Ice. That’s the theme of the month. Cold, frozen, winterish ice.
I used to live in Northern Maine. It’s glorious up there, spring, summer, winter, and fall. I loved the winter best. OK, so forty below may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is magnificent to wake on a cold morning, look out your window and see everything covered in a casing of ice. In the sunlight, it shimmers like diamonds. White fire. That’s the only description that fits. Then the power lines and trees start coming down—but that’s a different story and another blog.
The photo here was part of something called Sheila’s Broom. Sheila’s Broom is a snow or ice storm on St. Patrick’s Day. You can see by the ski that there’s not too much snow on the ground (by northern Maine standards), but the ice was still pelting when I took this photo. Here’s another photo, taken the year we got two hundred inches of snow. These are the icicles outside our sliders on the back porch. That black humpy thing is all that you can see of my six-foot bird feeder holder. Here’s another photo of our resident squirrel. It was taken earlier in the year. I always liked to think he was praying for the snow to stop.
What has ice and snow got to do with writing? More than you might think. Ice is a moment frozen in time. A good scene is a moment frozen in time. If your writing style is anything like mine, you start with slush. A lot of words that tell a part of a story, but they aren’t cohesive. At least not yet. Gradually, you scrape away what doesn’t work and you find that the scene begins to come together. Gelling with what went before and with what you hope will come. This is the snow of the scene. It holds together like a snowball, but doesn’t have the oomph it needs. At this point, I usually leave the scene and move on to the next. I want to have the next scene in its slush form. I need to know what highlights I need to have in the prior scene. Then, I return to the original scene and start to mold it, rubbing away the wet snow, using the friction of my characters actions to harden and set the words and emotions. Polishing them to a high sheen. Giving them sharp edges. Making them into ice.
There’s a feeling of deep satisfaction when the process is working well. I can feel exactly when the scene has its final form. When it takes shape and shines. Ice. A moment frozen in time. Odd analogy for a woman who has two series set in the sunshine of South Florida.
What do you feel when you read a well-crafted scene? Do the words shimmer on the page?