I was in the beauty parlor, attempting to get beautified (or at least get a trim), when an elderly customer came in and plopped down for her weekly wash and set. “Michelle,” she said to her stylist, “When are you due, honey?”
My own stylist froze. I froze too. Oh, mercy!
Michelle said stiffly to her client, “Whatever do you mean, Mrs. Talmedge?”
“I mean the baby,” bellowed the older lady as she blundered on. “When is your baby due?”
My stylist was now busily brushing my hair and I was pretending not to listen in.
“I’m not having a baby, Mrs. Talmedge. Do I look like I am?”
The lady waved her hands around, finally aware of her error. “Of course not! No! Of course not. Erm—what a pretty dress you have on…”
I wasn’t there long enough to see if Mrs. Talmedge walked out of the salon with a Mohawk.
The whole problem happened when the lady jumped to conclusions and didn’t think things through before she spoke.
Which got me thinking—sometimes I plow ahead when I’m writing and don’t think things through, either.
And I end up in just about as much hot water. Well…except I don’t have to worry about revenge being enacted on my coiffure.
When I don’t think things through while writing:
The character acts out of character. If I’d listened carefully enough, I could have heard my protagonist yelling, “Nooooo! I wouldn’t ever do that!”
My storyline starts sounding a little pat. I haven’t dreamed up any curveballs to throw at the plot. Asking “what if?” helps a lot.
I write myself into plotholes I can see China through. (“Oh wait! No, Judy couldn’t have been Max’s killer! She was already dead by then, herself!”)
Although I’m a big fan of not overthinking the first draft (and I’m not an outliner), if I take special care to notice when these three, bad things are happening, I save myself a lot of grief during revisions.
How much time do you spend thinking it through before you put it on paper?