August 13, 2011

The Cure For T.H.S.? Midnight Margaritas, Of Course!

It started slowly, so I didn’t notice it at first. Everything seemed normal. I was speeding along the homestretch to the end of my novel. Okay, so it’s not the best writing I’ve ever done! But I have to get there, whatever way I can. It doesn’t have to be pretty - I just need to finish the race.
At first I just noticed a little swaying. Cool, I thought. My characters are digging the scene. But before long their heads were actually bobbing and weaving, like Mohammad Ali; float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
They were doing it right there on the page!
I said, “Okay, you guys, back in character – I didn’t tell you to bob! That’s not how I wrote the scene.”
Bob, weave, bob, bob, weave, bob, float, sting.
And now I’m suspicious. Have you been drinking?” I ask incredulously. “I didn’t write that into the scene!”  
They just looked at me with their bobble heads, accusingly.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” I said. “What did I do?”
But they were no longer speaking to me.
And then it dawns on me.
The symptoms are easily recognizable: The characters in a scene that you're writing have bobbing or disembodied heads - bobbing, weaving, floating heads! It’s what happens to characters when you’re in too much of a hurry to pay attention to what you're writing. When you forget to write descriptions or settings or T.H.A.D.’s – Talking Head Avoidance Devices (the everyday things people do). Just dialogue. The reader has no idea where those characters are or what they're doing.

And the characters suffer for it.
Ohhhh, no!
My characters have contracted T.H.S.
Talking Head Syndrome!
And it’s all my fault.
What should I do?


What should I do?
I should call the doctor. And so I did. 
I said, “Doctor, is there nothing I can do?”
He said:
Put the lime in the coconut, drink them both together,
Put the lime in the coconut, then you feel better,
Put the lime in the coconut, drink them both up,
Put the lime in the coconut, and call me in the moooooorning,
Okay - maybe I'd better write in a margarita scene. How about a Pina Colada? At least my characters will have fun while I’m trying to fix this mess.
And so, in that vein, this video is a scene from Practical Magic – Midnight Margaritas, playing the Coconut song by Harry Nilsson – you’ll recognize the lyrics above as his.
And to give more credit where it’s due, the term Talking Head Avoidance Device I got from Elizabeth George in her book, Write Away.

BTW, be prepared to get this song stuck in your head!

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