Ever have one of those conversations when you suddenly realize your morality is 90 degrees to the other person in the conversation? Then you have to wonder if:
- You’ve passed the “just kidding” point. (Usually.)
- There’s any way of getting out of the conversation without the other person figuring it all out and spending the next few months avoiding you. (Usually not.)
- You’re going to have to try to justify your opinion on raticide. (Totally a word.)
Colleague: “I think we have mice in our attic.”
Me: “Warfarin and a sling shot.”
Me: <Making little slingshot gestures.> “Into the attic.”
Colleague: “What if it’s not mice?”
Me: <Totally not reading the horror on her face.> “It works on rats too.”
Colleague: “It could be squirrels.”
Me: <Realizing, too late, that I’ve met my moral opposite.> The slingshot spreads it out…aren’t slingshots great?
Colleague: <stunned silence>
Me: <Making little slingshot gestures.>
BTW, if I’ve ever had this conversation with you…rodents have to be a certain level of “not a rat” before I feel even remotely bad about Warfarin being the solution to them being in my attic.
Mice = Small Rats
Rats = Rats
Squirrels = Rats with Fuzzy Tails (I see through your clever disguise.)
On another note, after much procrastination and self doubt, I’ve decided what to do to increase the action early on in my novel.
I was having trouble deciding how to move all of my plot related action up early enough in the story to satisfy requests to speed up the action at the beginning. So, I started thinking about other books I love and asking myself what the “action” was early in those stories.
What I realized was that most of the early action isn’t specifically big-P plot related, and it doesn’t have to be huge. The early conflicts set up our knowledge that the character is in a precarious position so that when the big plot points hit we are already worried about the character.
I don’t know why that was such a revelation to me. Now that I’ve thought about it, it seems like an obvious point. But then again, I didn’t know Rice Krispies were made of actual rice so…
Conflict is all around us (or at least all around me). Every few days I find myself facing the type of low level stress-events that make my heart race for a few minutes until my logical brain takes over to say “I can deal with that”.
- The boss that’s yelling about a project you’re involved in…will he know the mistake wasn’t yours?
- The call from the bank telling you that you may have been a victim of skimming…are there any false transactions?
- Squealing tires behind you…are you about to be hit?
Each of these stressful events on their own are nothing. A thousand of them building up together could make me snap (last week was a close one). But in a small cluster, these events can tell us something about our environment, and we can use them to tell the readers about our character’s environment, and increase tension. (How could I just be learning this now?)
Think through your last week. How many times did you growl in frustration, startle at a loud noise or feel sick before stepping into a meeting or picking up the phone? Make a list of your little heart racing moments then ask yourself why you reacted the way you did. What do those events and your reactions tell you about your life? Free write and see where your explanations take you.