2009 8:31 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

Don't know about the handcuffs vs duct tape thingee, but ideas during church? Totally inspiration. It would be unfaithful of you not to jot them down!

At 9/11/2009 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I the only one having a flashback to Karate kid 2?


The scene at the very end where he is fighting the bad karate guy.

Hes hurt and on the ground and has to roll away when the guy tries to stomp on him.

No? well, it was probably just me.

"Behind you!!!!"

Maybe the bad guy can trip or something?

something to tell someone you loved besides you love them... how about, don't forget to turn off the oven. Or did you want to be serious? :)

At 9/11/2009 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why stick with handcuffs or duct tape. How about something completely different--maybe be the first one to ever use it. If you're currently using handcuffs I'd suspect the person who put them on was a law enforcer. Maybe he drops his only pair in the dirt so what else is close enough that he can use? Has there been a chase? The chaser lost a shoe so his sock is handy? He ties the hands together with a sock, then has to turn his nose away because the sock smells, and the other guy escapes while he's not looking?

Actually, I'm sure your current version is great.


At 9/11/2009 7:07 PM, Blogger Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I understand the questioning while you edit. Thank heavens we do that! Questions are always good. I'm sure your novel will be great!


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