Tuesday, June 28, 2016

CAN A BROKEN CHARACTER STILL OFFER HUMOR? WHY NOT?





by Diann Adamson

                                        From:    Suppose, Lillian Dove Series

                I forced my eyes open. My hands were tied behind my back, my legs restrained. The room whirled like a beat up, wobbly merry-go-round.
I rolled onto my side and vomited. The tang and gag of alcohol and bile sickened me.
            I was in a small barn. The air held a hint of manure. Sacks were piled against the wall across from me. A wheelbarrow. A rake. Pitchfork. Bucket.
Where was I?
I shut my eyes to steady my swirling. It was cold. I was freezing. No, I was drunk. Hung over. I knew the chill.
I saw a slippery slope of failure in my future.
I was drunk, ruined, but alive. Was there hope?
An insight occurred to me. Of course, I was alive. Thompson couldn’t kill me. Cole told him not to until I told him where the memory card was, and I couldn’t have told him because I had no idea what Kenny had done with it.
Or had I? Did I make something up to get him to stop? When had he stopped? No memory of that. Nor any memory how I’d gotten here.
Another insight. If I’d lied in my drunken state, Cole wasn’t a fool. He’d check out anything I’d said. I’d bet on it.
Get your wits about you, Lillian. Sober up.
First, how long had I been passed out? Hadn’t someone said Cole was going to ship out product at midnight. Was it Thompson who’d said it? Stone? Kelly? Did it matter who had said it? What time was it? If Cole didn’t find the memory card, would he have me killed? If he did find it, would he kill me anyway?
I didn’t want to hang around to find out.
The shed was dim. I lifted up as high as I could to get a better advantage. A lack of trained stomach muscles and another round of retching slumped me back onto my side.
 I landed in what I’d already vomited.
I needed to move. If for no other reason than to have a clean empty space for another stomach attack. Wiggling got me nowhere but dizzier. I took a deep breath. My nose stung and felt swollen. My throat burned.
 I pushed my shoes against the floorboard for traction, allowing me to move without too much wobble in a quarter circle turn. I could see shelves of garden products: weed killer, fertilizer, smaller tools for hand digging, colored jars. A garden shed. Not a barn. I was outside someone’s home. Maybe somewhere with other houses close by.
 I made another quarter turn. It was about all the farther I could go before another wretch of alcohol discharged. The wall I looked on now held ropes, chains. And beneath those, a riding lawn mower.
A sharp pain zinged me. It was so intense, my legs drew up without needing command. And then…oh, no. A horrible odor pillowed. I was going to be sick from both ends! The smell was disgusting.  Nauseated, I gagged. Retched.
Oh, no!

     Let’s start with the premise that we are all broken, in some way.  Being damaged is the major theme for all the Lillian Dove series.  Yet, while she may be a little more broken than others, there is also the awareness that we all have our problems, addictions, habits, compulsions. 

Addictions: certain foods, soda, shopping.  

Compulsions: like buying another book when we have a shelf-load.

Not to worry, I’ll get to all of the books I buy. And if I don’t, I like the feeling of a room full of books. Some like people like antique furniture, plants, dvds, I like books. We all have a “thing.”

In the scene sampling above, Lillian has had something so tragic happen to her she wonders if she will survive with her sanity intact. Take that level of tragedy and then place her in a shed tied up, vomiting, and--an onset of diarrhea. Suddenly the tone lightens. Diarrhea?  Funny? Yes, it can be funny. Embarrassingly funny. Add  more? Why not? Add to that situation someone else being thrown in the shed with her, double funny. So much is at play….suspense, danger, and a human weakness when having uncontrollable bowels.

As a writer, I need to place my protagonist in the worst possible scenario, then bring her to a point of fighting back.  Lillian  responds to a challenge because if she doesn’t, she will never move forward. Sometimes she reacts from anger. Other times she counters out of stubbornness. Then again, she has wrangled for those who couldn’t or because it was the right thing to do.  
This scene is another means of showing Lillian’s strength of conviction. It also inables double the suspense and double the fun. Double the tragedy, double the embarrassment. Double the victory if survived.

For me, when writing this scene, I wanted something real; something which could happen to any of us in this same situation and would instigate more defiance. No matter what is happening to her body, no matter the embarrassment, or the discomfort for the other person with her, she still needs to escape.

Nothing happens to me without doubling the challenge.

If a story is a thriller, horror, or highly suspenseful, a tidbit of humanness can offer a reader a way to giggle, breathe, digest what has happened, or see themselves more clearly in the situation. My mother always claimed when it rains it usually pours. I’ve found that to be true in most of my life-challenging events.

     Amazon: Suppose




Bio:

   D. J. Adamson is the author of the Lillian Dove Mystery series and the Deviation science fiction-suspense trilogy.  Suppose, the second in the Lillian series has just been released.  She also teaches writing and literature at Los Angeles colleges. And to keep busy when she is not writing or teaching, she is the Membership Director of the Los Angeles Sisters in Crime, Vice President of Central Coast Sisters in Crime and an active member of the Southern California Mystery Writers. Her books can be found and purchased in bookstores and on Amazon. To find her, her blog L’Artiste, or her newsletter that interviews and reviews authors go to http://www.djadamson.com. Make friends with her on Facebook or Goodreads.

2 comments:

D. J. Adamson Author said...

I want to thank you and your readers for having me, Marilyn. As you know, I love to talk about craft.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Welcome to my blog, Diann. And I love to hear and read what you've written.