I shy away from the tough stuff.
Not in life — I love me a good controversy — but in my writing. I know so many writers who can’t wait to tackle the death scene or their thriller novel idea or that scene so thick with suspense that you almost can’t breathe, but me? I’d much rather insinuate that all that happened and then leave it up to the reader’s imagination. I’m no expert, but I think that’s what they call “lazy writing.”
I’m just not an intense person.
I discovered this after letting my Ryan, lover of all things action and epic adventure (+ me), read a scene I wrote about a 12-year-old girl in a middle school play. He read it, quiet and slow. Then he took a long breath and said That’s really nice. What age is this for again? He was right to ask. Because at what age would you rather read something quiet and slow than exciting and fast-paced? Even so-called “quiet” books have a level of intensity to them, manifested through mystery or concern or curiosity.
I had a pretty intense dream last night. I was a witness to the murder of my next-door neighbor, committed by my other next-door neighbor, Glenn Close. (I think those Damages commercials are getting to me…)
Come to think of it, I probably have a murder-related dream once or twice a week. Disturbing? Possibly. But they turn into really exciting dreams. The type that I don’t want to wake up from because I have to know what happens next. The type that I can’t wait to wake up from because it feels too real in that moment.
That’s what we’re aiming for as YA writers, no? For a plot so compelling, characters so rich and complex, that our readers don’t want to wake up from the reality we’ve created. Stories that will keep them turning the pages, flashlights under blankets, well into the night.
That’s one of my personal writing goals this year. It’s time I got intense.