Tuesday, November 16, 2010


In Lyon's book, she discusses a trend that she's seen of under-writing. One exercise she puts forth is riffing. It's a pretty simple concept:

You take a passage that you've written where you move through a scene or image really quickly. Then you take out a fresh piece of paper or do a hard return and you just start writing. You write on that passage and instead of having a paragraph, you go write a page, two pages...

The exercise especially caught my attention because I'm someone who's often heard my readers say, "Slow down. Where's the fire?"

With Oracle, one scene where the CWC crew were especially displeased with me was the scene where two major characters, lovers, say goodbye to each other. Yeah, they're totally right, I went way too fast. So, it seems a good spot to use for an expansion exercise.

First, the scene as it is now (and yes, this is the whole scene between the two characters). Next post, the riff.

“Gwyn,” Sedge started.

“Don't say you're sorry, or any of the rest of it, 'cause I don't want to hear it.”

“I love you.” He kissed her. She kissed back. Now was his last chance to call it off. He held her tight for a moment, then released. “I'll be back as soon as I can.”

“You'd better be.”

He climbed into the saddle, gave her one last wave, and headed south. A few days ride south was Selm, his destination. It was the nearest Nyman temple with an oracle. He hoped to get answers there about what he was being called to do. When he got back, he would tell Gwyn everything. All the secrets he had kept for the past seven years.


Jenny said...

You know what just occured to me (that may have occured to me before but is something to bear in mind anyway)? I think the reason you write these scenes so quick is to be blamed on your love of movies/tv shows. After all, two actors playing these roles would load that dialogue with telling looks and what actors call 'moments'. It's a very efficient way of communicating with pictures. However, readers don't have said picture and you have to write it in for them. (the whole picture worth a thousand words kinda thing).

Can't wait to see the riff!

Ali said...

Good point, Jenny. For some scenes, I know, I get a visual and that image says it all for me and I forget that it doesn't necessarily say it all for other people too. Though, it'd be perfect in a movie ;)