Friday, February 6, 2009

Writing Fairies

I saved this blog entry by Sara Lewis Holmes because I thought it was so well written and I totally GET it.

I find it so strange and fascinating when something happens while we are writing that is totally unexpected.

And even more fun is when the unexpected thing is annoying - stops your story in its tracks - messes up your plans.

It's like this little cosmic Writing Fairy swooping down to throw dust on your story and at first you get all mad and say "Stop that, you're messing up my story"....

....but then you end up saying, "Gee, thanks, you made my story better!"


In The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, the two main characters (Popeye and Elvis, duh) have been trying and trying and trying to convince Starletta to show them the place where dead dogs live. (I can't explain that, you just have to read the story. And trust me, no dogs are killed in this book.)

She FINALLY tells them that she will show them on Wednesday.

They can hardly wait.

Wednesday comes and they dash over to Starletta's. (Note: the "wings" referred to in the passage are these scruffy butterfly wings that Starletta wears.)

Popeye followed Elvis to the backyard and let out a sigh of relief when he saw Starletta hopping down the porch steps, wings aflapping.

Elvis didn’t waste a minute. “Today’s Wednesday,” he said. “Show us the dead dogs.”

Starletta looked him square in the eye and said, “No.”

Now - when I wrote that, I was totally, completely unprepared for Starletta to say no!!

I had PLANNED for her to show them.

But she just up and said that!

I was so shocked.

It stopped me dead in my tracks.

I'm sitting at my desk and thinking, "Well, NOW what do I do?"

My Writing Fairy had tossed that dust down there onto my paper and completely caught me off guard.

Isn't that strange and fun and fascinating?

AND - the best part is that, naturally, it made the story better because the reader wasn't expecting that to happen either - so I'm keeping 'em guessing.



Sara said...

You know you're a writer when you're HAPPY that a character bucks you. I completely agree that "no" is a great word for a character to use every now and then. No way, no how, huh-uh, not doing THAT.

And thanks for linking to my post. (My friend Doris Gwaltney gets all the credit. I swear she changed my life by telling me that bit of wisdom. It's my mantra now.)

P.S. I think there might be an extra "http" in the link though, because it doesn't quite go through.

Janet, said...

You can do it, I'm confident. It will come from the same place down deep that the "no" came from. The Writing Fairy will visit you again.

Barbara O'Connor said...

Thanks for the tip about the broken link, Sara. Fixed it.

Barbara O'Connor said...

And thanks for the vote of confidence, Janet!