Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Broom Closets"

     Have you ever been in a moment of introspection, wherein you find that you lack vision to satisfy the requirements of your intended goal?  While building a community of homes a few years back, my partners and I ran into an interesting realization that may more clearly demonstrate my question.          
     Though all of us were skilled and well seasoned in the home building and Real Estate world, including our male agent, we found that experience and know how were not enough alone, to give us a winning perspective.  The homes were beautiful and affordable, yet we were struggling to sell them and couldn't figure out why.  Finally, one of the partner's suggested changing agents.  We agreed, and the following week I met with our new agent in the model home.  She seemed to like the flow, colors, and general feel, but upon completing her inspection, we returned to the kitchen area where she promptly asked,
     "Who designed this home?
     "I did," I answered proudly.
     "Humph," she chuckled, "...it figures."  Surprised by her sarcasm, I asked why she would say that.
     "Where's your broom closet?" she replied, "...you're all men aren't you, and you designed these homes without consulting a woman.  It's nice," she continued, "...but of all the words I hear it saying, none of them would appeal to a woman." 
     Humbled and a little embarrassed, I immediately went back to the drawing board with her added perspective and found a way to get our homes to speak woman.
     In creating my stories, I sometimes come upon personalities, or scenarios requiring perspective that my bank of experience and knowledge just doesn't have.  When this happens, I've learned to seek help from someone who does.  I do my best to set the stage, position the characters in their respective places, developing the scene and then seeing it through to where it leads.  Finally, when I've done everything I can with it, I seek correction from someone I trust, who also possesses the needed perspective I lack.  Note that I said "correction", not "opinion".  In order to successfully develop characters and situations that reach beyond the surface of reading, I have found it necessary to surrender the right of way to someone with a clearer line of sight, despite my personal attachments or pride.  As in-love as we may sometimes be with our beautiful kitchens, ...sometimes we simply lack broom closets to make them complete.
     About a year back, I was working on a Prequel to "Search For Yesterday", and was proudly reading a portion of it to my twenty year old daughter.  When I concluded, I fully expected to hear her gush about what a terrific piece of writing it was, but instead, she looked perplexed.
     "I don't get it," she said, trying hard not to put her words in a way that might offend me, "...that whole scene has the potential to be great, but instead you just glossed over it, giving little play to the human element that would surely have gone on between such a trio of characters." 
     "How so?" I asked having already learned the above mentioned lesson about broom closets.
     "You have two men: one bad, one good, and a beautiful woman wearing little more than a breech cloth and breast covering, ...doesn't that situation call for more than a shallow exchange between the two men about what they're going to do when morning comes?  Think about it!" 
     I did think about it, and with her help, what was a, "just above average" scene, now screams attitude, suspicion, and sexual tension that digs well beneath the readers skin, to the places that really feel.



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