Sometimes, just getting a little bit more information can mean all the difference in how you view a situation. Too little and you can freak out. Just a little bit more can ease your freak-out into I’m-dealing mode.
I’m trying to figure out the underlying question of my story: what it’s really about? I’m beginning to think that my character’s need to just get a little bit more information might be part of it. Which makes sense to me.
It’s an interesting thing, trying to figure out what your story’s about. Sometimes you think you know what it’s about but really it’s just a mishmash of information and scenes; there’s no throughline. I really got thinking about this yesterday after reading Kristin Cashore’s interview on Publisher’s Weekly. In helping Kristin tighten her novel, her editor asked her, “What is this story really about?” and the answer was surprising (to me at least): Kristin didn’t really know. A second draft later (started from scratch!) she had her answer. And we have an awesome book (Bitterblue).
So I have to figure out what my story’s about. I have a few ideas; now I just need to figure out which one, or ones, ring true. Or really, now I just need to finish writing it; I can do the honing later, but it’ll hope if I have some idea now.
On that note, I did some brief, timed writing tonight and managed to write 727 words. Here are a few. Enjoy and good night!
“Sal, what do you think will happen?”
“Happen? What do I think when what will happen when?” In one smooth motion, she reached down and scooped a chunk of fallen cement off the ground and flung it sideways into the water. It make a small plunk and then was gone. “Never could skip them,” she said, making a face.
We walked on for a little bit before I answered. “When the buildings crumble.” She looked sharply at me then reached for another piece of broken-off cement. “I mean look at how many of those you’re finding,” I said, “and just earlier, I found a building where the metal had chipped and rusted away and I could see brick under it. Brick. The only brick I’ve ever seen is in pictures in the archives of History class.”
“Then how’d you know it was brick?” she asked. I hissed and stopped walking. She stopped with me.
“What does brick look like?”
“It’s kind of red with chips in it.”
“And what’s it used for?”
She flung the cement chunk into the water before turning to me. “It used to be used for the walls of buildings, but that doesn’t mean—”
“This was ‘kind of red with chips in it,’ and it was part of a building wall – the hidden part,” I said, folding my arms over my chest. I could feel my foot starting to tap and stilled it.
Sal looked at me, I looked at her. She pushed her blonde hair off her forehead, I recrossed my arms the other way. Finally she laughed.
“Okay, fine, it was brick. I don’t know why it frickin even matters.” Little crystals of cement crunched under her heel as she turned and started walking again.
I wanted to scream.