The Filler Effect

Today’s discussion is on what I call The Filler Effect.

Sometimes while writing I come to a point where I need a transition between one set of events and the next. It’s like a buffer is needed between dramatic events. In this case, I wanted to go from a scene with comic overtones to one with danger suddenly encroaching.

Now you can make the jump directly. Look at the scene in Jaws where the three protagonists are comparing scars and singing drinking songs. Then the shark suddenly attacks the boat (or something like that – it has been years since I have seen the movie). It’s a great moment.

But that’s not what I wanted here. I wanted to wind down the comic effect a little first. So basically I was looking at writing an unplanned transitional scene.

I had no idea what it was going to be when I started, but now, at the end of the writing evening, I can say that I think it turned out really well. What ended up happening was that the turn away from comedy became dramatic as my two protagonists began to face the reality of their dire situation in a motel room. Emotions came to the surface, braking through in one while being forced down by the other. I think this is going to be a nice contrast, and it deals with some issues I knew I wanted the book to have – I just didn’t know where I was going to put them.

Well, they certainly got a forum tonight.

And I wrote my favorite bit of writing for the book so far, a short speech by the female, who is expressing frustration and grief in how her relationship with the male is being impared. Occasionally, a woman in one of my books gets a really good speech (the men don’t seem to be as lucky); there’s Mona’s exasperation with her Deputy husband after he has just ruined Christmas dinner in The Mushroom Shift, and there’s Honnikker In Accounting’s Amazing Speech in Boddekker’s Demons; I think part of tonight’s room may qualify for that hall of fame.

Sometimes you have to sit down for an evening of what you think will be drudge work writing, coming up with what is supposed to be mere filler… and it wildly exceeds your expectations. That’s why I call it The Filler Effect. It’s all part of the magic of writing a novel.

Today’s Scorecard:

Chapter: 7
Page: 197 (+7)
Words: 46473 (+1491)

NP – Stan Ridgway, Holiday in Dirt


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