Climbing Stairs

Katrin, my current main character, needed to race up to the fourth floor.  I’ve run up flights of stairs any number of times, including the time that my daughter and I went on what we called the Chicago diet.  (Climb up and down the 2o flights of stairs to our hotel room and eat absolutely anything that we wanted.)  But I thought it would be helpful to know exactly what Katrin was feeling as she climbed the stairs.  I decided that I’d better climb six flights of stairs because Katrin lived in a building with high ceilings. 

I took the stairs two at a time for the first four flights, but then had to switch over to one had a time for the fifth and sixth flight. Because we only have one flight of stairs in our house, I did have to run down the stairs, too.  So I ran down the stairs and flung open the door to my study.  It rattled in satisfying way.  Then I spoke Katrin’s lines.

“This is–this is Dom Leandro,” I found myself gasping out.  In my rough draft, there was only one “This is” but it feels right to add in that breathless second line. 

I know that I’m not the only writer who does silly things like this in order to get a scene right.  In fact, I was lucky enough to go on a writers’ retreat with Kathleen Duey  as the writer-in-residence.  The stories about what she used to do to get a story right assured me that I wasn’t crazy to be doing things like climbing stairs or falling down in order to get a story right.  In fact, my son was an incredibly good sport last year when he let me tackle him about twenty times for my project set in Egypt. 

I discuss these techniques and other ones I’ve used in one of my school presentations: Action! Put Your Character into Motion.

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