Anyway, I am -- and for the past few hours have been -- trying to write a scene in the third part of Gallaetha. Yeah, it's one of the climaxy ones. It has a penultimate sort of vibe to it, even when I'm writing. This is the scene with 'that sword' in it, when all that business is finally explained in what I hope is going to be a satisfactory way.
Character development has been a lot of fun. Dominic has some fun moments, Annette has some fantastic dialogue and a third character is, and has always been, a joy to kick the absolute shit out of.
Obviously this is just my opinion as a writer. This scene, up until this point, has been going really well.
But I've hit a wall. There's actually joke in that phrase somewhere, when you realise what's actually stopping me.
I have to describe a building.
There, y'see? Wall. Buildings have walls. There was a joke there. A better mind than mine might have seen it, but you're stuck with me and all I can do is point out that there's a joke there. Change your life because of it.
The thing is about this building, and indeed, like every building in Gallaetha -- I know exactly what it looks like in my head. I can picture it as a solid, three dimensional object. I know the scale it has compared to the other buildings in the area, I know how many windows it has and what colour the bricks are. I even know some random trivia about the place, like the battle that took place outside during that war everyone in Gallaetha is always banging on about.
Thing is -- architecture just doesn't interest me. I always hate describing buildings. See my description of Yorrick from book two, or any time I try to take a look at the Nomad's Rest. I can picture these things, but I lack the vocabulary to describe them, yet every time I try to research the subject I end up nodding off in my chair. It's like a mess in my bedroom. It fails to hold my attention so I just live my life around it.
It's not just buildings either as it goes. There's a reason why I set the first Gallaetha book in a desert -- no scenery. I hate describing scenery of any kind. Try as I might, I just seem to run out of words. I end up wrapping the entire world up in cottony bundles of purple prose and desperate metaphors and wish like hell I can get back to the internal monologues and the wisecracks and the swordfights and the plot.
This is why I really appreciate Elmore Leonard's crime writing. It is bereft of scenery description for the most part, focussing on character and dialogue and action over what the city looks like. Most of the time he can even get away with 'this is Detroit' or 'this is Israel' or 'this is Hollywood' and the reader can fill in all the blanks for themselves.
I'm even realising now that I hate scenery description in general. I usually just skim it in the books that I read. 'Home' an otherwise decent book by Marilynne Robinson had next to no effect on me because I internally dozed off during the first two dozen pages where the lead character describes field after field of flowers as, what I think, is a metaphor for childhood. The opening scene of 'Rebecca' by Daphne de Maurier? Y'know the one, 'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again.' It had zero fucking effect on me. None. Nothing. I can maybe concede that the metaphors are quite clever in hindsight, but that's only after you've read the book entirely.
This is in no way an attack on the book, of course. 'Rebecca' is a fantastic novel by one of the best writers working. It's just that first scene makes me want to either take a bathroom break or go level up a chracter in a Final Fantasy game, just anything so long as I'm not reading. It is the commercial break of literature.
Not that I could do better, obviously. But that's my point, I don't want to. I have no interest in any sort of scenery description whatsoever. I want to just be clinical with it and say 'here is what is there, this is actually the thing that is in front of the character' but there are whole layers of meaning that you need to construct. You need to build a structure on emotions that you don't really feel, that your characters don't really feel, that your reader is just gonna skim over anyway.
So why even bother torturing myself? Hard to explain really, unless you're a writer too, and you understand when a scene or a description is missing something but you just can't put that something into words. I know that the reader needs to see this building. It's not plot specific, but it's good flavour. It'll, I hope, absorb you a little deeper into this world.
A lot of it is down to personal taste. Some people love reading endless waves of purple prose about chocolate box buildings and golden daffodils. That's not a failing or anything, it takes all sorts to make a world, some people juggle geese etc. It's just not my thing. And, no offence to anybody, but I don't think there are many people that are reading Gallaetha who are in it for the scenery descriptions. I'm not sure why they're in it, but I can't help but feel that the scenery descriptions will only put them off.
Imagine if I put an ending here. Let it change your life. Go on that shooting rampage you always wanted. Just, remember, I am not culpable for it in any way.
(About halfway through writing this, I actually unblocked myself and smashed through the rest of that scene. Hence, the lacklustre ending.
At least I'm blogging again! For a bit at least.)