This scene in “The Story” concluded a recent float tank session like a vague memory from a life I never lived. Shortly after John (right) arrives at Trishna’s family farm, her father Divit (center) has “the chat” he has with anyone that is considering becoming close friends with any of his daughters or sons. Let’s explore how I’m building this scene, so once I write it formally, it will have the appropriate emotion and resonance.
Spoiler Warning Scale: Minor (scene-building)
Let start with building aspects.
These LEGO minifigures are efficient visual representations for characters and scenes. While I can draw characters acceptably, I have a lightbox and sufficient photography skills, so why polish an unrelated skill for essentially placeholders? Once I start writing “The Story” seriously, I would hopefully be commissioning/collaborating with an artist that also believes in the work. On the second note: LEGOs are ubiquitous, so I can have instant and physical storytelling tools, like with Pollyanna.
This made building Divit’s desk easy.
This scene takes place in his office. Divit manages a farm, so he needs to have an organized space where he can guide the daily operations: everything from payroll and inventory to meetings. His office would incidentally be an amalgamation of some managerial offices I’ve sat in over the years. If I were just to dive into writing, I wouldn’t know how to represent Divit’s personality through his office: is the desk intimidating or inviting?
This is the current roadblock.
There are two parts to this obstacle. First, I don’t know enough about Divit, other than a former musician turned family man with a thick accent. This week’s update was a good start in analyzing his character. Backgrounds can externalize personality. Divit’s Desk was inspired by mine. He’s got his newspaper, coffee, books, briefcase underneath, and computer. Neat, organized, and methodical. Divit runs a family business, after all. He can’t let clutter take over his desk.
And yet, there are flowers.
Flowers don’t add to the business in a functional way. While writing, thinking about Divit as more than just “Trishna’s father” for this section, the flowers in Trishna’s favorite color, yellow, came to mind. The original photo was also harsher, rather than this milder reshoot. I still imagine Divit lays down this one rule, “don’t hurt her” with enough force to shock John completely. After fully accepting this rule, I imagine Divit becomes more polite.
To write this scene well, I need to know Divit’s character well.
The second obstacle is my fiction writing isn’t natural yet. I can write a halfway coherent opinion piece in about one to three hours on most topics, read it months later, and still feel like everything works. I’m still getting there with my short stories. Then again, I’ve only written 29… in addition to “References,” my post-high school attempt at writing “The Story.” That writing experiment taught me to respect the practice of writing fiction.
“Don’t Hurt Her” is too powerful of a statement to disrespect.