Friday, November 17, 2006

Writers Anonymous

Hello, my name is Helen and I’m a writeaholic.

Writers spend a lot of time on writing. They write, they research for what they’re writing, they think and dream about plot and scenes, they jot notes at a stop light or while waiting in the check-out line, they talk to other writers, they read books, newsletters or blogs on writing, they go to meetings, workshops, conferences, and talks on writing, they do book signings and other book promotions, they act out dialogue, they tape record scenes or the entire manuscript and critique it, they go to critique groups, they edit and edit and edit. And if all that isn’t enough, some of us think about writing in general when we’re not thinking about a specific book or manuscript.

This morning I was hanging upside down in a big chest freezer and it made me think about writing.

No, I wasn’t acting out a murder scene. I was defrosting the freezer. Now, growing up I was tall; I’m not so tall now. I haven’t shrunk, but the next generation has gotten taller, so 5 foot 9 and a half inches doesn’t seem as tall as it did when I was in high school. But, even so, the freezer is quite deep and to get the melted ice off the bottom and sides, I had to bend over the side and just about hang upside down, with only my toes balancing me on the floor.

And this made me think about writing.

How many times do we have a character do something without checking to see if that character could physically do it? Take defrosting a chest freezer as an example – not that you’re likely to have a character doing that, but you might. Hmm, I’m seeing a female character trying to defrost the freezer when the killer creeps up behind and shoves her in and closes and locks it. Then…oh wait, sorry, I got off subject. We were talking about defrosting. If I’m five foot nine and a half inches tall and having such a struggle getting the job done, how would you have a character who’s five foot two do it? On the reverse side, there are plenty of things a short person can do that would be difficult or impossible for a tall person.

It’s good to think about such things before a reader catches it and writes you a note or, worse, writes you off as an author to read.

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