Thursday, December 27, 2007

Novel Update--Writer's Block on Rose Hill

Although I’ve never seen it showcased on “Dirty Jobs,” a fiction writer’s world is filled with less than palatable experiences and gradients of muck. Some characters cannot be approached with the white glove test. They require bare man handling and rough manipulation. If written properly, even their very auras will leave grime beneath the nails and a certain sickening of the stomach. It cannot be avoided, glossed over, side stepped, or approached from a cleaner angle.

If a character is the epitome of evil, then he is that. He may have human frailties and emotions. He may even cry when his dog dies. But if you write, “Eldon grieved for his faithful Bassett hound” and leave out “which died in the house fire Eldon set to murder his wife and unborn child,” then you have, by omission, failed to paint Eldon for who he actually is—more than a cold-blooded killer—but a cold-blooded baby killer. See how the scenario changes after we introduce the fire, the wife, and the baby to the picture?

Eldon is not your run of the mill husband. He may have your typical middle-income, middle class way of life. He may be of average height and weight, wear the common fad in clothing, and see the barber every 2 weeks, but Eldon is far from average. Eldon has dark secrets. Eldon curses and goes into murderous rages over situations you and I would consider mere annoyances. Eldon has a problem. And it is up to me, the writer, to make you see, make you understand—that Eldon is more than average. More than eccentric. More than nerdy. Eldon is dangerous.

Can Eldon be approached with Southern belle hoity-toity grammar and beautiful prolific prose? Are there proper and upstanding words to describe what Eldon fantasizes about at night when the rest of the world is blissfully unaware? If I tell you Eldon has nightmares—without telling you he dreams of dismembering his mother-in-law, what would you think? That he dreams, like you do, of falling and never hitting the ground? Eldon is not like you. Eldon is obsessed with inflicting horrors upon the innocent. Sad, sadistic, twisted horrors. But how will you know if I only say, Eldon is a murderer. Do you see where this is going?

In my current work in progress, there are a few characters with less than undesirable traits. For months now, I have sat on my fingers and wondered how to paint the scenes without offending the market, which I have and perhaps wrongly assumed to be readers of Christian fiction. I have wondered about the fine line one must walk in choosing the proper words. And I have come to the conclusion that if I am to paint the thing properly, I am going to have to get a bit of Southern muck on my hands. Not roll in it, mind you. But it ain’t gonna be all roses, either.

No, I am afraid little sister is going to have to leave the rose garden and head to the stable to shovel a little barnyard fertilizer on her novel to help it grow. I have my boots on. And for a brief moment in time, I’ve traded my Sunday frock for flannel and denim. Sure I could shovel manure in my Sunday best, but when it’s all said and done, no euphemisms are going to adequately convey the stink. It is what it is. And “it” happens.

So I’ve decided to let the buffalo chips land where they may. Maybe that’s why they call the first draft the “rough” draft. All I know is that the more I try to stifle the smell, the more it permeates me. I have to get it out in the open so we all can breathe. Then at the end of this long journey, when From the Dust of Rose Hill finally is put to bed, then and only then may the beauty of her roses shine.


Diane said...

WEll let me just say, if the final draft is 1/2 as captivating as the tale of your writers's gonna be a best seller!

let the chips fall where they may--alright! You've got my attention!

Happy writing.....let the characters take it where it must; life is what it is! I love a good dose of authenticity my friend!

Sounds intriguing...sounds spellbinding! Sounds like a page turner to me.


Sista Cala said...

If shoveling "it" is a warm-up exercise for a great writer, then I should be the one working on a novel. (smile) I know I have loaded enough of that stuff to fertilize all of West TN. And, I don't ever recall seeing a pitchfork in your hand........ Ah.. but you can certainly write. That's a fact.

C. H. Green said...

Your memory is failing you in your old age sis...I've shoveled plenty of it...well, enough for my delicate sensitivities to be offended. LOL>...and Diane, you're always too sweet with your kind compliments. Thanks.