Friday, July 10, 2009

Into My Unknown

As I was writing chapter two of my story, Moonlit, I immediately encountered a scene that I literally knew nothing about. Lyka, the heroine of the story (so far) is awakening from a drug-enduced sleep into a room she doesn't recognize. I have written internal dialogue, where she makes herself remember as much as she could before finding herself in that room. I want to go back and try to insert a little reality into this scene. How exactly should I write this?

She is a smart woman - at least I hope she is - so I started with trying to figure out what would be the first thought in her head. Now I have hurt my head before. Anyone who has known me long enough will attest to how accident prone I am. But I have never even been knocked unconscious, let alone drugged unconscious after a painful injury. The closest I have ever come is when I had to be put to sleep for a nerve block in my back. The difference was that I knew I was being drugged; I even watched him put the morphine into the iv (looked like milk, by the way). I made it to the count of five before I remembered nothing else. I woke up later, perfectly conscious, being handed cheeze-its and a soda, feeling no pain in my back.

Would this work in the story, in any way? At the end of the first chapter, she was beginning to be treated for her shoulder wounds, which were bleeding pretty badly, as she watched them load her unconscious brother into another long car. I could have them shoot her up with morphine without her knowing, but I would think that when she wakes, she would be pretty conscious pretty quickly. The bulk of her confusion could come from her not knowing where she was, and not remembering how on earth she got there. Kind of like shock.

The less pressing question is what would catch her attention the most. She is lying flat on her back, her head turned to one side. I originally decided that she would slowly come into focus as she was staring at a portable piece of medicinal electronics by her bed. But, I know so little about that that I decided to reduce that to a sort of 'what is that? Wait, where am I?' kind of thing.

I want to keep this part of the chapter short, because she has way to many questions in her head to focus too much on the where am I question (and she will be returning to that question). Mainly, where is her brother, why is she stuck in the bed, what's with the large mirror, and where is her dog. I have a lot of explaining to do...


  1. I think it is important you not get hung up on details you can fill in later. For a first draft write something short and straightforward that gets you out of what you aren't certain about and into the story you want to tell. Hand wave past the details and find the emotional core of the story. Later you can edit skimpy descriptions into tightly written details that flesh out the scene.

    Remember your goal in these early chapters was to try "pantzing". Write fast and don't look back. Don't fear gibberish sentences or incorrect or inaccurate details. Everything can be fixed when you edit.

  2. I am pantzing, and I haven't actually editing anything more than spelling so far. We talked a little about this subject yesterday, and I thought I would ruminate on it a little for a blog post. It wasn't until I was writing the post that I realized that I had in fact been drugged unconscious, twice in fact. I guess the moral of my blog, if you will, is that if you think long enough, you can find something in your real life that you can at least relate to something in your story.

  3. Well put. And it shows how sometimes writing about your writing can help your writing.

    Ugh. That was a tongue twister of a sentence. Still, I think you see what I mean.

  4. Depending on the drug they have put in your system, you will wake up differently. I remember waking up extremely groggy and disoriented the last time I had anesthesia and morphine (wisdom teeth). Most of the animals that we had at the clinic who woke up from surgery were groggy for about ten - fifteen minutes after being given the "wake up" injection.

  5. There is a wake-up drug? Geez, I never knew they put something else into my system. (locking away information for future use.) I might have been groggy when I woke up, but I don't remember that. You know how it is, you notice less about your own reactions than someone else's. I just remember that they told me to be careful getting up. The combination of the nerve block and the morphine might have wreaked havoc with my ability to put one foot in front of the other. Another thing to remember, should Lyka be able to get up in this chapter.