Wednesday, November 14, 2007

While You Were Sleeping

Have you ever given much thought to what goes on in the world while you are snoozing?

The other night the dog whined until I got up to take him out at 4:30 am. It was very quiet and misty out. I watched for skunks while Bingley did business. Then I heard a clacking noise and looked behind the house where two bucks were facing off, antler to antler. It seemed to be a rather gentle fight and one deer ran off rather quickly, obviously out muscled. But it is a sight I've never seen before. Bucks are a rare sighting, but seeing two together is mostly unheard of up around where people are.

Another doggy walk gave me the opportunity to see two fawns getting a meal from their mother. They are getting well grown this time of year, so they were both kneeling on their front legs and reaching up to drink. So cool to think what I miss while closed up in the house. But life in nature does progress even if I don't usually see it.

Maybe if you live in a big town you don't want to know what people are doing after dark, but for life to go on as we expect it to, things must get done. While we sleep there are people out sweeping streets, loading mail into trucks, restocking the grocery shelves, and thousands of other jobs.

I got to thinking about this in relation to a story. An author really needs to think about what is going on behind the scenes. There are numerous things happening in a story that will never make it into the actual writing as a scene or motivating plot line, but an author has to consider them to make a well rounded story. For example: A mother's feelings about her daughter getting married, a father's emotion over a child reaching adulthood and leaving his protection, the culture in which the hero/heroine were raised, the politics of the world the characters live in, the level of education in the area of the story setting, the cost of living in the story setting, and so much more. These things may never be "seen" by the reader, but they go on "in the dark" and effect the story none the less.

So don't just research the things that you want to put in the actual story text; research the whole story so that the writing you end up with is richer and deeper and ultimately the most memorable story you can tell.

Have a blessed day, and continue to pray for Kristy Dykes whose surgery is tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Good post, Becky! A lot of times in the comments I make in my content reviews, those hidden issues are what cause questions and concerns in story logic. I can tell when an author hasn't completely thought the situation through. I can tell when she has, too. It makes for a much happier review! :-)

Rachel Overton

Becky said...

Thanks for commenting, Rachel. Good perspective from a content editor.

Anonymous said...

Becky, I appreciate the posts that give insight into improving our writing. I don't often comment, but I do read every post. I have so much to learn and I am always trying to improve.
Mildred Colvin

Rhonda said...

I enjoyed this post Becky. Reading about the bucks and fawns painted a picture in my mind I won't soon forget. Your thoughts on the way we write were right on! I don't think I'll forget this lesson anytime soon, either. Thanks.

Vickie said...

Thanks for the reminder to continually look at the whole picture, not just what's up front but also what's in the background that's motivating the character and what's molded her into the person she is.

Praying for Kristy.

Mary Connealy said...

I'm just at that place in my WIP where I feel like I've made a breakthrough in my characters where that one perfect quirk or emotional scar comes into focus and I can really give them a personal voice. I love that. Your post reminds me of how important that deep knowledge of characters is.
As for what goes on in the dark...
It's hunting season here.
We don't hunt. My husband is a farmer and his idea of fun in his down time is coming INSIDE not staying out.
But lots and LOTS of hunters around. So, last Saturday night I came home from being gone all day and there was a doe hanging in a tree by our house. Hmmmmmm.....
Okay. I knew some hunters were around that knew us, figured they'd used our tree is all.
So, early the next morning I look out and TADA the doe is now a buck.
I stared at that buck for a long time. Had I missed those antlers last night?????
Finally my husband came in and said the hunter had bagged his buck early in the morning, taken the doe down and put the buck up.
(Buck up? Do you suppose that's where that saying came from? Anyway, moving on...)
But I had a very odd, almost out of body experience as I tried to force what I'd seen with my own eyes to conform to what I knew could not be....

Anonymous said...

Wow. I never thought of it like that. What a great way to flesh out our charaters and give the reader a look at someone who isn't flat on the page.

Thanks Becky. Oh, and from Baxter (my 10-month-old mini Schnauzer), he wants Bingly to know he's jealous of those fabulous walks in the country. He's a city dog with nothing but squirrels to chase. Maybe we need to take a doggie road trip!:D

Kathleen Y'Barbo