Monday, January 17, 2011
Becoming My Heroine Sometimes Requires An Underwear Change
When I watch America's funniest videos, I always laugh the hardest at the ones where someone or something jumps out and scares some unsuspecting soul. One of my favorites is when a group of school kids(8-12 years old) pass a snowman in a front yard, and the snowman jumps at them. Throwing their books in the air, they run like there's no tomorrow.
What does that say about me? That I have a sick sense of humor? Then there's the one where some young men run a mouse on a string across the floor in front of an unsuspecting frat brother who screams like a little girl and jumps on the counter. That one usually brings tears to my eyes. And Red Skelton and Mickey Rooney in the cave with Elliott the Dragon in Pete's Dragon can set me off just thinking about it.
In my latest WIP, I had an opportunity to include a scene like that, and I jumped all over it. The problem was I couldn't stop laughing. It felt like I was right there at the lake house with my characters. I decided to post the excerpt, although my guess is, although you might think it's cute, it won't have the same effect on you as it did me.
The set up is that my girl, Jordan, and her 70-ish friend, Lola, conspired to help a young girl who has just inherited a lake house from her grandfather. She thinks it's haunted, however, because she hears pounding sometimes. The plan is for Lola, who does tarot card readings, to convince this girl that she's talking to the ghost while Jordan blows the candle to make it flicker as part of the ghost’s response. The story starts just as Lola slams the table for effect.
Without warning, she slammed her hand on the table, nearly spilling the water in the center. "Speak to us now. We mean you no harm and only want to communicate with you to understand why you’re here."
The room was so quiet, Jordan was sure she could hear her own heart beating. She knew Lola was good at what she did, but this performance was Academy Award worthy. Despite being a true skeptic, she halfway believed Lola was actually talking to a dead person.
"There’s only one spirit here," Lola continued, turning to Sandy. "It's your grandfather, and he wants to know you'll be okay before he can leave this earth."
Tears formed in Sandy's eyes. "Tell him I'm fine. Tell him I miss him terribly."
"Tell him yourself. He's here with us now." Lola leaned closer. "If you want to speak to your granddaughter, give us a sign." She glanced up at Jordan nodding toward the flame again.
"It's him," Sandy exclaimed as the flame moved slightly when Jordan blew on it. "Oh, Grandpa, I miss you so much."
Jordan concentrated on the candle, her heart still racing from when Lola banged on the table. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a slight movement next to the fireplace, behind the drapes on the right, and she gasped.
When Lola shot her a reprimanding look, Jordan mouthed “Sorry.”
Sheesh! She was more than a little freaked out.
"Your granddaughter’s fine," Lola began, before turning to Sandy. "What was his first name?"
"Douglas, you can have peace now. Be gone..."
Just then the furnace kicked on, causing the drapes to flutter, and Jordan's nerves got the best of her. As she screamed, she watched in horror when one side of the drapes pulled away from the wall and headed directly toward her.
Jumping from the chair, she ran for the door, glancing back, only to see the other drape chasing them, too.
Lola nearly knocked her over, trying to reach the door before the drapes attacked. Sandy ran past both of them, screaming at the top of her lungs. She flung open the front door, and all three women poured out into the cool night air, nearly rolling down the steps.
Panic twisted Jordan's insides, and her silent scream was suffocating her. When she had almost made it to the car, she tripped over Lola's caftan, tumbling across the front lawn. Struggling to get up, she felt the drape touch her shoulder.
I have started using Dragon Naturally Speaking, a voice recognition program because not only does my typing suck, but I'm still recovering from hand surgery. Anyway, I talk - Dragon types. As I'm reading the dialogue, I can't stop laughing. Dragon keeps asking me to please say that again. By now I'm nearly wetting my pants imagining the drapes chasing them, and I holler "I can't. Wait a minute." Dragon keeps typing. Still laughing I holler "Quit typing, dammit". You know what Dragon typed. By the time I was able to get control of myself, I had about 10 lines of idiot commands typed.
The point I'm trying to make with all this is in that short period of time when I was dictating my scene, I was actually Jordan, in the room with my friends running from the drapes.I felt her fear, although she wasn't laughing.
So my question for you all is do you ever find yourself in that situation? Do you ever imagine yourself as your heroine? Does it help writing certain scenes?I would love to hear the dialogue that put you there.