Thursday, February 3, 2011

Writing the "Big Scene"

Larry issued a challenge: “It’s the final, big scene. Are you up to writing it?”
            Although I’m not sure he meant it as a challenge, my tendency toward competition interpreted it that way.
            Now I had to produce not only a scene, but a GREAT one! How could I make it amazing? Unexpected, yet believable?
            The same way I generate all of my ideas—I headed for the couch with a heating pad, cup of herbal tea, and sat there with my eyes closed. Some people might call it meditating. Some may call it daydreaming. Some might call it catching a nap. Snoring is what separates the latter from the former.
            For all intents and purposes, I’m going to call it meditating, although any of you out here who really do meditate are going to scream “HACK!”
            Snuggled onto my heating pad and inhaling the lovely aroma of bergamot drifting through the air, I cleared my mind of everything except the scene I had to write.
Where were the good guys standing in relationship to the mobster with the gun?
            Armed bad guy: a mobster with a gun.
Unarmed good guys: a cop, two female carpenters, two male wastewater plant workers, a female assassin, and a 500-pound male nursing home escapee in a wheelchair.
Once I had the scene pictured, I let my mind wander among the characters.
            With my eyes closed and complete silence around me, I pictured each character, quickly dismissing the obvious strong personalities and the obviously weak personalities. What I needed was somebody in the middle with enough strength of character to take on the gunman, but not so obvious that the readers “Saw that one coming!”
            After picturing each of the players overpowering the bad guy, I settled on my choice. Then I pictured the scene again in my mind and replayed it like a movie in its entirety. Satisfied, I tossed my lap cat aside and raced for the computer.
            I typed the scene in record time and whipped it off to Larry.
            On pins and needles, I kept hearing the thwack! thwack! of a gavel. And my tiny voice keening, “But Judge Larry! It was the best I could do!”
            Larry’s e-mail reply came back…I braced myself and clicked open.
He liked it. Not only that, he liked it so well that he had surprisingly few suggestions for changes.
            My secret method worked—which really isn’t much of a secret and not really much of a method. I do the same thing while washing my hair or sitting in a lawn chair. Close my eyes, picture a scene, allow my mind to wander, and let the characters take over. What would Casey do? What would Kelly do? What would Victor do?
Again, technically, it’s not meditation, but it is a passive sort of way to face a challenge that I should use from now on—tea, heating pad, and silence.
And if that doesn’t work, I’ll take a nap.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You meditate for scenes the way I mull over world building and plots.