Not as bad as it sounds. Just some times you have to act out your story as well as running it as a movie in your mind.
Much of writing happens in the head, or somewhere between the head and the keyboard. Of course. But there are times when getting up and acting things out can be very, very helpful. I have a number of action scenes in my books, and if I can perform them in my living room it makes the writing a lot more straightforward. It’s similar to how actors block out a scene in a play. What goes where? When?
Imagine someone aims a punch at your head. Now you might do a number of things, step out of the way, duck, block the punch. Now you’ve done that, what do you do next? Where do you hit them back? Can you grab something from the table behind you? Are you staggering? What happens if they get you on the ground? How are you going to fight back? You could work this out on the page, but often our bodies are much better at discovering these things than our minds are. It’s not just in fights either. Most of our physical actions are to some degree unconscious. If you bend down to help someone to their feet, where would your hands naturally place themselves? It often feels obvious, when thinking it through has been hard.
So sometimes I act things out, and this is where having Ned working at home can be very useful (as well as the supply of coffee and food). I’ve probably killed him four or five times now while re-writing Instruments, writing Anatomy of Murder and the third manuscript I’m working on at the moment. He’s been throttled and knifed, beaten up and smothered, and depending on whose perspective the scene is written from, sometimes he kills me. Only fair. We’ve helped each other up off the floor a few times too.
I hope I’ll never forget our first knife fight. He was in the kitchen getting dinner ready.
Me: Babe, if I’d just stabbed you in the stomach, then was distracted, do you think you could pull the knife out and drive it into my thigh?
Ned: Hang on, let’s try it. (He turns and starts rummaging in a kitchen drawer).
Me (in alarm): Not with a real knife!
Ned: (sighs) I’m using this, you monkey.
He shows me. A spatula. With love hearts on it.