Greetings ladies and gentlemen. Today, I am honored to have a guest post from author, B.A. Chepaitis. Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions.
My readers often ask me how I write something like the Death Walk scene in my novel, The Fear of God, second in a series of novels about characters who are empaths, telepaths, and more.
In the Death Walk scene my protagonist, Jaguar Addams, and her friend, Alex Dzarny, have to put a demented cult leader in telepathic contact with the mind of a dying person in order to heal her. It’s a tricky move, because it’s easy to get caught up in the death and end up dead yourself, so Jaguar and Alex had their work cut out for them.
As a writer the more tricky part was knowing what that might feel like, then using language to create the feeling for others. The space is soft, yet filled with danger, slippery as black ice under your feet, thick as fog on a moonless night. And, I’ll admit, it was a blast to write.
Quite honestly, I was prepared for that kind of writing mostly through dance , music, and meditation classes rather than writing class. These helped me grasp and translate the physical components I had to translate to words. Because of that, when I’m teaching writing, I incorporate movement, music and more to help my students face equally tricky writing tasks.
In case you’re facing a tricky writing task, here’s the exercise that helped me most in creating Jaguar’s Death Walk – one I make my writing students do: Dance blindfolded.
That’s right. Put on some music, then put on a blindfold, and dance.
In my classes, half the students dance and the other half watch, then switch over so the dancers watch and the watchers dance. That gives everyone a chance to witness as well as participate.
Nonwriters might ask what that has to do with writing, but writers with any chops will immediately recognize that dancing blindfolded is almost exactly the same as writing itself, a physical enactment of the mental stance necessary to write. Both require a willing relinquishment of ego, and a willing acceptance of the possibility that you’ll look a fool. Both require a delicate balance between knowing and unknowing in unfamiliar territory. Both make it necessary to deal with the unexpected. And both ask you to inhabit a different consciousness than normal, something you do regularly when you write.
When I’m writing Jaguar’s world, I have to occupy a different kind of mind altogether. Exercises such as dancing blindfolded, or something as simple as moving very slowly, physically shifts my understanding of how we perceive the world. That then helps me describe what it’s like to be a telepath, or someone who can do a Death Walk.
So if you want to write, I heartily recommend that first you dance. In the dark. Blindfolded. With only your skin to tell you where to go.
BIO: Barbara Chepaitis is the author of 8 published books, including The Fear Principle and The Fear of God featuring Jaguar Addams (Wildside Press), and the critically acclaimed mainstream novels, Feeding Christine and These Dreams. Her first nonfiction book, Feathers of Hope, is about Berkshire Bird Paradise and the human connection with birds. She’s writing a sequel which tells the story of helping our US Troops in Afghanistan rescue Eagle Mitch. Barbara is founder of the storytelling trio The Snickering Witches, and faculty coordinator for the fiction component of Western Colorado’s MFA program in creative writing.
Barbara’s website: http://www.wildreads.com
Barbara on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=615302442
Jaguar on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jaguar-Addams-and-the-Fear-Series/135879429815445