Tuesday, October 26, 2010
A Million Miles: Chapters 29-31
Okay, so there is such a thing as beating a dead horse. I think our little Donald Miller pony is breathing his last. It's been a fantastic discussion and I have loved your contributions, but I've been feeling for a while now that things are getting repetitive. I didn't notice that the first time I read the book...? Maybe I was so enthralled with the overall message that I missed the redundancy. Either way, I still believe it's an awesome book, and I'm so grateful that you've joined me in walking through it. Your insights have added immeasurable depth and wisdom to the ongoing conversation.
But we can't just stop. So here's what we're going to do. Today we'll discuss three more chapters just like we've always done, and then next Monday we'll finish the book in one fell swoop. I don't know how many chapters that gives us to finish, but if you're reading along, polish off the book for next Monday.
So, something fresh and new out of the book...
Chapter 30 is called Great Stories Have Memorable Scenes. Why yes they do. Right now I'm completely enmeshed in a story that has been brewing in my mind since I was a teenager. No joke. It's so exciting to finally be able to write this book! Anyway, one of the things that I'm actively working on is creating taut, unforgettable scenes. You know the ones, the sort of scene that keeps you up reading just one more chapter. And then, just one more.
Miller says: "I don't think memorable scenes help a story make sense. Other principles accomplish that. What memorable scenes do is punctuate the existing rise and fall of the narrative." I totally agree. The underlying action of my book will go on with or without the sorts of scenes that make my readers hold their breaths. But, oh, what would a book be without them? (Or a movie, a play... your life?)
I believe heart and soul that memorable scenes happen every day--it's just a matter of taking the time to acknowledge them. Sunday afternoon I took a long, hard walk all by myself. It was kind of dark and drizzly, and I was utterly alone on the walking trail. I could have been the last person in the world, and I felt exactly that way as I pounded out mile after mile. At first, I was so focused on putting one foot in front of the other that all I really noticed was the cement beneath my feet. But at the top of a little rise I stumbled a bit and slowed enough to notice my surroundings. I happened to be directly beneath a towering sugar maple, a brilliant conflagration of crimson and citron that quite literally glowed against a gunmetal sky. I hadn't been praying or even really thinking about much of anything, but all at once it was like I came face to face with God, and from behind his back he produced the most amazing bouquet. Just for me. I stood rooted to the spot, grinning and tearing up at the same time, and feeling like this was one of those precious moments when I was gifted with the ability to truly realize that God sings over me. Wow. I don't think I'll ever forget it.
Is that scene beneath a maple central to the unfolding of my personal narrative? No. But I wouldn't want to live a story without moments like that. And I don't want to write one without that either. So, here's my question for you: What is one of the most memorable scenes you've ever read/watched/experienced? What makes a scene unforgettable to you? Care to share? I'd love to hear what you have to say on this second-to-last discussion on A Million Miles in a Thousand Years!