Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Killing Darlings #2 The Nightmare

Here lies yet another of my writing darlings I've found necessary to cull in the latest revision of my book. 

It did serve a purpose, but the whole section no longer fits the rest of the book. Writing about a character's dreams shouldn't be completely taboo (I've read writer's advice which says otherwise, but anything goes if it works for the book you are writing as far as I'm concerned), but as things stand this little section and its surreal descriptions has to go.
I wrote this surreal nightmare scene fairly early on intending to show the main protagonist's doubt about pressure she was being put under to have some form of corrective surgery. At the time I wrote this there was to be a lot more dream imagery in the book, mostly because the story was being told from a point in the future (where the girl is dying and under the influence of drugs). As the first draft took shape, I pulled back from the idea and much of the dream experiences were transmuted into backstory, leaving this section stuck out on its own. It was also interesting to see that my style has changed a lot since writing this; I was trying a too hard to seem like a sophisticated writer, yet coming across sounding like a pretentious amateur. Over-description, alliteration and an excess of adverbs are some of the obvious issues.

The Nightmare
The unlit hospital corridors seem oddly familiar, from somewhere outside shafts of sodium street light enter through the infrequent windows casting muddy islands of illumination into the seas of darkness between. Melanie shuffles along hesitantly, one hand feeling for the guiding solidity of the wall. A further step and her uncertain fingers clutch at empty space and she stumbles forward into the hollow opening of an adjoining corridor.  Melanie's eyes strain to pierce the menacing blackness, a subtle dread clasping her insides with primitive fear. Sensing, rather than seeing them: spindly, angular and many limbed, attenuated metal insects exuding the ozone scent of stainless steel, dry joints squeaking as they reach for her with bladed claws. Melanie's fear only holds her fast for a heartbeat before giving way to flight. She runs, seeking escape through the maze of corridors, a breath behind, the skittering surgical creatures dance through the shadows on pointed feet. Ahead she sees a light. The bright outline of a doorway. Melanie throws herself through into a space of blinding illumination and in that moment of confusion she finds herself upon an operating table, her heavy limbs refusing to obey her, numbed by anaesthetic. Up above, looking down from a gallery, she can see the faces of people she knows: her Dad, Howard, Sue, Robbie, and Cynthia, their comments floating down into the echoing room.
"Yes, it's just a little procedure."
"She'll be a new person afterwards."
"Oh, she'll fit in then; she never did fit in."
"There's hardly any risk."
Around her the mechanical insects reach towards her, their pincers, blades and forceps glinting under the light.
"It's only a paper bag after all."

It is daytime now; golden sunshine shines down on beds of brightly coloured tulips outside the front of the hospital. A crowd of people stand around the front entrance clapping as Melanie is wheeled out wearing a bag, upon the bag is drawn a big smile. The specialist leans over and plucks off the bag with a flourish. The crowd cheer as the new Melanie is revealed, her face, neck, and head covered in Frankensteinian stitches, the corners of her mouth drawn downwards, like a clown, her eyes expressionless and vacant hollows.