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Friday, February 5, 2010

Day 30: Mapping Out Writing Time: How Much Baggage Do You Need To Get Rid Of To Move Forward?

I've written about this before, and thought this topic would make a good reminder and great Write-a-Scene Writing Prompt.

As we grow older, most of us carry around baggage in one form another. Maybe it's a childhood friend whispering behind our back, "She'ssoweirdlet'sditchher," and believing everyone will believe the same thing. A guilt we have from the way we betrayed someone. An old boyfriend we quite can't forget because of the sweet words he whispered, even though he dumped us for a prettier girl. Wondering whether we will ever be somebody special because in high school we were destined to be the someone people teased. Cringing that we ever thought we were ALL THAT in high school because our lives didn't turn out to be the way we imagined it would be. Or the tears we shed for a loved one, of the treasures we keep because we're not quite ready to say goodbye. Or the public manner where the baggage of the beautiful, rich, famous, smartest, and accomplished are thrown about for the world to see. I'm sure you can think of more scenarios, all good fodder for trips down memory lane or a good writing rampage.

Whatever the cause of the baggage, the only way to move ahead is to get rid of the problem, not bury it away to crop up another time. Throw things away. Clean up your clutter. Write what's holding you back on strips of paper. Create a special ceremony to burn all those negative things away. Shout out from the rooftops how incredible you are. Face the music. Don't hide behind others. Have a heart-to-heart, believe in your goodness and dreams, don't let the naysayers get in your way.

How much baggage do you need to get rid of before you can move forward? Think on this for a bit. Get rid of your character's baggage (and yours!). Move forward. It'll be good for you.

Write-a-Scene Writing Prompt: When characters grow or suffer from their experiences, it adds depth and complexity to their personalities--it makes them human. How will they grow and heal? Do they need to get rid of physical objects or change an attitude? Is it through an argument or a heart-to-heart? Or, are they in a position where they can't let go and are forced to live miserably in the past, wondering why this happened to them, dwelling on the what if's?

What kind of baggage is holding your protagonist back?

Write a scene where your MC figures out the Aha! moment so he can move forward in his story. Ramp up the angst, emotion and conflict--you're going to need every bit of sweat and tears you can bring to the story. Add depth and complexity to your MC. This, my friends, will help your readers identify with your characters.

Have fun writing!


Caroline Starr Rose said...

I say use those ugly moments to better understand your protagonist's reactions/movtives.

Vivian said...

Absolutely, Caroline! These moments definitely help us understand our MC. I like your new profile pic!

Becky Levine said...

Great post, Vivian. I think this is why I'm probably going to my HS reunion this summer--to (hopefully) put some of that stuff behind me. It's also, though, why I'm leaving one thread out of my WIP until I have the story down. I know it's going to be hard to deal with, and I don't want it to hold me back from writing the first couple of drafts. At least, that's the plan! :)

Niki said...

What a great post to read after the emotional week I've had. Thanks Vivian XX

Kelly said...

Great post and writing exercise, Vivian!

T. Anne said...

This is terrific not just for my characters, but for me! I suppose I'll tackle my characters problems first. "Navel gazing" seems to be a big one. Apparently too much introspective = too much baggage.

PJ Hoover said...

You're right. My characters do need an aha moment!

Suzanne Casamento said...

It's like you read my WIP and wrote this post. I'm not sure yet what baggage is holding my MC back but I'm hoping she tells me soon!

Solvang Sherrie said...

Nice! Those are the moments that add so much to the story. Good way to mine our own issues too :)