Fluidity

Sunset at La Jolla, CA, USA

Sunset at La Jolla, CA, USA

I just got back from another vacation at the sea, enjoying the sun and surf. As always, great fun to hang with that beach crowd, though, by the end, I was more than ready to leave behind all the “dude”-ing that seems so prevalent on our western coast.

When I spend time watching the waves, I feel a bit sad for people who have never seen or experienced the sea in all its natural glory. Whether that’s enjoying the rush of a curling rip on a longboard or the soporific lap of a gentle tide in a rowboat, it’s one of life’s great adventures, to be in the sea. It makes one feel small yet in touch with the world as a whole. It’s primal, and soothing, and frightening, all in the same moment. It also makes one appreciate the responsibility championed by Aquaman and the Submariner a bit more.

Stepping into rolling surf takes strength, courage, determination. As strong a swimmer as you may think you are, you can easily get wiped out…or, at least, shoved back to shore by an even stronger wave. But I do it, because the sense of joy and freedom to be in those swells is too well-loved for me to consider staying on the beach all my life.

The same can be said for writing, I suppose. It’s easy to stay in the shallows, where we’re safe. It’s fun, too, just wading around, getting our feet wet, without any hint of danger. The sand stays under our toes; it’s just a hop to dry land. It’s calm, cool, refreshing. But, there’s no rush, no excitement. There’s no sense of triumph to be had simply dunking our toes. Anybody can do that.

So, we stride deeper, against the current. We move our arms and legs to stay above the water line. We swim. We dive. We ride. Not for ever. Maybe not even for very long. But we push ourselves, because adventure calls among those tall, crashing tidal breaks.

What’s adventure without action, though?

I’ve spent most of my writing life working in drama, where tension comes from feeling and emotion, not action. It’s a good place for me to be, I think, and I enjoy it. But, every once and again, I feel the urge to step out a bit further, past my safe boundaries.

On the plane flying out to the coast, I wrote about 3000 words of a throwaway story. Just me typing away to impulse, really. But, I wrote a little action scene. Now, I’m not strong with action: too much description, not enough tension. “Confusing,” readers have told me. And, “Boring.” Yikes. That wasn’t something I liked hearing. But, I’m actually rather pleased with this one. It’s short, which I think is good. About one action for every one or two seconds or so, too. And, it’s got a bit or resonance for the characters, which I always like.

I’d like to try my hand at more action, if the story warrants it. I think that’s important, too: action for action’s sake – just as drama for its own sake – does no favors to a story. Letting a story’s voice tell me what it needs and wants is a part of storytelling I need to remember. But, for now, I’ll enjoy these little action scenes.

I’m working through my backlog of blog updates this week. So, I’m asking for your patience a tad longer. It was a bit too wonderful to step away from the Internet for several days!

What’s your favorite sort of scene? Drama? Humor? Romance? Action? Have I forgotten some? What do you do to push yourself out past your regular boundaries?

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15 thoughts on “Fluidity

  1. I love reading the comparisons fellow writers make between the real world and writing. The Atlantic Coast tends to be calmer than the Pacific (except for those hurricanes and nor’easters), don’t you think? Some of my favorite vacations have been to California and Washington state, where I’ve seen the raw power of the somewhat paradoxically named Pacific Ocean. Although, I’ve never tried surfing, and it’s not on the bucket list. πŸ˜‰

    Personally, I love a good dialogue scene that zips the action forward through the characters’ words. I’d like to think I’ve managed a few of those for Meghan!

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    • Our mid-Atlantic coast tends to be a bit calmer in most port spots, yes. But, there’s still some great waves to be had. πŸ˜‰

      I really dig your dialogue, JM. You’ve got an enviable skill for moving the story and characters forward without it feeling like a huge info-dump. The conversations are all quite organic and natural. I can absolutely envision Meghan and her cohorts having those actual conversations.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. So, not having been to the ocean in years, just reading your description of it felt like I was thrown back to the beach to see and feel what you had experienced. I’ve never had that experience to appreciate the ocean so deeply, so it’s remarkable that just reading about it helped me live it.

    I don’t know if I have a favorite scene. Recently, I’ve gotten back to writing fight scenes and actually struggled with how I wanted it to play out. And yet, most of the fights flowed fairly naturally in my mind. It was only describing it without losing the pacing or interest that made it hard, so I completely understand where you’re coming from!

    I definitely love dialogue between characters in various scenes, so it’s pretty hard to pinpoint one specific type of favorite.

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    • I’ve found my interest sways between a lot of different types of scenes, too, spooney. Nothing wrong there. I did find it surprising to realize how much I was inspired to write – and *enjoyed* writing – those action scenes, though, as they’re definitely not what I do well. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for commenting!

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  3. I know what you mean about finding certain scenes easier to write. For me, I’ve found it’s about finding a ‘way in’ – once I know that the scene is easier. Strangely, i started off writing more comedy and then went through a phase of years where everything was dark and morose and the only thing I really felt comfortable doing was intense, overly-written description! I suppose my favourite parts are when my characters are watching something, so I get to describe it through their eyes, and try to give it some meaning.

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    • That’s great advice, Gabriela, and something I try to do as much as I can: find my “in” to a scene. I love that it can be through dialogue, silence, action, or stillness. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for commenting!

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  4. Fighting scenes are the hardest for my to write because I have little experience with fighting and it’s such a dance to choreograph. But I recognize it and I work really hard to make them work. πŸ™‚

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    • I agree the lack of direct experience makes writing fight scenes difficult. We want them to be exciting, but, in reality, actual fights are often over with in a few actions. But, three or four punches to the face or a solid kick to the groin doesn’t make for much of an action set piece! πŸ˜€

      Thanks for stopping by, Kourtney!

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    • Ha! Don’t worry about the double-comment, Kourtney. At least the post made you think both times. πŸ™‚

      I try to study movie scenes for help with action…but, you’re right. Depending on the choreographer, cinematographer, and/or director, a fight scene can be pretty hard to understand. I could go off on a rant about it, but I’ll spare you. πŸ˜‰

      Thanks!

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      • LOL. Thanks for understanding. It was such a good post too–I guess I felt like I had to add my two cents. Or 4 cents. πŸ˜‰ I also hate scenes with a dozen people talking. I can’t follow what is going on. Same in real life–big groups can get overwhelming. I think that’s why I tend to love one on one scenes in my own novels. πŸ™‚

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        • I know what you mean about big scenes. I do enjoy writing them sometimes, but, for the most part, I prefer the intimacy between just two people. Although, when it’s two people of the same gender, I get a bit tired writing their names all the time! πŸ˜€

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