- by Kim Watters
Okay, I’m depressed. You know, that mind numbing depression you face when you stare at that manuscript after you’ve ditched yet another pair of too-tight pants that are now lying in a pile on the floor. Finally I realize that I’ve hit that road bump of midlife, and in a writer’s life, I have a sagging middle.
How did this happen?
For my body, all it took was a few years at a desk job and a healthy appetite for sweets. For my book, all it took was a lack of conflict. Sigh. Okay so it took a bit longer for my body to decide to rebel than my characters, but still. I mean, come on. It didn’t have to happen this way but I have no excuse. No thyroid issues to blame it on. The blood tests came back normal. Nope. Just the daily inactivity of sitting in front of a keyboard and trying to achieve that happily-ever-after without an outline or game plan.
So after I slip on a pair of comfy sweats, I realize I need to take action. Real action. Like starting an exercise routine, or gasp, going on a diet. Fortunately for me, the sagging middle of the manuscript is going to be an easier task to face.
This one won’t require expending an enormous amount of energy or sweating from places I didn’t even know had sweat glands or snubbing that last spoonful of ice cream left in the scooper after I dish out some for the kids. Nope, fixing the manuscript is just going to involve massive amounts of brain energy and some more computer time, which is what got me in trouble in the first place. (We won’t talk about the chocolate, though.)
So if I need a workout, then maybe it’s time to put my characters through the wringer too.
While I’m out for a jog–I really don’t like to run,–I can mentally add a new dimension or depth to my characters and force them to grow and change by throwing another obstacle at them. If I can work hard at my goal, so can they.
While I’m doing stomach crunches, which I hate by the way, I can twist the plot into a different direction that forces my characters to make different choices. For me and my own plot direction with the dreaded diet, that might be whether or not I allow a piece of chocolate or a slice of French Silk Pie into my mouth or a stick of celery.
Or I can tape a picture of that skinny pair of pants to the front of the refrigerator, which would serve as a constant reminder of my goal and strengthen the conflict within just as I can strengthen the conflict between my characters by revisiting their goals and motivations.
I’m determined to get rid of both my sagging middles. So what’s stopping me? Nothing.
Watch out. That woman sprinting down the street with a picture dangling in front of her while she’s doing stomach crunches to boot is about to kill someone. Fortunately it’s only in her mind.