Getting a scene down before it escapes me

Right now I’m reading a Dorothy L. Sayers mystery, Gaudy Night. I’ve never read any of The Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries before, and I’m enjoying it. It’s extremely well written and intricately plotted. I chose it because it takes place in Oxford, England, and I’m heading there in a couple of days. It’s actually the 13th in the series, I believe, but it was fine to start with this one because the main character is Wimsey’s love interest, Harriet Vane.

Harriet is a mystery writer. I don’t know enough about Dorothy Sayers to be sure, but I suspect that Harriet has a bit of Ms. Sayers in her. There are a couple of quotes in the book about writing that I love. One of them talks about getting an idea or a line out of your head onto paper. Here’s what she says:

In the meanwhile she had got her mood onto paper – and this is the release that all writers,even the feeblest, seek for as men seek for love; and, having found it, they doze off happily into dreams and trouble their hearts no further.

When I read this, I thought, “Exactly!” I have woken in the middle of the night several times with lines of dialogue or an idea for a scene running through my mind, and I have to get up and write it down before it escapes me and before I go back to sleep. But once I’ve written it, then I can easily drop back off to sleep without the lines still running through my head.

Getting my mood, or Jamie’s mood, or Pete’s, or Kevin’s, onto paper (even the electronic kind): that is the release that this feeble writer seeks. 🙂


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