Closer to the Edge

Happy first Wednesday, everyone…

After a lengthy absence, I’m back to IWSG, Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for his wonderful forum and outlet for writers from the timid to the confident. You’ve provided us a safe place to vent, to question and to celebrate. Click on the badge to the right to join us.

Be forewarned, this blog is not about a happy subject. danger

If you write mystery, romance, or adventure you may have reached the point where a specific scene is hard to write because of its unpleasant nature. As a no-gratuitous-violence writer, I avoid scenes like the one looming ahead of me but, the simple fact is, this is a pivotal scene. The POV’s feelings of guilt and self-doubt flood from this terrible mistake. Her actions at this moment change everything, providing tension and conflict. Without it she is two-dimensional. Through the novel she searches for redemption and when she finally finds it she’s faced with more questions than answers.

But, unfortunately, her creator was not brave:) Bumping up against the fictional rough stuff made me uneasy. It felt personal. As writers we sometimes set limits for ourselves, lines we hesitate to cross. Other writers are fearless and over the top, but I found myself dancing around this scene as if it was a cornered rat in my kitchen.

However, that said, I’ve had time to think about this since first draft. Now, in revision, I’ve decided to forge on ahead, fine-tuning the action and honoring its importance in the story.

Are you willing to get closer to the edge? If so, any advice for me?


13 thoughts on “Closer to the Edge”

  1. Writing the gritty stuff is a huge stumbling block for me. I can’t seem to inflict my characters with anything terrible. So I know what you mean about dancing around conflict–I know I need it but when it comes time to do the deed I never fail to flinch. The bright side of course, is that my characters will never suffer in vain. 🙂
    If the scene still makes sense in revision I think you’re on the right track!

    1. Thanks, Kirsten,
      I understand the stumbling block! I’ve asked myself what are the worst things that can happen to Naomi, my POV character. I even made a list of how to torment the poor gal. Now, it’s time to fire chaos at her in a believable way. She does fight to survive through the whole book, but she also has moments of humor, wonder, and love. After all, this is a romance!

  2. Sometimes it’s hard to pull back from intense, emotional scenes, especially powerful ones it sounds like you’re struggling with!

    But just think, the more in it you are the better it will come out, and if it feels personal then even more so! It’s gonna be great, can’t wait to read it 🙂

    1. Wow, thanks, Mishka. Feeling personally involved does add super heated emotion. I just want to make sure the action is convincing. I’m almost done with it, a bit more tweaking and I’ll have chapter one revision finished.

  3. I can so relate to your post!I fear writing conflict in any form from arguments to fights. I have so much trouble ‘hurting’ my characters…but that’s the only way to get conflict in a story. Let us know what you decide to do!

    1. Yes, it’s hard to hurt them, even the bad guys. There are only two scenes in the book where people actually hurt each other, and I’m trying write from their point of view only. Sounds odd, I know, but it’s amazing how your own judgment and uneasiness invades your character’s world.

    1. You’re absolutely right. It’s time for a chapter of The Stand. Yikes. After all these years and especially now, King’s seriously over-the-top writing makes my hair stand on end.

  4. I find the first draft is total living on the edge… write it all .. then work out what needs to be cut or added in in the revisions. the old saying ‘Kill your favourites’ often lingers in my mind. I write realistic and often find myself in tears as to what I put my characters through.

    1. First draft is certainly living on the edge, but revision isn’t far behind. During first draft I wrote a scene where the lovers say goodbye forever. I cried more than they did:)

  5. There is always an implied sense of violence, without going into any detail but have it there as a possibility or a hazy probability, it keeps the reader speculating and allows you to avoid actually writing anything you are uncomfortable with. A reader’s imagination will always think of worse than you are prepared to write because deep down we are all a bit sick in the head lol.

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