Writing and Fighting

You might find this hard to believe (not) but I think about work all the time. Right now I’m writing a superhero story under a very tight deadline – September 1st. I usually like a little more time to ponder, edit and revise but this story is really flying out of me (haha). Two reasons for this, I think.

One: I’m thrilled to be writing it. That helps.

Two: I’m becoming a more experienced writer. No, I will not just throw that out there without specifics.

There’s a scene in my head. It always starts with dialogue. Great dialogue can do a lot to paint the scene in a reader’s head, but there has to be some description. What to write? Only the telling details, of course. (Gonna go out on a limb and cite Dwight Swain, here, “Techniques for the Selling Writer.”) As I left my writing session at Starbucks and drove to the grocery store to buy a baguette for dinner last night, I realized I often reject the most telling details and leave them in my head and off the page because they seem too obvious or corny. But guess what? The reader can’t read my MIND! To bring my scene to life, I must put THOSE details on the page.

Hot Chef

An Homage to TOO HOT TO TOUCH by Louisa Edwards Coming August 2nd! Love hot chefs? Me too! Yay! Click pic for details.

What does this have to do with fighting? Well, since I’m writing first-draft smut I’m feeling pretty frisky and my husband was annoyed that he was taking the kids to the drive-in last night and wouldn’t be able to take advantage of all that frisk. Since we’ve been together for fifteen years, a lot of our communication was non-verbal. He didn’t actually say this. I inferred it from the sour expression on his face when I told him I had just written a sex scene and I slid my barefoot up his shin and into the leg of his shorts. Seeing that sour expression made me decide not to tease him. Instead, I went into the next room and checked my e-mail at which point he followed me and started a fight because “we were having chatty time and I left to get on the computer AGAIN.” Now, there were all sorts of other factors going on, too. I could tell he’d skipped lunch because he was a bit frenetic. He knows damn well my guilt about all the time I spend working is a hot button for me. We fought for a few minutes, him agressing, me justifying, until he said, “What made you think I didn’t want to talk anymore? I was talking to you!”

I used my new telling details technique to tell him exactly which non-verbals cues had made me leave the kitchen. Until that moment, I hadn’t really been aware of them. I’d just been reacting. I finished up my list with, “And did you eat lunch today? Because you seem a little frantic.” He was floored. And impressed. And suitably repentant. Lest ye think he is anything but perfect, the entire time he was torturing me, he was also making dinner. Pork butt on the rotisserie, zucchini and tomato gratin, french fries, green beans and my contribution, a store-bought baguette (haha).

Good writing and fighting? Pay attention! The difference is in the details.

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6 comments

  1. I have a strange feeling I’ve seen that model before, though perhaps not under the same circumstances. Can’t wait for Louisa’s book!

    I can read my hubby’s nonverbal signals loud and clear. He may not know it, but his body language practically screams. I wonder if men in general don’t always realize how much they telegraph their feelings.

    1. LOL! I believe you may have seen this model working the grill and wrangling kiddies at the WNYRW picnic…
      I think we all telegraph feelings. I can’t tell you how many times he’s said, “Wipe that puss of your face,” to me. Or “All right, all right. Enough! I’m sorry. Stop looking at me like that!” The trick is how to translate these little discoveries to our work… moo ha ha ha.

  2. Oh, so I’m not the only wife who reacts to her hubby’s “Non Verbals”! If you replay his words, everything is well and good, but insert the tone and body language… and it’s a completely different story.

    1. AmyBeth, you are not alone. Do you also enjoy the flip side? The whole conversation that passes between you with nothing more that smiles, looks and maybe the jerk of a chin or a shrug? I love that!

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