Jilly: Powerful Shots of Story

Michaeline’s post yesterday (Story Bites for When You Just Can’t) was exactly what I needed. I’m tantalizingly close to the end of my draft, and I know what I need to do, but this last handful of scenes is driving me bananas.

I’m not the fastest writer, but once I’ve figured out what’s supposed to happen in a scene, I can normally nail a decent draft in a day or two. Right now, each one is taking me a week or more: write, delete, rinse and repeat.

My problem is that all the key players are coming together and the stakes are high. In my head the scenes are great, but capturing that intensity on the page is hard. My lack of progress has been making me very cranky indeed, so I thought I’d take Micki’s advice and see if approaching the problem from a different angle would boost my spirits and improve my productivity.

I already have a playlist and a collage for Alexis, so I decided to try something different and write a haiku for each main character at this critical stage of the story.

I’m no expert on haiku, but what I know is this: they should be three lines long, comprising seventeen syllables in a five-seven-five pattern. And ideally they should provide an insight by juxtaposing two contrasting—or conflicting—ideas.

That sounds like the perfect structure for a brief story shot that aims to capture the essence of the character and their conflict.

I’m pleased to report that I managed to come up with something for each character. Here goes:

Alexis (heroine)
If I help, I’ll hang.
My brother wants my power.
If I hide, we’re doomed.

Darryl (the brother in question)
This triumph is mine.
An orphan claims the credit.
She’ll pay for her lies.

Kierce (hero)
Combat is my trade.
My rule: leave no man behind.
I won’t lose this girl.

Steingrimm (the Big Bad)
The spoiled prince preens, but
The Star’s keeper made the spoils.
She won’t spoil my plan.

The Princess Dowager (Darryl’s grandmother)
Royal blood is pure;
The by-blow’s power is stronger.
I’ll make the hard choice.

Even though they’re not especially good, my haiku achieved their objective. I had fun writing them, and they made me focus on the barest bones of the story. I have no idea whether they’ll help me power through to the end of my draft, but I feel energized and ready to try, so here’s hoping. I’ll keep you posted!

What are you up to this weekend?

5 thoughts on “Jilly: Powerful Shots of Story

    • Thank you, Rachel, for the kind words and the encouragement! It’s really frustrating, being so near and yet so far.

      I have builders coming to do some repair work at home on 12 June (two weeks from now). The place is likely to be chaos for the remainder of the month, so I HAVE to finish the draft before then, whatever it takes. Here’s hoping the haiku help 😀

  1. The thing about haiku is how it crystallizes things down to their essence. I think I’ll take a shot at that when I’m ready to pick The Demon’s in the Details up again.

    • Exactly! I had fun and reminded myself to focus on the fundamentals. I’m definitely going to add haiku breaks to my craft toolbox.

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