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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cloudy with a Chance of Karen Carpenter


This morning I loaded my kids into our mini-van and began our Thanksgiving vacation. Our Destination: Grandma's house. It was snowing in Cache Valley when we left and the clouds followed us until we pulled into my parent's driveway.

I am normally a stormy weather girl, but today, it pushed my limits. I needed sunshine and was met with gloom. It just so happened that the only music available to me during this short road trip was Karen Carpenter. Normally, I have a limit to the ooo's and aahhhh's and la la la's that I can take. But not so today. Her voice was like balm to my soul. I hit repeat on "On top of the world" at least seven times. I'm not kidding.

Why this sudden change? I mean, I like Karen Carpenter, I do, but I usually avoid the songs like, "Sing, sing a song" and the other campfire, folksy-type songs and move right to her deep, darker melodies. Today, however, I drank them in and by the time our three hour drive concluded, I figured out why.

It's my WIP. This book that I'm writing for NaNo, is depressing. It's heavy. It's number two in a series of three. I start out with drama and crisis and I end with drama and only slightly less crisis. It's dark (which I like, but I'm in serious danger of overdosing)and it's loaded with stress, heart ache and hopeless situations.

Can I just throw this question out to those of you in our friendly blog-0-sphere: How do you keep a dark, heavy book doable? Likable? Readable? I have a good light-hearted character in there, as well as a bit of humor where I can squeeze it in, but I'm being honest when I say that I could have driven around the block four more times just to here Karen sing, "Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eye and I, won't be surprised if it's a dream. (all together now) I'm on the, top of the world, looking down on creation and the only explanation I have found; is the love that I've found ever since you've been around, your love's put me at the top of the World!" I was aching for sunshine and love and happiness and birds singing in the air. My WIP is bringing me down, folks, and I'm afraid it just might sink the ship. :(

For a brief moment, I was on top of the world; I just don't know if I can transfer the Karen Carpenter warm fuzzies to my characters. What do you do to lighten it-up, propel the story forward, and bring a welcome ray of sunshine without spoiling the good, creepy, heart-wrenching darkness? Am I making any sense?

--Sara Bulla

Happy Thanksgiving!

8 comments:

Melissa Sarno said...

Oh my gosh Sara, I'm obsessed with that song. I'll admit it's a little weird. And I'll even admit I sang it once at karaoke. Anyway, I wish I had some advice for you. Sometimes I think the most heartbreaking moments are the kind where something rare and wonderful is happening amidst all the bad. Maybe there is a good moment in your story that is a little bittersweet. I don't know. Good luck!

Angela Cothran said...

First can I say how creepy that picture is--totally creepy.

I don't know if I'm an expert on dark, but I do have some pretty dark things in my book. I think you lighten it just like you would lighten it in real life. If dark things were happening all around you, you must look at the good. Give your characters hope, something to be positive, something beautiful. It is all about balancing the dark with the light.

Cassie Mae said...

Dark stories are some of my favorites. Not because I'm a psycho or anything, lol, but I feel like they are so emotionally stimulating. Just like romance can make you want to find your hubby as soon as your done with the book, or how humor can make you bark out laughing in a quiet library, dark stories make me think and really feel for the characters. How can they suffer through everything and still be true to themselves? How does it not change them?

I admire authors who can write these stories. To purge themselves in a world that seems so hopeless, and still create loving characters and shocking drama. Even though it's hard, and can bring you down, think of what you are providing for your potential audience. Something very thought provoking. If it gets you down, take a break...read/write something else, then dive back in when you feel you're ready. :)

E.R. King said...

I think humor and irony helps. I especially enjoy it when my characters say something sarcastic or act silly. Of course, this has to fit the scene. If it doesn't, maybe you should think about the mood of your book and your plot line. The two are closely connected. If it's dark, why? What makes it dark? Are you feeling it more than your reader, or will your reader leaved depressed, too? What is he overall feeling you want your reader to walk away with and remember about your book? These are all questions writers ask themselves, and perhaps you'll find comfort in outlining book three and getting some closure.

Mel Fowler said...

Karen Carpenter reminds me of my mom.

ps Sarah I'm from cache valley too...

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I tend to write sad and dark, too. I always try to make sure there's at least one character with a sense of humor and also a few lighter scenes. And hope. Always hope.

For myself, when I find I want to crawl under my desk and never come out, I go flip through a magazine, watch a funny TV show or movie, or get outside for a bit. :)

Jolene Perry said...

PERFECT sense.

I think about a few books that I've written that are a bit dark, and I can't really answer your question. It's a hard balance.

Kim said...

Best blog post title ever. Hands down.
Did you see room 1408? Because a Karen Carpenter song was on that movie, and it was kind of creepy...
As for your question, I am completely useless, but I understand what you're saying. Just keep listening to Karen and the answers will come to you :)

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