Professional writers must be emotionally advanced.
So, for today's exercise, it's time to lay it all out on the table, and admit we were wrong.
I know it can be difficult, I myself am never wrong.
On an unrelated note, my husband has a habit of apologizing.
So, this exercise came about while I was skulking around the book store on my lunch break, scouting out some interesting exercises. I came across a really great, although fairly expensive book called "The making of a Story" by Alice LePlante. I think I'll be asking for this on my next birthday.
There are some excellent exercises in there, so I got out my little notebook and jotted some down.
Here's the first one that caught my eye.
It has to do with not forcing epiphanies in characters...which can be a common mistake. How does your character do a complete "about face" with something they feel so passionately about?
Here's a way to approach it.
1. Describe a time when you knew you were right, like every cell in your body was saying yes.
2. then describe the moment that lead up to the epiphany that you were actually wrong like the "suddenly I realized" moment.
3. Then talk about the event from the "morning after" perspective.
Here it goes, I'm going to dredge up some real memories, and perhaps embellish it a little.
You can also try this with characters you're working on, it doesn't have to be personal.
I wear the bright green wool sweater with the buttons that go all the way down. Anyone else would have mocked it. But I know he'll touch the thick fabric gently and rub it back and forth with his fingers. He can't help himself. He'll touch my arm with his fingers.
I've already seen it all in my head. When he answers the door and says "That shirt's wild" the blood rushes, and all I can hear is the ocean.
A crooked smile lights up his faded blue eyes, as he pushes a loose strand of hair behind his ear.
I can't speak, I need to hold onto the wall as I take off my shoes.
Later in the basement, we sit on the damp sinking-in grey couch. Elbow to elbow. Balancing a plate of samosas between us. Knees touching.
I've never seen Purple Rain, and I hate Prince, but I'd eat kibble if he wants me to, shelving all of the stubborn opinions I've collected over the years. I'm just happy to hear him talk in a low vibrato. His chuckle. The way he pushes up his glasses. His perfectly pink cheeks that flush when he gets excited.
I can't imagine that anything else has ever been or will ever be this captivating. I don't even taste the samosa, which is a shame, since I love samosas. Can't recall chewing it. though I realize I've eaten it when we put down the plate.
I'm staring at his perfectly curved ear, wondering if his hand will make its way over. Wondering how much more I can slink down into the couch, without being too obvious.
Or whether I should ask for a guitar lesson, just so he can place his fingers over mine.
He doesn't want to talk on the phone again. He wants to see me, and insists on the diner. I make an excuse and get there before he does.
My clammy hands can barely grip the handle of the mug full of hot tea. Peppermint to ease my knotted stomach.
He hovers near my side of the table for a moment as he comes in, hesitates and sits down opposite, bringing with him the smell of wet wool. His camel colored coat drips, glasses foggy.
I twirl the ring on my finger, the one that's not from him, but I want it to be.
He grasps at my hands, fingers intertwined.
I pull away when the waitress comes.
Peppermint tea, he orders. I sigh, and feel it deep in my stomach, this pain I know won't go away.
I want to climb into the seat next to him and hug him so badly, but this is my neighbourhood, not his, and people know me. They might see.
He orders fries, and talks about his philosophy course. He doesn't care about this ludicris situation, he's moved above it.
While I'm caught in the midst of it, feeling it in my gut as I sink deeper, the quicksand approaching my lungs.
I sit, asphixiated, unable to move, while he chatters on.
He doesn't ask the obvious. The thing he wants to know, but doesn't really. Am I done with him?
And I don't want to talk about it. I can't tell him no.
His eyes were defeated. I could tell from the other side of the phone.
They were droopy. I could hear the trembling in his voice. He was breaking.
I never meant to say those things.
The emailing was not a good idea.
Such a cold disjointed dialogue did not belong in the midst of our passion. Emotions running wild, and the tears streaming down onto the keyboard.
I hung up the phone, just like that, while he was mid sentence.
I couldn't listen to it anymore. His heart breaking like that, and bleeding all over me.
I was backpeddling fast, and he knew it, so he tried to cling to me as hard as he could.
But I flung him right back.
And then there it was, in the inbox.
Staring at me. I couldn't look away, I had to open it.
He was right, I knew he was, I was a coward. I wasn't strong enough to say yes to him.
So instead, I shot myself point blank, and wondered why I was in pain.
I can't even recall what it was that I wrote.
But I know it was mean. I know It was blistering. I know it hurt him, like he hurt me for having the audacity to love me, without so much as a kiss.
I know I'll regret this, wish I could have handled him with some tact, some grace.
But I can't summon the strength. I'm all tapped out.
He's dried me up of longing, and now it's just the ugly vulture-cleaned bare bones.
I think that one worked quite well.....you can see how the progression takes your character through the changing mindset. It's also a nice way of letting the reader imagine the actual blow out---or the actual epiphany, without having to write about it. Because, really, that might not be necessary to write about at all.