The Writer’s Spidey Sense (#WritingWednesdays)

writing_wednesdaysThis blog is part of a series of Wednesday posts on Writing Resources. See next Wednesday for the value of False Starts in Writing.

In our beat-you-over-the-head technotronic age, CGI is going to be a big feature in any superhero flick. But as much I should complain about the complete over-soak of CGI that makes it look like reject footage from that disastrous film 2012, I have to admit that there are parts I like. In particular, I love how we get to see Peter Parker’s spidey senses in play. There are a few scenes where this plays out–most of them in the 3 minute trailers that give the best of the movie away. But here is one of my favourites, the Times Square scene:

Using cutting-edge technology borrowed from The Matrix, we can imagine how Spider-Man sees the what is coming at him. And what the Webslinger can process in his peripheral vision is coming at a completely different frame rate than you or I can handle. I first saw it in the teaser for the 2004 Spiderman 2, which was 10 or 20 Spider-Man films ago.

Writers too have a kind of spidey sense–at least some writers do. When we write a story it is more like a discovery than a creation. In the midst of our primary world of heartbeats and coffee grinders and telemarketers, we see a secondary world much like Spider-Man sees supervillainy on the warpath. It isn’t seeing, exactly, but a kind of sideways glance or peripheral vision. In our fictional universes we are able to respond with Spider-Man reflexes, moving with the narrative whether it is at the breakneck speed of heroes in action or the slow, ambling gait of lovers in an enchanted forest.

I wish I could say that this literary second sight worked in our primary world the same way. While writers might be undercover super heroes in a world that needs to learn how to defeat its many villains, as far as I know most of us would be crushed by the flying car in the cafe. Really, as writers, most of us would be leaning in to kiss a fictional girl-next-door Mary Jane (or aw-shucks Peter Parker), and all the world around us would disappear in that moment. No, most of us pretty much fail at dodging bullets beyond an agent’s rejection letter or tight spot in the plot.

But still, we need to be aware of our spidey senses as writers: That tingling feeling when an idea appears in our imagination. Our fear that if we look at it too directly it will either disappear or threaten to overwhelm us. The quiet discipline of controlling the moment as we set our bodies into the motions of world creation. The impossible mental feat of seeing the individual paths of a dozen characters in simultaneously in a universe that is still being made. And, not infrequently, the disturbing pain and regret we feel when one of our characters is lost in that unmade world.

As artists we have a lot to regret about our cultural fade into technology shortcuts in film–even if there is so much gained. But these moments remind us of our view as writers, and the tremendous power we have at our disposal. And with great power, comes…. Well, you get the idea.

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About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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7 Responses to The Writer’s Spidey Sense (#WritingWednesdays)

  1. Pingback: False Starts and Missteps: How C.S. Lewis Found his Literary Voice (#WritingWednesdays) | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  2. Pingback: On 2048, Or The Keep It In The Corner Approach to Writing (#WritingWednesdays) | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  3. jubilare says:

    Ah, I like the way you put this! If I may, I will Reblog it soon.

    Like

  4. Pingback: O Foolish Writer: The Living Reality of an Author’s Work #WritingWednesdays | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  5. jubilare says:

    Reblogged this on jubilare and commented:
    This is part of a series Brenton is posting (and there is a new fantastic one today!) I think that it is clear, in the reading, when a writer has trusted his or her instincts, followed where the story and the characters were leading. I could be wrong, because I am not in the heads of others, but I know the difference in my own writing between what comes and what is written to fill in the gaps, and I think I see the same pattern in others.

    Anyway, go forth and read!

    Like

  6. Pingback: The 7 Least Popular Posts (That I Still Think Were Pretty Good) | A Pilgrim in Narnia

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