When to breathe

firefighter-383883_1280Like hot dusty air, it burned with each breath. It didn’t matter that the air was clean and cool…my scene had me choking, my eyes watering.

When to breathe? Writing my story (or rather, my story shoving me through a tube, squeezing me out at the other end with frantic key strokes) consumes me in much the same way the reader experiences it. It comes in short, breathless gasps at first but builds to a heart pounding frantic race. And just when you think your heart can’t take anymore, tragedy strikes…flesh is pierced, bad guys get a win, or someone you love dies. The grief is real. That sadness and despair that creeps up from your gut and constricts your chest, causing you to choke, tear up, or simply close your eyes for a moment of quiet–THAT is the story you want to hear and that is the story we want to write.

deployment-181736_1280Pacing is irrelevant. Timing is irrelevant. In fact, if there were a formula for pace, it would become predictable. If timing were perfect, then it wouldn’t feel real. Because, let’s face it, real life slaps you silly when you’re walking along smiling, then it slaps the shit out of you again when you are on the ground. That’s how real life plays out…that’s why we can’t predict it.

My muscles ache all the time, and I rarely leave my writing desk. The fights you read occur here, in my study, played out on the floor in front of my desk. Sometimes it’s such a brutal thing, I have to get up and leave the room. Still I can hear them, their grunts and punches like muffled machinery, sometimes accompanied by the sound of broken bones and the metallic clack of a suppressed weapon.

I know what it sounds like inside my head when neck bones break…the grating sometimes wakes me at night. I know what it feels like to have joints go in directions they weren’t meant to go. I limp when I walk, even when the pain is just a memory.

8527694163_8c371ed9be_kBut the good guys fight on. They push their limits each and every time because that is the personality type it takes to make a difference. Those are the sorts of men and women you want standing between you and the violence. These are the people who give us a clear and ringing model–the “better” us if/when we are faced with character stressing challenges.

Sentimental bullshit? You betcha…but I’m not ashamed to admit it shapes me. I’m not afraid to step forward boldly, letting “sentimental bullshit” infect my mind and emotions when there is a need. It’s what really separates us from the animals. When you step in and defend someone who you have no reason to defend, you are the quintessential human–you become the beacon that others then strive to be.

This is why we read…and this is why I write. Pacing is irrelevant. You breathe when you need a breath.

Hopefully, the above few paragraphs sucked you in and had you feeling tense before you realized it was happening. The exercise is more of a commentary on pacing, timing and unpredictable content than it is anything else. That’s the only point I had to make. 😉

S.L. Shelton is the author of an Amazon Bestselling Political Thriller Action Espionage Series, (The Scott Wolfe Series). Follow him on Twitter @SLSheltonAuthor or Facebook. He will love you for it. And if you like the posts, click like (likes, follows and reviews are the secret way to get authors to write more.)


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