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An out-of-body experience

July 15, 2013

The electric haze of my rage sparked electric in my peripheral vision, a part of me noticed. It wasn’t like a thunderstorm, more like latent static energy, waiting to discharge on something. The detached part of me, the part underneath that had given up on trying to push back the storms noted that this particular sensation used to be quite common, but had disappeared for a long time now.

But the center of vision was clear. There was no other sound, no other existence except for me and her.

And the part of me that was experiencing the storm, rather than just waiting for it to pass, ran through a scenario that involved her head and the concrete sidewalk behind her, and the sheer pleasure in listening to the dull thud of her head slamming it again and again. It would sound like a watermelon hitting the concrete and it would bring pleasure.

And then the patient part of me noted the ridiculousness of the vision and the moment passed and Beth’s life was saved again as she stood in front of me with that arrogant scowling, acting for all the world like she needed to find a patch of grass to wipe me off her shoes.

During long car trips, I listen to books on CD. It’s the only way to maintain my sanity for that long. Listening to other authors’ work read to me helps me pick up their strengths and identify my weaknesses. I listened to three books on CD in the past couple weeks, by Zoe Sharp, Peter Abrahams, and Jodi Picoult.

One of the things that struck me is that at times I felt like I was there, experiencing what the character was experiencing. I didn’t need to know the setting that much. Mostly, I needed to understand the feelings the character had, to feel what it was like to be them at that particular time.

My writing tends to be first person, and though I can evoke an emotional response, it’s usually more spartan than what I wrote above. Except that what I wrote above–I hope–lets you stand clearly in the character’s shoes. You know exactly what it’s like to be that character at that particular time.

It’s been said that the best way to take in a ballgame called by a good play-by-play guy is to do it on the radio, better to fully appreciate their skills in painting a picture in your mind.

That’s our job, too. When we do it well, our reader leaves his or her body and enters into the existence of the character we’ve created.

By, the way, how cool is it that we can make that happen?

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2 Comments
  1. July 15, 2013 6:53 am

    May I suggest “absurdity” in place of “ridiculousness”?

    Serena Schreiber

  2. Elizabeth Ressler permalink
    July 15, 2013 7:18 am

    Dare I say your PICTURE, for me, displayed sharp and clear the encounter between T & G before the fatal shot?

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