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Over The Hump Blog #02
I think the curse of the writer is to have too many ideas rather than too few. You think about things that could work in a given context and fall in love with some of them so much that you try to make them work in whatever you are currently writing.
I for one, really love slice of life stories. I love creepypasta and horror fiction that can include that element to it. I feel more attached to a character if I feel like I know this person, which is just good writing 101. That said while I like to linger in the world the reader may not. There's a balance that has to be struck between what I want the character to go through and what actually works on a story level.
Case in point I'm working on a horror novel. The first seven chapters just drop subtle hints at the main plot point and feature scenes which reveal the psychology of the character and will later play a role in what he witnesses within the "horror" context. That said, I wonder if I'm not going a bit far offering so much backstory up front when it could be done en medias res. On the other hand if I don't do it ahead of time then I am "telling" rather than "showing" since the reader will remember the prior scenes that impacted the character but if they appear at the moment it would just be saying "hey this is why that is happening."
Anyways, I've babbled enough. How about an excerpt from said novel?
Quinton's leg was quivering slightly, an easily identifiable sign of his nerves. I didn't push the issue. I knew from experience the best way to deal with conversations about the “she-devil” was simply to let Quinton tell it at his own pace.
“She was telling my dad about this 'camp' where I can be 'fixed',” Quinton shrugged. He tried to play off that it didn't matter to him. I knew better. He knew better. But neither of us acknowledged it. “She kept saying that she 'wants her daughter back'.”
Quinton leaned back in his chair and coughed deliberately. My loathing for the she-devil intensified.
“What did your dad tell her?” I asked, to try and keep Quinton from dwelling too long.
“He pretty much told her to go to hell and that was when she hung up,” Quinton replied, still not meeting my gaze.
“Your mom is a fool,” I said, though 'fool' was far from the word I was thinking of.
“I just don't get why she doesn't understand. I never left her! I didn't change!” Quinton finally shouted to nobody in particular. “When I was wearing khakis and collar shirts as a kid, my mother thought it was cute that I was a 'tomboy'. Is she really this blind?”
I folded my arms. “Quinton-”
But I stopped before any actual words came out. What was I going to say to him? Was I going to tell him to just “be himself”? As if he'd never heard that a million times before. How do you tell somebody that things are going to be okay when you know for a fact that they won't? How do you properly show your love and support and then have to utter a silly sentence like “I'm sorry your mother doesn't love you”?
I put my arm on his shoulder. I really couldn't think of anything else to say. We sat together for a few moments in the cafeteria before Quinton said that we should probably get back to studying.
That afternoon he told the story to Clara and Keith. Keith chose to use the words that I had omitted regarding the she-devil, and Clara offered more emotional support than I or Keith were mature enough to deliver. She pulled him into a big hug and offered the same platitudes that I had been too cynical to say.
Perhaps sometimes we don't need to believe the lie. We just need to hear the words. As if something in these statements remind us that everything is on course with our lives. We will suffer pain and heartache, people will give us the same idiotic advice as always and we will eventually find a way to work through it.