Orchard House Chapter 4 Writing Notes

When looking at these chapters it has been enlightening to me to see how some elements were intentional and yet others weren’t. I believe every writer experiences that moment when a story begins to write itself. We lay down the characters, what makes them tick, their desires, their hangups, their way of talking and interacting and then we just let them go. Often I am surprised where a story goes once I start writing it. This became evident to me in Chapter 4.

Two scenes here weren’t even intended and yet they flashed into being. One was what I now call the flirting scene, where Summer attempts to get Matthew to dance. Originally I had intended to build a scene around the kitchen radio and once I decided on the song the scene just wrote itself. The only thing I intentionally tried to do was to keep it innocent. Though it may be a little flirtatious, it was about fun not desire. I wanted Summer’s carefree, fun attitude to contrast with Matthew’s ineptitude when it comes to interacting and understanding women. Looking back on this after the fact I didn’t realize I was turning the normal romance novel scenario around. In most novels of the genre I have read it’s usually the guy who is trying to bring the girl out of her shell, but here the female is the protagonist.

The second unplanned scene in this chapter was Matthew’s confession about his ex, Ashley. I had always intended this subject to be broached but not quite this soon. It would need discussion(and still needs it further) eventually, but it wasn’t until the exasperated Summer walks away that suddenly it all came out of my character. By starting the reveal of Matthew’s ill fated romantic back story we can now focus on fleshing it out and see how it has damaged his whole outlook on relationships. When starting this I began with a basic idea that he had been left standing at the altar. As we get further into it in later chapters we’ll see how basic ideas come leaping into being when you don’t try to map them out. This for me is the most exciting part about writing: Watching the unplanned parts of the story unfold.

Once again, music played a big part in the flow of this chapter and when I went into it I had a few songs as my outline and built the events around those tunes. First off there was the REM song “(Don’t go back to) Rockville.” Though it is not specifically mentioned, the reference can be found in the mention of a REM t-shirt Matthew wears. Then as he walks to the convenience store and passes the migrant workers it was the Gypsy Kings Latin version of Hotel California that figured largely in the writing process. I don’t think Matthew would have interacted much with these workers in the course of the story if I hadn’t been for that song which I heard on a Latin playlist on the rhapsody streaming service. The scene here had actually begun being written while listening to “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John. It’s notion of giving up city life for the country way appealed to the story, but once I arrived upon the migrant workers I didn’t think it was a song they would have been singing amongst themselves. Finally, musically speaking, I got to the scene in the kitchen with Matthew and Summer in the kitchen. The hint is laid out that the first song playing before she arrives home is “Tiny Dancer” by Tim McGraw, but I felt the Kenny Chesney song “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” fit Summer’s carefree personality better, and it also gave me the words to pepper her dialogue with as she begins to dance. I really like how this scene shifts from a physical scene to one that is about emotion when Matt reveals what had happened  between he and Ashley. Again, this scene seemed to shift on its own and not because I had mapped it out as such. My music references and the way music helped craft the story and its events in my head will become a little clearer with the next chapter hopefully. I personally do love music in a big way, but with chapter five we’ll see how it plays a little into the life of our narrator.

In finishing my notes on this chapter I have to admit this was the chapter in which I realized this would be a dialogue heavy story. I personally believe solid relationships are built on dialogue. In the beginning when i first met my wife we spent hours talking. about our life, the past, things we liked or didn’t like, and so if the old adage that a writer should write about what he knows is correct then I know this to be true: If you want to start a relationship of any kind you have to talk. Here the talk is first fun and flirty, then deep and serious. Not only does dialogue help unravel the story in this way it also allows us a peek into the character’s personalities, desires, and dreams. I hope you’ll join me for chapter five and see just how much there is to know about a person once you get characters interacting.

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