Literary Liaisons

A blog about writing and all things story…

Probe the Forbidden

Infusing story with moments that will resonate with readers long after they’ve finished the story is a conscious effort.  As I go through my rewrite I take what I call my ‘pillar scenes’ and make certain there’s one line that will stick with my reader; a line so rich that the image will linger in their minds forever. Well, until the next book they read anyway.
Maya Angelou wrote in one of her novels that I can’t recall and am too lazy to dig through an old box in my attic of old boxes to find, something akin to ‘like the dress on an easily had woman’ (Beloved?) this line stuck with me and made the scene come to life. She wrote another scene in her early (1970’s) novel SULA, wherein the loving mother had to kill her own son to stop him from doing more damage. I’ll never, ever forget that scene. It was breathtaking.
Then of course, there’s the iconic; Sophie’s Choice scene where Sophie is forced to choose. Or the scene in A Few Good Men (In case you need a refresher – where Nicholson says’ “You can’t handle the truth” this infamous bit of dialogue is brilliant, illuminating and challenging, not only in the scene but to the audience. It touches on our morals, our desires, our fears, our sense of what is just, what is acceptable and so much more. In this scene their carefully chosen words make us ask ourselves some very serious questions. Not the least of which is; do we care who’s on that wall and what they do to keep us safe? 

All these scenes dig deep into our psyche and probe some forbidden or unspeakable questions. So, when I look at my pillar scenes, I try to keep those that have stayed with me, in mind so I can emulate what those skilled authors did with their craft. All scenes can’t be profoundly amazing; if they were it would be too much. These kinds of scenes must be meticulously peppered through a manuscript. One great scene in a book can burn into a readers mind and make it forever memorable. What scene have you written that you think will resonate with readers? What makes it great? What scene in literature or a movie does it parallel? Be conscious of these things and infuse your writing with moments that add up to a great story experience. Make it unforgettable.

4 comments on “Probe the Forbidden

    January 3, 2012

    Sula and Beloved were very resonate works to me too. Thanks Mindy.

  2. Jack
    January 1, 2012

    Hi Mindy–I haven't thanked you for the work you're doing with the newspaper Lit-liaiz. So thank you. How can I get a copy of the article on Indie Publishing and Democracy of writing? That is a super piece.

  3. Mindy Halleck
    January 1, 2012

    What a nice thing to say. The truth is we're all on this journey and I believe that sharing what we learn along the way is what journeys are all about. Be well and have a fabulous new year. Mindy

  4. Stephen Hayes
    December 31, 2011

    Another great post. Your blog is making me a much better writer. Happy New year.

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on December 31, 2011 by in craft, fiction, forbidden, story moments.
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