Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trapped

Here is the result of the Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone challenge. You will notice it is NOT historical fiction, but it is not my standard science fiction either.

"To the casual observer I appear calm, peaceful as I sit here in my chair. My hands rest on my lap, one folded over the other, every part of me at rest. My shoulders, neck and lips are relaxed and my eyes gaze out the front window as I watch the clouds drifting by. Yes, at a glance I seem tranquil.

Inside I am a raging animal, running full speed ahead trying to escape my fear and anger. Thrashing, flailing, arms lashing out at anything that comes too close. The echos of my rage reverberate through my very bones and I feel an intense need to crush or shatter something. While trembling inside, I slowly, languidly stretch my fingers, then my arms, finally standing up and walking into the kitchen. The dishes must be cleared away, appearances must be kept.

To the casual observer I appear calm, dutifully caring out my responsibilities, but inside I continue to weep and wail as my soul slowly dies, trapped by convention and expectation."

It isn't bad, but it feels flat to me. Perhaps it is because it is so generic and there is no character developement. So, how do we make it better? We ask questions, lots of questions.

1. Who is this woman and what is she afraid of? Angry about?
2. Why does she feel she needs to hide her true feelings?
3. What conventions make her feel trapped?
4. Do those conventions make other women/people feel trapped?
5. What is expected of her and why does that bother her?
6. What will happen if she continues to hide her true feelings?
7. What will happen if she opens up and makes changes in her life to feel happy again?
8. What changes will she make?
9. How will those changes affect the people around her?

Do you get the idea? Questions are the foundation of good writing. As a writer we have to learn to ask the questions and find unique and satisfying answers. That is where the work begins and how the story unfolds.