Monday, January 16, 2017

A Scene From Writing Life: Reality Brakes

Greetings, WYMOP readers!
This week, I bring you a scene from writing life:

At a recent multi-author event, we held a large, multi-prize raffle: each item had a bucket, and players bought their tickets and simply put them into the buckets for each of the things they were interested in, one chance per ticket. Participating authors also had buckets, winners there to have themselves written into a story by said author. It’s a neat little prize, and hey, we’re all going to be writing stories anyway, right?
At the end of the event I checked my bucket and found only four tickets, but three names—someone had put their name in twice. Flattering, yes? So it was just three names—two women and a man—and I knew all of them but one woman. I’d already planned on writing more short work for submission this year, so I decided on the spot to use all three: bang—everyone’s a winner. I put things off through the holidays, then set about thinking of a story for one of them.
But wait! Inspiration hit me like a wrecking ball—the one Wile E. Coyote used against Roadrunner, not the one a naked Miley Cyrus rode into the hearts of millions of fourteen-year-old boys.
I have a story idea I’ve been meaning to write for the better part of a year: basically a three-person play, opening with a wife storming into a hotel room to catch her husband in bed with another woman. Two women and a man, all three major characters in the story—and I had two women and a man who wanted to be written into a story. Perfect! It was a certifiably genius idea, that I would knock out of the park! I was so excited I decided to run the idea past my writing/editing partner (who also knows two of the three persons involved).
I'll somewhat paraphrase our conversation:

SL. So you have [man], [woman 1], and [woman 2], whom you do not know.
Mᴇ. Yeah, but I figure I don’t know [woman 2], so I’ll cast [woman 1] as the chippie.
SL. You can’t.
Mᴇ. Well, I mean, I’ll run it by [woman 1] first, of course, but—
SL. You can’t do that.
Mᴇ. Yeah, but she really wanted to be in my story, so I think she’d be okay with—
SL. But what about her fiancé?
Mᴇ. Uh . . .
SL. He’d be pissed.
Mᴇ. But it’s just fiction. I could add a disclaimer saying—
SL. You can add whatever you want, but if you write a story where [woman 1] is in bed with another man, stealing someone’s husband, he’s going to be pissed.
Mᴇ. Maybe you’re right. But what if I—
SL. He’ll be pissed.
Mᴇ. I could—
SL. He’ll be pissed.
Me. But he’s—
SL. Pissed.
Mᴇ. Pissed?
SL. Pissed.
Mᴇ. So, considering that [fiancé] might get pissed, I’ve decided to think of something else to do.
SL. Good thinking.

Okay, yeah, sometimes it’s really, really good to have someone else there to slam on the reality brakes.

Talk to you later!

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