Monday, February 28, 2011

Are you a Creator or a Discoverer?


So I’ve bee wondering, lately. Is writing really an act of creation, or is it actually an act of discovery? My hero and heroine, Rob and Marguerite, in The Lady and the Minstrel caused me to ponder this as I struggled to write their second kissing scene last week. I have a sparse draft of the scene from the original novel. All I thought I needed to do was to punch it up a bit. Easy, right? So this was my original, punched up version.

He lowered his head very slowly and saw her eyes drift shut just before his own did the same. The trap did not slam around him until his mouth found hers. This time her arms did not creep, but flung about his neck. She kissed him back with a desperate fierceness and he sank helplessly into the swirling tempest of pleasure that stormed through his veins. One kiss. Just one. But he could not keep this vow any better than he’d kept his first. Again and again their lips snatched together until she finally pulled away with a gasp. He darted a quick kiss to her forehead before she hid her face against his shoulder.

Her voice came muffled against the cloth of his homespun. “So this is what it is like, then.”

He moved a hand to stroke her dark curls. “What, my heart?”

“Love.” And her arms tightened around him.

I wrote the rest of the scene that followed and went to bed convinced that all was well and that I would be ready to move on with their story the next day. But when I sat down to write again and reviewed the above paragraph, a strong feeling came to me: "No, that’s now how the kiss happened."

Now, there was nothing really wrong with the paragraph. It didn’t make what followed any more or less effective. Why did I need to rewrite it? Nevertheless, my characters were stubborn in their insistence that I do so. So after some wrestling, I came up with this instead:

Her smile was the final nudge he needed. He saw her eyes drift shut just before his own did the same. He did not hesitate as he had in her chamber, but settled his mouth warmly and firmly over hers. Her arms slid around his waist and her body leaning into his reminded him how small she was. Just once more? How had he ever thought one kiss could be enough? He had lied all these weeks to himself. It had not been enough that night in her chamber, and it was not now, not when she met his lips again and again with this snaring fervor. Because Robert had chosen to tamp down his passion with the many women who had tried to entrap him through the years did not mean his hot nature was immune to temptation, and this little ball of fury tempted him as no other ever had.

How long he would have stood there drinking from her nectared lips like a man parched he did not know. When she finally pulled her mouth away, gasping, he continued to press kisses to her cheeks and brow until she hid her face against his shoulder.

Her voice came muffled against the cloth of his homespun. “So this is what it is like, then.”

He moved a hand to stroke her dark curls. “What, my heart?”

“Love.” And her arms tightened around him.

Again, there was really nothing wrong with this. The rest of the scene would have worked just fine with this scenario. And yet this time, even before I shut down my computer for the night, again I heard Rob and Marguerite say, “That was not our kiss.” And I knew I’d have to tackle it again yet a third day.

After more mental and emotional gyrations, the next day I came up with this:

He cupped her face in his hands and lowered his head very slowly. Her eyes drifted shut and she leaned her body into his, leaving him no doubt of her anticipation. The hesitation that had checked him in her chamber, the fear of how she might react to his kiss felt like a distant, illogical dream. His mouth settled now over hers with warm confidence and found an eager welcome. He felt her arms weave around his waist, reminding him how small she was as she nestled still closer against him. Small, but surprisingly vigorous, for her mouth quivered swiftly from candid acceptance to a clinging fierceness. His blood surged and his kiss deepened. All the careful caution that had guided him o’er the last five years swirled away as he sank hopelessly into the eddy of pleasure.

How long he would have stood there drinking from her nectared lips like a man parched he did not know. She pulled away at last with a tiny gasp. He caught one more snaring kiss before she hid her face against his shoulder. Deprived of her lips, he took what comfort he could in pressing his mouth into the soft cloud of hair atop her head.

Her voice came muffled against the cloth of his homespun. “So this is what it is like, then.”

He moved a hand to stroke her dark curls. “What, my heart?”

“Love.” And her arms tightened around him.

“Ah, yes,” Rob and Marguerite said with beaming smiles. “Now you have it.”

Again, what amazed me was that technically, any of these versions should have “worked”. And yet, my characters insisted that only one of them was “right.” As fanciful as it sounds, it was as though somewhere out there in the ether, their “true” kiss existed. My challenge, after all, was not to “create it”, but to “find it” as it had already occurred.

So I’m curious. Am I the only one who has experienced this with their characters? I would love to hear from you! When you write, do you feel like you are creating a story out of thin air? Or like you are “discovering” a story that somehow already exists and you only have to find it? 

8 comments:

Rebecca said...

It's funny, but both! I have rewritten paragraphs--or even started and backed up several times--until it just felt right. Writing feels like a blend of creativity and discovery to me.

Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed reading your scenes!

Danielle Thorne said...

So you don't want to know which we like best, right? lol

Maybe you just really needed to search a little deeper inside of yourself to find and feel your hero's thoughts.

I've not had this issue with kissing, but with serious emotional scenes, I do find they are written and rewritten until it feels right.

Miss Mae said...

I loved all of these! Ooh, good stuff!

Huh, I never thought about it, but I believe I create. Yep, I'm in charge, me, the one behind the keyboard and nobody will tell me otherwise...um, except...well...

Rachel Rossano said...

I am a bit of both. It matters the story, the moment, the scene, and the characters. However, I am constantly amazed at what does come through in my writing when I go back to read it later. "I forgot I added that element in" is a constant refrain of mine these days. :)

Joyce DiPastena said...

I've always thought I was in control before, even when I've had to rewrite scenes, but this was just so odd. It was the first time I had such a strong feeling of "discovering" the correct version of an event. Anyway, I'm glad to know I'm not alone! (And yep, Miss Mae, keep telling yourself that. As long as your characters know the truth, that's what really matters. LOL!)

Marsha Ward said...

When I thought I had finished the final scene of my last book, my FMC woke me up to insist that I had it totally wrong. She wouldn't let me sleep again until I agreed to grab a pad and write down the gist of her objection. Since it wasn't the first time she had disturbed my sleep as I wrote the book, I know I was "discovering" a lot during the writing of that novel. I have a theory about characters, but if I shared it here, you all would think I was nuts.

Joyce DiPastena said...

I'll bet I wouldn't, Marsha. I'd love to hear your theory sometime!

Wendy Swore said...

"emotional gyrations"- *wink* ah, so that's what those are called. Fun post.