Friday, 22 March 2013

The Gap Between Head and Page

Last week (or it could have been the week before the way the time is playing evil tricks on me) I finally wrote a scene that has been in my head for about 8 years. It was a scene that came to me when I first had the idea for this book, and which kind of informed and inspired the way the story developed. Although much of the book has been written, then re-written in a slightly different way with the characters under different names, then re-re-written with the original names but a different POV and/or motivation, this scene was one I hadn't actually committed to paper before, and through all the huge changes that this story has undergone and storms it's weathered, the way I'd pictured it had remained pretty much unchanged; a solid platform of certainty in the shifting landscape of the story.  I knew the circumstances under which it would take place, the three characters who would be in it, the setting, the mood and the way it would relate to what came before and after. I could see it - and I still can.

So why in the name of the Easter Bunny is the scene I've written NOTHING LIKE THAT??

It's all most unsettling. My very deep and emotionally loaded scene is now littered with other - very minor - characters, and instead of taking place in bleak, freezing February it's now June. The mood of yearning and despair that was supposed to pervade it has been replaced by a something less emotionally loaded, and whereas it was going to be the point where the dynamic between the hero and heroine really shifts, as it turns out they barely connect at all. Of course, as I write this it does occur to me that the changes I've made elsewhere were bound to have an impact so I suppose it's only logical, but it does still take me by surprise when the words I put on the screen end up creating a very different picture than the one in intended to write. Does it happen to other people, or is it just me?

The upside is that all the emotion that was supposed to be in that scene, with its shadowy chateau and candlelight and scratchy gramophone waltz (though the music in my head was this) now needs to go somewhere else. And so a completely new scene is taking shape, with rosy apple orchards and syrupy sunlight. And the music in my head is this. (DON'T LAUGH.) Ho hum. Onwards and upwards.


Cally Taylor said...

That ABSOLUTELY happens to me, not just with scenes but with entire novels! Hugely frustrating (& a bit scary) but hopefully my characters/subconscious/whatever knows what it's doing!

India said...

Cally, you have no idea how reassuring that is! Thank you for making me feel better - if it happens to you it definitely can't be a sign of total manuscript derailment! I'm now actually quite enjoying writing a scene I haven't already played to death in my head...