Finding More Time

Yesterday I restarted my time-honoured tradition of sneaking away from work to do some writing. I remembered to bring my lunch for once, and around 1 pm I snuck away for my “lunch” hour. There’s a nice Second Cup only 5 minutes’ walk away, and it’s not very busy at all. I got over 600 words written in the hour I had.

The writing is going remarkably well at this point, partly because I’m starting to move into the fast-paced part of the book, and partly because I sat and chatted with an uncle on Sunday about my family’s own sordid past — bootlegging, bookmaking, and so on. Lots of material there to use, but it probably won’t be till next book that I start to use it.

The inspiration is useful but what was really interesting was writing a conversation between the main character and the antagonist for the novel. At this point, the main character has figured out that the bad guy is the cause of all his troubles, and he’s confronting him about it for the first time. I modelled their conversation on one I had with a former business associate, after I found out that he had been playing unfairly with me for the couple of years I worked for him. (He’s outright cheated other people who work for him, which is much worse, but I didn’t get into that; I stuck to my own personal complaints.)

For me, the interesting side of it was that I got to go over what was a very difficult conversation in great detail, and think about what both of us said and how it affected me. This isn’t something you get to do very often, in real life. Even when you retell the story with others, you abbreviate and summarize and concentrate on a very small number of things that were actually said. The fun with rewriting the conversation was that I got to concentrate on my own feelings at the time, as well as figure out the other guy’s motivations from line to line as well (though I didn’t explicitly state those).

The trick is to remain balanced. Although I clearly had a preference for who was right in the real life conversation I had, if I made it clear that the main character was right and the evil guy was wrong, then it would have been boring. I had to ensure that every assertion the main character made had some doubt attached to it, and everything the evil guy said had some kind of truth attached to it. I knew that the truth would come out eventually, and had to trust the reader to accept the ambiguity for now.

So an enjoyable scene to write, and, I think, an effective scene in the book. There’s a follow-up scene coming soon, too, and I’m really looking forward to that one.

Note: I actually writing started this post four or five days ago; stopped when I had a minor computer crash; and then didn’t get back to it for days. Apparently I need to make even more time…

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