Using Crawler to Teach

How To Write Fiction

There is a school of thought that How To Write Fiction cannot be taught.

One is either born with the talent: one basically already knows How To Write Fiction…

Or not born with the talent: so they will never know How To Write Fiction.

These people believe education can only bring out the best in those already born with the ability to be a writer.

Conversely, at best, education can only make less horrid the completed efforts of those born without the ability.

What I Think About Writing

 

Writing, to me, is about imagination.

Robert B. Parker, he of the Spencer series, the former boxer Boston P.I., once said, and I paraphrase:

If a scene does not work, then the writer has not thoroughly and completely imagined the scene.

Wisdom from a Master.

Lesson Time!

Yesterday’s lesson was about writing the first draft of a scene while seeing it through the INSIDE and OUTSIDE of your protagonist.

Today’s lesson is shorter, but just as important.

Especially because it gets you closer to “thoroughly and completely” imagining the scene.

Rose Colored Glasses

In the first draft, see the scene though the eyes of your supporting characters.

How do they feel?

How are they reacting to the main character? To the situation? What do they see?

What are their interpretations?

Are they hot? Cold? Hungry?

Are they threatened by the protagonist? Do they like him/her?

Do they like themselves?

Do they resent the protagonist?

Don’t stop with the questions I suggest. Come up with your own. Ask a ton of questions about what is going on with your supporting players. 

And continue on with your first draft of the scene.

Good Scene, Dude! Good Scene!

The scene, character-wise, will become well rounded.

That’s a battle you will always fight.

And the more you understand how your characters are living in the scene, the more you will understand what you really want the scene to convey to the reader.

We’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

It’s The Hard, That Makes It GreatBy Tom Hanks, By Michael Scott

You’re seeing that writing is hard, time consuming work.

And we’re just talking about the writing.

We’re not talking about research, or plot, or ideas.

Just the writing.

God help the writers.

Whew!

And Now!

What’s We’ve All Been Waiting For!

 

 

Okay, here’s the next part of the first chapter (later discarded) of Crawler.

 

A Quick Recap Of Yesterday’s Reading

Gage has been hiding from his father at a motel in Florida.

He overhears the motel desk clerk talking on the phone about a relative, an older woman, who needs the kind of help Gage gives.

Gage decides to give up hiding and travel to Kentucky to help the woman, knowing his father will now be able to find him.

Gage is facing tough decisions. He is questioning his life’s purpose, and trying to decide how he wants to move forward with his life.

We left off with Gage at a retirement home, ready to help his new senior citizen client.

*******

CRAWLER:

THE FIRST DRAFT, OF THE FIRST CHAPTER, EVENTUALLY DISCARDED

Chapter One (cont.)

I was watching the newest resident of the retirement home, Ruby, clapping along with the song being sung by the entertainment that evening.

The sign on the wall said:

Oldies You Say? Featuring the Vocals of Mary Say

See what she did there?

But back to my client, Ruby. Well, not my client yet. But I had already sweet talked her Niece into getting me a cup of coffee, so it was just a matter of time.

Ruby was ninety-five, looked ninety-four, and had the energy of someone who’d just had a good hit of blue meth.

She clapped and smiled and sang along, although her lyrics and the song’s lyrics had nothing to do with each other. But it didn’t matter. She was having a great time. Watching her made me smile.

Mary Say kept her eyes averted from my smile. It’d been just me and her in the room as she was setting up. She tried to start up a conversation but when I faced her she blanched, sputtered, mumbled something about hoping I enjoyed the show, then went back to plugging in her speaker.

I’d kept my back to her when the residents filed in for the show.

Ruby sparkled. She wore a new nightgown from a discount store; along with matching brand-new bright pink silky slippers. Her hair was clean and brushed. She had on lipstick and a little makeup. The old men were all glancing at her, trying not to be obvious, but being obvious as all get out.

Men never change.

Ruby’s niece, Naomi, walked up.

“Here you go,” Naomi said.

“Thanks,” I said. I took a blue coffee mug from her. It was empty.

HA! There was coffee in it. Black.

Okay, now I’d made a joke. Guilt appeared to say, Hi!

I had no right to be happy.

I mentally hit myself in the balls.

I mentally hit myself too hard in the balls.

I got a little nauseous. I might have to sit down.

“You okay?” Naomi said.

I gestured with my cup toward two plush arm chairs in the far corner of the room, not confident in my ability to speak.

Naomi nodded and walked ahead of me. I hobbled behind her.

I could mentally whack myself balls with the best of them.

Naomi was Ruby’s great, great, great niece. I think I got that right, give or take a great. Anyway, Naomi was about half my age, and about twenty percent of Ruby’s age. You could almost see what Ruby looked like in her twenties by looking at Naomi.

Almost.

You gotta remember Ruby was old AF.

We sat in the arm chairs. Mine was dark blue with orange paisley flowers. Hers was orange with dark blue paisley flowers. Both chairs were hideous.

Naomi put her cup down on the round cherry wood table between us. Her hands were cream colored, her nails painted lavender, which matched the streaks in her hair.

She had a small white stud in her right nostril and black diamond half carat stud earrings. She wore a black silk button up shirt with a collar, AGolde cigarette cut jeans, and black flats.

“You drove all the way up here from Florida because you heard loser cousin Jimmy talking on the phone?”

“I flew into Cincinnati and rented a car,” I said. “Took a couple hours to drive over.”

“I don’t understand,” Naomi said. “Why do you want to help us?”

“It’s what I do,” I said. “I help people.”

I guess I’d just decided one way I was moving forward with my life.

Not changing my vocation.

****

Tomorrow: Part 3 of Crawler, first draft of discarded chapter one.

 

Lesson 3: READER SAYS WHAAAT?

 

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