Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Doctor Appointments Anyone?

This week and next pose several trips to doctor's offices for my family--me being the chauffeur. It made me think, since life is full of these mundane chores, why don't we see them as scenes in many novels?

Think about it, the tension is there, at least it is with my girls. With the exception of optometrist appointments, my girls stress endlessly over dental and family practitioner visits. Sitcoms do whole episodes on one visit to either of these lovely establishments, so the needed conflict and tension is definitely doable. So why don't we write these into our stories for authenticity of our characters being living, breathing creatures, and as a source of entertainment value as well?

I don't have the answers, I'm just wondering, as it seems to me it's been a very long time since I read such a scene, but I've certainly seen a lot of them on t.v. Just for the fun of it, I think I'm going to write one into my current w.i.p. and see just how entertaining I can make that loooooong waiting room scene with screaming babies, and old people nodding off with their heads bobbing, seeking a non-existent resting place, and youth fidgeting in those plastic-covered seats, and oh, don't forget the coughing, sputtering, blowing-their-nose clients only too happy to converse with you while you all crowd in the waiting room...waiting!

Just a thought, as my head feels as though it's about to explode on this chilly fall day.

What normally mundane living experience have you exaggerated beyond experience in your w.i.p. lately? Let's have fun sharing how we made them entertaining.



Surrendering to Him,

Eileen

27 comments:

Tabitha Bird said...

Hmmm... good question. Don't know that I have done this. I'll look forward to what other readers have to say.

Jody Hedlund said...

Great idea, Eileen! I think that a good writer can take the mundane and make it exciting! I don't like the mundane,however, when it doesn't serve a purpose within the story. I think that's the important thing we need to remember about every scene: how can we maximize the scene in moving forward our plots and making it count!

Tamika: said...

I don't think I have an ordinary day-to-day experince like a doctor's visit in my WIP. I'm like Jody if it isn't advancing my plot, I haven't gone in that direction.

That doesn't mean that I shouldn't use these experiences. I want my characters to as real as possible.

Great idea!

Diane said...

I guess anything could be made into a sitcom. I worked at a pizza place for 8 years and finally wrote down all the stories from that place. Awaiting the call... :O)

Natalie said...

I have a bit in my novel about door-to-door salespeople. My MC has a prepared speech that she gives to salespeople.

“Sorry we are vegetarians who would never think of killing bugs and have nothing worth stealing, our vacuum works fine, we just bought knives, and all of our charity money goes to Green Peace.”

I wish I could use it in real life. Door-to-door salesman drive me nuts.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Hey!

I once wrote an entire short story around my job, which at the time was dry cleaning. I put in some of the customers I disliked the most and made it a very "flannery 'o connor-esq" plot! :0) It was a very cathartic experience.

Susan R. Mills said...

I don't think I've done this. It sounds like a fun exercise, though. Maybe I'll give it a try.

Erica Vetsch said...

What a fun idea. You've sparked quite a few ideas for me with the proposal I'm writing, since one of the characters is in the medical field. I'll have to explore her thoughts on how nervous some patients get. :)

Bina said...

I found myself quite intrigued a few weeks back when waiting on a friend at a dr office. Across from me sat a couple that I couldn't keep my eyes off of...is a good idea to let that inspire you as you watch the people and make up the stories that drive them.
Have fun being Mommy Taxi. :)

christicorbett said...

Ooooooh what fun you could have with the variety of characters in a waiting room! The possiblities are endless...

*The panicked new mother trying desperately to shield her newborn from the sticky, probing fingers of three children who's mother is ignoring them to read a magazine.

*The old man waiting for news of recent tests.

*The bitter woman who glares at everyone, and launches into a full scale tantrum when notified the doctor is running late.

And so on...

Plus, you could tell the whole thing from the POV of a person who has nothing to do but people watch, so they sit in waiting rooms for fun!

Ok, I must confess here, I used to be the head writer for a TV show. But, I suspect if handled right the same could work in a novel :)

Happy Wednesday!
Christi

Ava Walker Jenkins said...

Great point you make about having our characters go through some everyday normalcies. Especially when they don't turn out so normal after all.

T. Anne said...

LOL, I've exagerrated my entire high school experience in my new YA series! It's technically a really long drawn out biography ;)

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

In my first novel two women were housewatching as a favor and they ended up eating the homemade bread. It proved to be a comical and controversial scene according to my readers.
~ Wendy

Patti said...

I think if you put in the mundane things, they need to be there for comic relief, like Wendy said.

Terri Tiffany said...

Going to the gym. So many of us do it but do you ever think about what you'd do with the weights etc. if you were stewing about something?

Amy De Trempe said...

Mundane? Hmmm. Dinner table arguments I suppose. My novels are historical so the doctor's office wouldn't work. I will have to give it some thought.

Gwen Stewart said...

I see your point, Eileen...but my blood pressure would increase just reading about the dr. office! ;) I have "white coat hypertension", and really dread the dr. office.

I do have some scenes in cars, elevators, etc. But I try to notch it up when I can and cut all extraneous dialogue, scenes, settings. Sometimes it leaves my writing sparse, though, and I have to add back in!

Ah, the precarious nature of writing. It's a mystery sometimes! :)

Katie Ganshert said...

I have a scene where a woman is standing beneath a willow tree, rolling her wedding ring around her finger. Pretty normal. Until she takes it off and whips it into the pond. And then dives in after it....definitely not normal.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

It's great fun to liven the mundane of life up in our stories, but I do totally agree that the scene needs purpose. I always strive for each scene to have at least two reasons for being in my stories. Maybe it's for character building and plot, or introducing a new character and setting to advance the plot. Whatever the reason, it's got to have a reason, and be entertaining at the same time!!

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

you're right. i can't remember the last book i read with a trip to the doctor scene. BUT i DO have in my book the MC driving to the hospital to pick up his mother from a doctor's appointment...and he learns about her problems in the waiting room. i think it's pretty good. :)

jeannie
The Character Therapist

Joanne said...

It seems like a trip to the doctor's office is a great canvas to show a character's nervous tics, worries, physical tension. It's amazing how the everyday can really serve as a tool in character development.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

As a historical writer, I also find my mundane is a little different!

In my most recent novel, I use a number of types of transportation. Lots of scenes in my most recent novel involve characters going somewhere, by carriage, boat, or wagon.

Need More Words said...

Funny that you wrote about this. I was sitting in our rental house last week while a new water heater was being installed and my mind wondered how I could use something about this episode in my book.
Diane

Stephanie Faris said...

Once in a romance author's workshop a published author said romance characters don't date. If your characters are dating you've taken a wrong turn. I thought that was odd because I've written books where the hero took the heroine to dinner...but I think the thing is that novels shouldn't mirror real life, where boy meets girl, boy calls girl up and asks for a date, boy takes girl out several times until they start to fall in love... I guess it's the same with everyday chores. We want an escape from all that...although certainly it could make for a funny scene, especially if heroine met the man of her dreams at that doctor's office...

quietspirit said...

Eileen:
I think going to the grocery store is so blah. I have to make out a list. Get my green bags sorted out. When I go to pay I think to myself: I hope hubby doesn't ask how much I spent.: One day he took me due to the weather. When I got in the car he guessed.
He was too high. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Catherine West said...

I haven't done this yet but I think my next book will have to feature construction of some kind, because I have a ton of stories to share. Of course I will have to change genres and start writing murder mysteries.

Georgiana said...

I'm right there with you! I'll yak if I have to take the kids to anymore appointments. Actually, we do have one more appointment at the doc. We've practically lived there the last 3 weeks.

Why DON'T we see more of these scenes?