Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Writing difficulties

I’ve been feeling rather dopey today after being up till after midnight, writing and rewriting something that simply wasn’t working; a love scene. Gods, I hate love scenes!

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve no objection to being involved in a love scene (¡ojala que sea!)! But writing them is another matter. It is, to be blunt, bl**dy difficult stuff. I’d rather write about any amount of things I’ve never seen or experienced (what’s research for, after all?), I’d rather kill off a major character (been there, done that, easy-peasey), than have to describe two people making love. It’s not that I’m not particularly prudish; I am irritated by the way so many love scenes are either coyly sugary or jarringly (and gigglily) explicit, and frequently out of keeping with the rest of the writing as well. But trying to write a love scene that is true to the characters involved and is honest about what’s going on, but without being either fluffy or embarrassing, is really tough.

I’ve been working lately on typing up and revising something called “Ramundi’s Sisters”, which was first written a good long while ago. It needs a deal of revision in places, as some of it is dreadfully purple. I’m almost at the end now, and the last chapter needs more work than anything else. It has three tricky scenes between two of the protagonists, which are meant to bring their relationship to a natural conclusion. The first of these scenes is the love scene I was struggling with last night. It isn’t particularly intense, in fact all they do is kiss. But the characters in question have each been carrying a torch for the other for a long time; they are both very fired up, and very awkward, with one another. There’s also the fact they are both good Catholics, and it’s 1927, so nothing particularly vigorous is going to happen, but it is going to seem absolutely momentous to them.

The original version was desperately overwrought. I struck a line through it last night and started again from scratch. Version 2a read like Barbara Cartland on hallucinogenic drugs; version 2b, like Barbara Cartland trying to write porn. 2c isn't too bad; tighter and shorter, with almost all the adjectives chopped off. When I went to bed, I was feeling quite happy about it. But I may re-read it tonight and think "Oh no!"

I've also finally managed to put right a couple of the points when the narrative point of view shifts mid-scene from one person to another. This is very sloppy writing, technically speaking, but I had not been able to see my way through to how to handle the narrative from just one PoV at these particular points. When struggling with something tricky, like the aforementioned clinch, the mind springs up with distractions. Ironing and filing begin to seem appealing. I think "Hey, why don't I set up a still-life with the fruit bowl and the guitar and some glasses, and draw instead?" I get up to change the cd, to make tea, to dance to the cd (I was writing to early Bill Nelson, very danceable stuff)... So I made myself go back to these other revisions, instead; when stuck on something tough, try something else tough. There, now the first problem doesn't seem quite so isolatedly awful! It worked rather well; by midnight I had solved two of the PoV glitches and typed up version 2c of the kiss.

Off to see "The Magic Flute" tonight with my stepmum. By the time I get home there'll just be time to open up the file, look at version 2c, and scream... and then start again.