On writing: have you scene this?

Posted by Annalisa Conti on August 31, 2016.

The scene is the core of my writing: an image forms in my mind, inspired by whatever captures my senses in a given moment, like a picture of reality.

Sometimes I see a person first, from afar, and my camera starts to zoom in, like in a movie scene. As I get closer, I can see the person is moving in the environment, then I see their face expression, the color of their eyes, the little scar they have on the back of their left hand, from that time when they tripped while running on the sidewalk, many years ago, and they hurt their hand to protect the favorite toy they were holding. Other times I have a panoramic view of a landscape, and as I step into it I can see pieces moving: a car is running on the highway, a plane is preparing for landing, but something seems to be wrong with its landing gear, and fire trucks assemble on the tarmac as the pilot tries a desperate maneuver.

All my works start with a scene, and a what if.

The genesis of ALL THE PEOPLE, my first novel, was slightly more complicated (Interested in a post with that whole story?), but I had the idea for its ending while staring at a very specific place in New York City. What if a person were there right now, I remember asking myself, how would he disappear behind the shadows of moonlight?

I wrote AFRICA with an entire movie in my mind, a succession of scenes and panoramas, with animals running free in the savannah and breath-taking sunrises over sand dunes. What if I added a broken heart failing to get healed, as the protagonist of the story?

The idea for THE W SERIES erupted in me from a very well-known popular image: the Batman standing on the rooftop of a skyscraper, his gaze lost in the lights of Gotham City by night, some martial but nostalgic soundtrack playing in the background. Then came my own camera work on the scene: what if Batman were a woman?

Superheroes are often powerful aliens or gods, or more-than-human men wearing armors of impressive technology; the few women have various descent, but one thing in common: they are usually very curvy and very sexy, to please the mostly male readership. This is a point that frequently stroke me since I was a kid: if both Superman and Wonder Woman are inhuman, why does he get to wear a (albeit tight) full body suit, while she is stuck in little more than a bikini? Why does she have to be so consistently depicted as a sexual object? Why can't she wear an armor, too? Why can't she be a real woman, one that has the same issues we all have, like going to work, paying the bills, feeling lonely in a big city like New York, and who wants to maintain her appearance of normality even if she happens to have superpowers?

Enter W, a superhero - not a superheroin - in a black armor that hides her female features and makes her look taller, more muscular, more ferocious against the evil she tries to protect New-Yorkers from.

Scenes are my seeds: small but powerful enough to grow a tree.