Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spilling Blood on the Page

Every once in a while I gear up to write a scene that I know is going to be unsettling. I tend to stall for time, checking Facebook or my Amazon sales page before writing such a scene. It's typically something that might be painful or disturbing. Or it could be hitting a nerve on something in my past. What's the saying about writing? Just sit down and open a vein?

The scene in question involves the disappearance of two middle school kids. It's for my latest novel, Killer on the Road. It wasn't easy to write. I hope the reader will find it as unsettling as I did. Our main job as fiction writers is to tell a story, but it's also to evoke an emotion in the reader. Stephen King once said that you need to hurt the reader a little. Not much. But just a little.

I think good writing is unflinching. King never flinches. Certainly not when it comes to gore, but more importantly, not when it comes to his characters. He shows us every wart, every raw emotion, every thought and action they wouldn't necessarily want the world to see.

My advice? When you come to something uncomfortable in your writing, get it on the page. Expose it, even if it hurts a little. If you think you shouldn't "go there," go anyway. Spill some blood on the page. Your story will be richer for it.

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