“The Science Project” — and the Lucky 7 meme

Hello, all! 🙂

In her great blog, A Life Less Ordinary, the inimitable Story Teller has tagged me to participate in the Lucky 7 meme, in which I’m supposed to post seven lines from page 77 of my current work in progress. I’m going to bend the rules (as usual, heh heh!) because my work du jour is a short story. Here are 7 lines from page 7 of “The Science Project.”

11-yr-old Joshua has just explained to his younger sister that adult Nematomorpha (an organism he discovered in a drainage ditch on their farm) are free-living but their larvae are parasitic.

“What does that have to do with me?” she asked.

“Maybe nothing.”

“Maybe?” Janet scratched her arm and frowned. “I’ve been itchy lately—I don’t have a larva in me, do I?”

He considered pretending that she might, but thought better of the idea. Science wasn’t a joke. “No. I haven’t figured out how to trigger that mutation.”

“What?”

But the dishes were done. He squeezed out the dishrag, folded it twice and hung it over the tap to dry, and started out of room.

“You’re not going to tell me, are you?” she called behind him.

“You can go to the science fair,” he said.

Duh-nuh-nuh-NUH!

I hope you enjoyed the sneak preview. . . .

And now for the basic rules of this meme:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP

2. Go to line 7

3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.

4. Tag 7 authors

5. Let them know

I tag . . .

Angela Dorsey

Jen Brubacher

Jennifer Neri

Kathy Chung

kc dyer

Rebecca Emin

Shannon Mayer

These are all writers/people that I hold in great esteem. They may be too busy to play, but you never know. In any event, it’s really worth checking out their blogs and/or their books!

Sex, violence, morality, and other scintillating-somewhat-scary subjects . . .

I spent a lovely morning reading and contemplating various writing blogs. Kathy Chung (of Kathy – Rambling—a new blog I will now frequent) wrote about questions of morality that she’s been pondering because of one of her characters.

Joseph Grinton (Writing about modern romance), also newly frequented by me, had thought-provoking words in How To Write Sex Scenes.

I didn’t come across a blog post that opined on how much detail should be given in depicting violent acts, or discussed how to write violent scenes realistically, or tackled realism versus gratuity, but somehow (and not just because I think Sex, Violence and Morality makes a grabbing title) the three things seemed linked in my mind. Writing about them (and similar high-octane subjects) demands a certain bravery.

In the early days of my fiction, I realized that I was guilty of writing in the same manner that I watched scary movies as a kid. Scary music cues something Awful about to happen—swoop, blanket over my eyes. Smack, hands over my ears to tune out screaming and howling . . . I’d actually ask, “Is it over yet?” and wait for confirmation that the most horrible bits had passed before I’d peek again.

In writing that avoidance technique looked like this: Write a hook or some great invocative scene that foreshadows emotional or physical (or better, both at once) danger to character. Insert # # # to show that time has elapsed. New scene starts immediately after Event deemed too violent, too sexy, too something-scary to delve into comfortably. Often, since the reader needed to have some knowledge of the ordeal, I would do some sort of recounting, usually in the form of a conversation between the sufferer of the atrocity and his/her close friend.

“I can’t believe you went through that.”

“I can’t believe it either. I thought I would die when Joe pulled that knife on me and proceeded to—”

“It must’ve been even more terrifying because it probably triggered childhood memories of watching your own mom be killed in front of you . . . ”

“It did—but I managed to summon the will to fight, because I pictured my own daughter Macy’s little innocent face—I want her to grow up strong, to not feel like being a victim is inevitable the way I always did . . . ”

(Okay, please, please note, my writing was never really that bad—or Gah, I hope it wasn’t! But if a person avoids showing events as they happen, unnatural, stilted summary scenes become necessary—and if you’re even thinking, “My summary scenes aren’t stilted. They’re graceful and elegant,” go slap yourself and delete/rewrite the scene!)

I’m still working through what I feel is a good balance between portraying life as it is really experienced and what is too much—a completely subjective line, I realize. And I still battle with self-consciousness and worry. What will people think of me when they see the things that make up my head? What will people close to me say if my stories don’t line up with their ideas of morality? GAH—I write sex scenes and have children who read—awkward! I keep returning to the fact that to avoid writing something because it makes me (or someone else) uncomfortable is stupid and goes against the very reasons I write: to explore the world I live in, to figure out what I think, to yell into space: I am here, trying to figure things out . . . And in the end, if I offend or make someone close to me feel awkward? Well, they don’t have to read me.

So how about you? Are there topics you “don’t go”? What scenes are (were) your Kryptonite? Have you found ways to overcome your inhibitions? Should writers even try to overcome a shyness? Maybe some boundaries are good things . . .