Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U -- Uncensored

A lot of writer's talk about learning to turn off their internal editors so that they can write freely
without that voice in their heads telling them to go back and rewrite that last sentence, or to rethink that last paragraph. The internal editor interrupts the flow of the proper act of writing.

Just as important as turning off the internal editor is turning off the internal censor. This is the voice that stops you in your tracks by reminding you that someone out there may judge you unfairly by what you have written. It is like being shy about your characters having sex or having to pee in the woods. The censor is the voice that creates unnecessary embarrassment.

This doesn't mean that you have to be explicit about every little thing. That can end up being more tedious than offensive, and is a far more heinous crime in the world of literature. Tedium is tolerated by very few people.

You can lead people up to the sex, give them a glimpse, and then discreetly close the door. When they need to pee in the woods they can step behind a tree.

The point is that we all need to pee in the woods once in while. So incorporate it into your story. Let the urine flow. Let it knock the bark off the tree if need be. Let the reader hear the sound of it hitting the scrub brush. Let this identify the zip up. It will not only make your characters more real, but your story will be richer overall. This is the sort of detail of which life is made.

Don't worry about what mom and dad may think of the subject. Neither of them is the writer. They'll learn to live with it. If not, well, then that's their problem.

I do give my inner censor a little more free rein when it comes to swearing. I will use it only when it is germane to the character. This is because I find that many people who use foul language regularly either have poor language skills or are trying to impress or shock the world with it (or both). So I save it for a character tag to fill out particular personalities.

The main place I have had to learn to silence the censor is when dealing with difficult emotions and things that poke around difficult memories for me. The scenes where I have to strip myself emotionally bare in front of the entire world and stand there unabashed in all of my inner nakedness are always the most difficult. I want to run and hide. The inner censor is hollering at me.

That is exactly when I need to stand my ground. That is when my writing really becomes real. That is when I fly.

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