Yesterday has come and gone and here we are, starring into the abyss of the next one.
Have you ever felt groggy? Even after waking up, doing your morning routine, maybe going for a walk or having a second cup of coffee? I’ve had days where I go the entire day and never fully wake up.
Because I work from home, I can make my own schedule, and on those groggy days, I try to take a nap, hoping to hit the REM cycle right and wake up refreshed and actually, you know, awake. It doesn’t always happen, though.
Doing any activity on days like these, especially writing, seems difficult.
And while I don’t have a magic spell or wand to wave to make it all better, I think I can help you out a bit.
Today’s writing prompt is about pushing through. Doing something you may not feel up to just to get it done.
Does it make for great writing? No. But will it help your project out in the long run? Also, no.
What it can do, though, is remind you of where you are, what your goals are and let you take another step towards reaching them.
So, groggy or not, as we make our way through the next yesterday, let’s put pen to paper and figure some things out.
Read over your WiP and find your favorite, most detailed scene. Rewrite it the most basic, black and white manner as you possibly can.
Note: if you do not have a current WiP, pick a scene from a past project, or select one from your favorite book or movie.
The point here is to digress your writing so that it is devoid of all adjectives. You want to take that stunning throne encased with gold and silver nuggets into simply a chair.
If your characters are having emotions, being excited or angry or falling in love, make them dead-pan. No reactions. No descriptions of their clothing, hair, eye color, etc.
Leave enough in the scene so we know who is in it, where they are and what they are doing.
This exercise allows you to strip away all the crap and leave behind a shell of the former scene. When you are done, read it over. You should have a scene that is groggy, hazy. Enough detail to get the gist but not so much it is still your favorite scene.
What does this teach us?
Even being groggy you should still be able to move the story forward. If it helps, think of this rewrite as writing your outline. There should be enough detail to understand where we are headed, but not so much we want to stay there.
When you accomplish this, you learn two valuable lessons. First, you learn that some fluff and filler is needed in your story to make it enticing.
Second, and more importantly, if you really pay attention, you will learn what is not needed. Is it important that your king sits on a throne and not some wooden bench? Yes. Is it important to your story that the throne is described in so much detail the reader has to chew through three paragraphs to visualize it? No.
Learning what you can leave out and what is important to your story (from a readers perspective) may be the most valuable thing you can learn.
By writing “backward” like this, you learn what it takes to get the reader through the scene and on to the next. As a bare minimum, it shouldn’t take much.
Joe kisses Laura and they hold hands crossing the street as the bus comes.
You can probably see what happens next already. Yet I haven’t described Joe, Laura or the bus. I didn’t tell you if it was day, night, sunny or rainy, if there was an advertisement on the side of the bus, how busy the street was or is the two characters were holding anything more then each other’s hands.
Yet, from that one sentence you can see something is coming, something is about to happen. And if this were the last sentence on the page, you would turn that page to keep reading to see if you were correct.
Less is More…Sometimes
If I were writing this scene for real, I may add some elements to heighten the suspense. I may note that Joe’s shoe is untied, or that Laura’s purse was unzipped. I may mention the clouds rolling in and the wind picking up. But I don’t have to.
When you can learn to appreciate the minimalism, your writing becomes easier. Get your point across, yes. Add in details so the reader sees what you want them to see, yes. Just remember, you are a writer, not a painter. Let the reader see through the haze to find what they want to find.
Then let Joe get hit by a bus.
When you have finished your groggy scene rewrite, post it here for the rest of us to enjoy!