Yesterday’s word count: 651 words.
In other words, I didn’t meet my goal. But I also didn’t break the chain. I’m counting that as a success.
My two extremes as a writer are flat, ie sentences that feel long-winded and dull; and hokey, metaphors that go over the top. I generally try to hit the sweet spot in-between the two extremes with simple sentences and just enough description to set the scene. Yesterday I felt like I was veering back and forth between the two. It’s a critical moment and I want the reader’s adrenaline to be flowing. But at the same time, I don’t want to get gushy.
A couple paragraphs that show what I mean:
He reached out for her and grabbed, his hands closing on her shoulders only briefly before they slid up and around her throat. Natalya’s eyes widened and her hands came up, clutching his wrists, trying to wrench them away, to loosen his fingers. Her nails dug into his skin, feeling the give under them, the dig that said she might be drawing blood, but he didn’t relent.
Her head fell back. The pain in her cheek still hurt more than his hands around her throat, but the pressure felt as if it were forcing her larynx back into her vertebrae, a steady weight closing off her air supply. She kicked Thompson, but her bare foot against his shin was a leaf against rock. He didn’t react and her toes hurt. Drawing her leg up, she tried to knee him in the groin, but his legs were close together, preventing her from reaching an angle that could do damage.
Leaf against rock? Does that cross into hokey?
Preventing her from reaching an angle? Are those really the words that she’d be thinking while being strangled? She’s a doctor, which is why the larynx against vertebrae works for me–I’ve been careful to try to make her voice a medically knowledgeable voice, even in extreme moments.
But I don’t know whether yesterday’s words are successful or not. Today, I guess, I just keep writing and try to save the editing for later. Goal: 500 words, because I’ve got other things to do, including making some fun revisions for my presentation at Full Sail tomorrow. I had some great ideas about it while I was walking the dog this morning, when I should have been thinking about Nat’s next moves. C’est la vie. It’s Oct 16th and I still aim to finish by Halloween.
It read pretty cleanly, so I didn’t stop to think whether a particular line sounded hokey or not. But if you want to hyper-analyze it…okay.
Foot to shin. Leaf to rock. Her foot is not as fragile as a leaf. We’re comparing like things – body part to body part. So with that line of thinking, leaf to rock doesn’t fit. Maybe pebble to rock. A pebble isn’t going to make a dent in a rock, but it’s more solid than a leaf.
Now, I’m thinking my analysis is a bit hokey, but hopefully you get the idea. ;D
Thanks for the analysis, Lynda! I’m not overly worried about my metaphors matching like to like. I think a soft to hard metaphor fits better than a small to large metaphor, I’m just not sure whether I should be using any metaphors there at all. Does one think in metaphors when one is being strangled?
Personally, I’ve never been turned off by an interesting metaphor…unless it’s just one more symptom of a poorly written story. A good story with leap-off-the-page characters usually blinds me to minimal flaws. Not that this example of yours is a flaw.
But I think you bring up a really good question. Does one think in metaphors when one is being strangled?
I truly think not. In crisis mode, I think reality is that a “victim” thinks very little and what they do think tends to be straightforward. (A good example is how unreliable eye-witness testimony can be. One person sees a blue shirt but another sees dark green. Who’s right? Who was thinking clearly at the time?)
But that’s real world. I think writing does need to go a bit beyond reality in order to keep that fictional world around the reader. As long as you’re not beating the reader over the head with it. 😉
Tom Lucas said:
Looking forward to the 2.0 (or 3.0) version of your presentation 🙂
Did you get it yet? I emailed it to you, but Keynote looked as if it crashed while sending. I’m not sure whether it went through or not.
Tom Lucas said:
Did not receive 🙁
Tried again, Tom! Let me know if you get it. This time it made a whooosh sound, which seemed like a good sign.
Whoosh, as in water flushing down the toilet??!! 😉