When I come up with the idea for a new manuscript, I vividly imagine how it begins. I normally can also nail down the ending and several scenes down the road. But the part that comes right before is tough. How do I give the reader enough information about the characters to draw them in and keep the drama and intensity high?
I always seem to stall somewhere between the third and fifth chapters. So, I’ve taken a few days to study some of my favorite authors and how they handle it. My brain is toast. I need something new, fresh. Something that really forces my readers to stay with me but doesn’t sound predictable or trite.
Kiss me, Kill me, Klobber me, but don’t Walk Away! This is where I get stuck. Since there’s always a love angle in my writing, and there has to be some sort of “near death experience” to the character’s career, psych, or even physical being –that part is fairly easy to write.
Maybe it’s just the time of year. Or maybe my brain is just overwhelmed with TMI. But I can’t seem to find anything fresh at the moment. So, I am appealing to the masses here.
Help me out…I will tell you something either scary or hilarious that I’ve done in my lifetime and you can feel free to use it in your book…and I want you to do the same. (If you’re willing of course).
The funny thing:
When I was in high school gym class, we had to take an exam on gymnastics. That was a six-week grade and we were required to do three jumps on the vaulting horse and a balance beam routine. On my third and final vault, my hand slipped and my nose hit the beam. Crack. Instant bloody nose and blacked eyes. I ran to the locker room, cleaned up my face, and returned to take the rest of my exam. I was not letting anything stop me. I was a tough cookie and I had the bruises to prove it.
And I needed the grade.
HOWEVER, as if that wasn’t enough, my bra strap broke when I fell off the vault and I had a personal “balance” problem to deal with when I did the balance beam test. Since my gym teacher was a guy, there was NO WAY that I would tell him my issue–that my left side was out of synch with the other. I just did the routine with one body part “under full freedom” –and felt ridiculously self conscious the entire time.
Fortunate for me, the bruised eyes and swollen nose drew more attention and my bravado earned an A.
The scary thing:
I taught a class at night in downtown Houston around the time of the Enron bust. I left the class around 10pm one night and had to walk three blocks to the parking garage. It was pitch dark, no cars on the streets. As I approached the last street light, I heard an eery whistle behind me. The wind was strong and sometimes it sounded close, others far away. In fact, I couldn’t tell for sure whether the whistle was behind or to my left. I had to wait at the light and the whistle crept closer –I searched the darkness for its source. Nothing.
The light, changed to walk which signaled that I could cross –with no cars, I should have just gone against the light anyway, right?
At that exact moment, a man appeared out of nowhere and started walking toward me. The whistler, and he was still making that ominous sound. I clip clopped as fast as I could toward the garage, thinking that the street was a better place to be than an isolated, dark garage. I hesitated. My stomach clenched.
A cop car pulled up the light and sat there, waiting for it to turn green. Relief flooded me. I stepped into the parking garage and ran to my car.
These are two minor incidents…actually I’ve had a few near misses much bigger than these, but I’m saving those.
Hope you can use them….your turn.