The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Under the Station Clock… (scenes from the conference)

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Chicago writer Lynne Sloan ran a fine session at the NorUSumWriCon about different ways to convey character emotions.  Here’s the thing:  Several of these sessions were replete with things I have known about writing for some time, but session leaders successfully put a name and label and schematic to a lot of those things.  The result was that I was went from knowing these things (or, “kinda knowing” them), to understanding them much better and knowing why they are what they are and why they are the way they are.  Same applies to Sloan’s content.  She went rather deep on the concept of “show, don’t tell,” and it all went to different strategies on how to show.

Slim Goodbody telling The Captain about body-based descriptions.

She talked about body-based descriptions, like directly communicating what the character is feeling by describing their physical sensations, and followed that with the use of figurative language to convey feelings.  The new stuff for me came when she talked about using words, syntax, and rhythm to convey emotion.  I’m always struggling with dialogue, so it helped to get some insights there.  And then there was the matter of using extended passages to describe complicated feelings.  The idea of getting into a character’s head by rolling out a long narration or internal monologue is something I’m familiar with, though again it helped to have a different set of eyes born from extensive experience to lay out the territory.  I’ve used this before to decent effect, and maybe that’s why I defaulted to the extended passage when Sloan gave us time to write.  Here’s my regret:  I wish I had gotten into areas where I’m weak or underdeveloped (like using words, syntax, and rhythm).  I’m not quibbling over the results, though.  I was happy with what I came up with, and I owe it mostly to the flash fiction writer emerging in me and the growing notion of how much a character’s voice plays into successful first-person narration.

The prompt was “Under the station clock, she’d said.  It was twenty past and everyone had gone.”

Under the station clock, she’d said.  It was twenty past now and everyone had gone.  So what if she doesn’t show?  Is it as simple as taking the train back home and calling it at least a decent day because you spent a few hours on the train and got some writing done?  You call these your defense mechanisms.  Your learned ability to not invest a lot of emotion into these situations.  You’re excited, sure, but too much of that equates to desperation, which is practically a fucking pheromone that singles you out.  This is what you learn when you’re this age and your history is a jigsaw puzzle with notable pieces missing.  So she doesn’t show and doesn’t call and doesn’t text and doesn’t DM you on Facebook and she can’t hit you up on SnapChat or Instagram because fuck those because texts and Facebook are enough, but she doesn’t do any of those and you’ve been ghosted.  Normally you’d try to be understanding and forgiving because forgiveness is so so sooooo critical and you’d try this again and you’d say hey, as a show of faith, how about you come my way this time?  Yeah, normally that would work.  But normal is fuckworthy right about now.  You know what you’re going to do if she doesn’t show by the time you hear the squeak of metal on metal and smell burning brake pads.  You’re going to go home and get out Black Magic and take some cuts.  Work on your stance and your follow-through so when she does call or text or whatever the fuck you put some good wood on any pitch she grooves down the middle and that fucker flies into the gap.

So why not go back and practice the weak areas I mentioned?  Nah.  I’ll pull it out when I think I need it when I’m writing something.  That’ll be practice.  It’s all practice anyhow.

Written by seeker70

August 27, 2017 at 9:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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