I wanted to read her WIP, Delitescent. She told me I could ... but I had to hand over The Thief's Conspiracy. Draft one.
Great idea, right?
That was my first reaction. But I have learned a lot since letting her read it. She started it last Friday and finished it on Sunday and ...
It was amazing.
Don't get me wrong - my first draft is horrible. But all first drafts are horrible. We both went into it expecting that.
So I said, right off the bat, that I wanted her to read it for fun. I wanted her to find the good stuff in it. Because I have a hard time seeing that when I'm reading my own work (and loads of other people probably do, too). I wanted to know what parts of draft one were good, meaningful. What she liked. What I should keep. She sent me notes through Pinterest messaging, which I copied into a word doc. I now have a whopping 15k masterpiece of mostly incoherent fangirling. (Yes, Elle. It's that long.)
I'm going to do another post on this later - we call it "encouragement reading" and it's amazing - but today I want to go to a specific instance that's happened to me while reading her first draft.
I was about 50k into it when I came to this scene with one of her MCs.
It wasn't short. It was a good 2k words long. It featured one of her MCs. The mean, hardcore, callous one that's way too fond of her pistols. She's got a strong western accent and does more insulting than breathing.
This scene was not an action scene. It was a quiet moment. This character, so tough and cruel at times, slipped away to visit a place she hadn't been to in several years. And on the walls were pictures.
Pictures she had painted.
There were only a few, and they featured people she had met in her life. People that had impacted her.
She meets an old woman coming down the alley, and when the woman offers her some paint to add to the "beautiful work" already there, this character can't refuse. And when the woman leaves, she takes up her brush and begins to paint.
This scene stopped me in my tracks.
Why? It wasn't heart stopping action. It wasn't a funny messing around scene.
No. It was just a moment. A strong one.
This character, who'd been so mean and even cruel the whole book, has a moment of vulnerability.
It's tempting to shove these types of scenes aside. They're not "entertaining" as we usually go for in books.
But they're deep. They're meaningful. In a book full of crazy twists and turns, a book whose action doesn't stop, just a moment of stillness can be more impacting than any other part of the story.
Moments of vulnerability are important for any character, but especially with those that force themselves into a mask or role. Characters who have to act a lot. Who are under pressure by other people, or are in a situation in life where they have to be someone they're not in order to cope. It's really important for these types of characters to have a moment of vulnerability.
That mask has to fall away at some point. And when it does, it bonds readers to the character even more.
I used to think of "moments of vulnerability" as scenes where the character snaps. Where the tears finally come, where the pressure building the entire book finally spills out.
But in this scene, the character did not cry. She didn't have an emotional break down. She didn't spill all her problems to the wind. She didn't even say a word. She just painted and thought and felt. She could have had a breakdown, sure. That's certainly how some people become vulnerable, but it would be totally out of character for her.
Your character doesn't have to cry or have a break down in order to be vulnerable. In this case, simply showing emotion and softness is a vulnerability, since she's so rough and tough and callous on the outside.
These moments are when you realize a character has been acting. And they're either very different, or sometimes completely opposite, of what they've been giving everyone the impression of.
Moments like this are powerful. Moments like this remind us of our humanity. That no one is exactly how they appear to be. Everyone has a part inside that remains hidden from the rest of the world. Some people might get glimpses of it, but no one will ever truly see it. When you're reading a book, when you're in a character's head, you can see it. You experience that vulnerability with them. And you'll connect on some level, because everyone has worn a mask at some point in their life. Some more than others, but still. Everyone has.
Everyone knows what it's like to try to be something you're not.
Moments like these bond us. They make the story come to life under our fingers. They make it live and breathe, and they make us feel.
Don't underestimate that.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Thank you, Elle, for letting me use your fabulous WIP as an example, and for inspiring this whole post in the first place. <3
I also have an announcement! *clears throat* I am a Christian, as most of you know. (hopefully) And I've been thinking about starting a Christian blog for some time now. This is technically a writing blog, and I wanted to keep it that way so I wouldn't come off as preachy to any non-Christians that liked my writerly advice. I wasn't sure if I could handle two blog by myself, however, so I called upon my friend Carlyn Ross and she volunteered to co-blog with me! Today she kicked it off with a lovely post about what she's going to be studying this year, and I'll be posting next week about why our blog is named what it is, and what I plan to be blogging about in the future.
Please bop over and read Carlyn's first post!
Do you have a moment of vulnerability in your WIP? Care to share? *sly grin*