When was the last time you had a really truly terrible sucky day? One of those worst days, when everything went wrong and you felt defensive and angry and backed into a corner? Maybe you really were backed into a corner–by your best friend or by the driver who cut you off in the parking lot and then waved a single digit your way. Maybe the bad stuff lasted a few hours or a few minutes; either way, by the end you were ready to blow your stack and rant!
I’ve had my share of bad streaks and the rants that followed–often in the privacy of my car but sometimes in the company of a significant other. Unless you’re a bodhisattva–an enlightenment-being who skipped a ticket to nirvana in order to save the rest of us–you’ve probably had them, too. As a writer, I recognize the gold in my rants. I think of them as internal richter scales, indications of psychic turbulence. My rants give me clues to what’s bugging me, threatening me, eliciting my outrage. My rants give me clues to my world view. I’m not alone in believing each writer’s best material comes from her/his deepest obsessions and passions. Rants allow those obsessions and passions to surface, at least briefly.
I’ve taken to writing a rant for each major character in my fiction. The rant may remain unspoken throughout the course of the novel, or it may become a pivotal emotional scene. Some people rant externally, others keep their rants inside. Either way, you as author can channel your characters’ rants and you can sift through the clues for gold.
*Pay attention to your rants because they lead you to the core of your stories.
*Let your major characters rant and attend carefully.
*Be aware of the tendency of ranters to rant about what’s on the surface. Go deeper in your search for meaning. What is truly bugging you and your characters? This is a way of looking at text and subtext.
*Watch, listen to, and register what happens post-rant. After a catharsis comes vulnerability and deeper more elusive emotions may be revealed.
*Write a “rant” scene using your own experience with ranting. Reread the scene and consider the language of your rant. How do the words express or fail to express what was truly going on inside you? How do your words contrast with your physical actions and reactions?
*Write a “rant” scene for one of your characters. Place her at the beginning of her story. Now, write a second rant scene, this one occurring later in the narrative. Compare the two. What character growth or change is revealed when contrasting both rants?