The Small Problems with Writing

If anyone knows about NaNoWriMo, you know you shouldn’t be slowed down by any problem- ask questions later, edit when you’re done and put in even the inexplicable things. But of course that’s not possible. There’s always a part of the Inner Editor that you can’t shut off- some part of you wondering if you need to rewrite that part, if it makes sense, if you can find a better word for it.

Sigh- the issues of writing.

Well, today I came to one of those parts in my story. It wasn’t the worst kind of problem, when I know I am going to get rid of it later on. It was just one of those awkward moments that my fellow writing sisters and I have a problem with. Fight scenes.

They can be incredibly difficult to write, not to mention slow, because you have to figure out how your characters will react and what they will do! Fortunately this was just a scuffle, not an all out fight with blood and bruises (certainly no gore. I don’t have any ninjas)

Now, the worst kind of fight scene is when you have to describe everything in a very physical way, using words like: abdomen, chest, ‘foot pressed on his neck’, strangling, ‘gasping for air until he was bright red’, and all sorts of other things like that. It’s embarrassing, actually- especially when the writer is not a physical, masculine hero (which is the case for me). Fortunately you just have to state the facts and leave it at that- get it over with. But the other problem with that way of writing a fight scene is that I find it usually doesn’t keep me interested. I am being given a scene to picture in my head but I don’t feel it.

So, here’s a paragraph I wrote, written the physical way:

“The man paused and then threw a hard punch against Mark’s jaw that knocked a tooth loose. He was thrown against the wall, hitting his head and shoulder. The force caused him to stumble a little but he caught his balance and started toward the man, his hands outreached, ready to find the man’s throat or else just tackle him, but the gun was in his face before he could get further.”

Okay, I exaggerated it a bit, but it’s very easy to do when you write a fight scene this way.

And this is the way I used, which didn’t exactly feel like a fight scene, it didn’t have the same action, but it implied more emotion- which is important in this scene- as well as bringing in a little bit of the ever-present PTSD which my character is dealing with (and hopefully it makes sense!). It’s the emotion version:

“The man waited a second, and then quickly struck Mark so that he was knocked against the wall. He recovered and was about to return the attack, sensing only that upon being attacked he needed to attack back before it was too late, but the gun checked his action and he drew back again.”

I think I’ll stick with this version.

another interesting problem I came upon in that scene, moments earlier. Trying to find the right word can be problematic. In this instance the guard that attacks Mark is surprised when a prisoner vanishes (literally)

Here’s the sentence:

“Shut up!” The guard barked, clearly ________.” and that word was what caught me up for a while- besides texting 4 different people at the same time. You need the right word, because some times the wrong word can slow it down, oddly enough. Plus, in this situation it was a very specific reaction. The man is surprised, feels like he should be in control (having a gun), panicking, aggressive. So what is that word? I thought of consternated, dismayed, aggressive, shocked but none of them really work because they don’t feel right.

Well, for the moment I’ll go with consternated, but I’m not happy.

oh well. Time to ignore the Inner Editor and go back to the Word War I started a half hour ago.

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2 thoughts on “The Small Problems with Writing

  1. I fought with myself over the same thing for a while. Then when I couldn’t find that perfect word or certain unknown details I just put brackets around it so I can come back later to finish it. It has helped me tremendously.

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