Okay fellow writers, here’s a question for you all. How many of you find yourselves working and reworking a scene because something just isn’t right? In your mind, you know what you’d like to happen, but something just doesn’t seem to be working right. You make a change here, then a slight a tweek there and suddenly everything goes KAFLOOEY! You suddenly hit a dead end, or the entire plot has taken a detour to No-wheres-ville. When this happens to me, I get the same feelings I had whenever I tried to solve a Rubik’s Cube. I know all the parts and where I think they should go, but they’re just not in the right spot. And trying to get them in their proper place can be a nightmare some days.
Now this has happened to me on a number of occasions. Some people tell me to have an outline, but that never works for me. Why? Because my characters start going in other directions by saying or doing things I hadn’t originally planned. Admittedly I let them get away with it, but only if what they’re doing seems to be working better than what I originally planned. Sometimes this works, but not always. When it doesn’t I do one of two things: I’ll delete it completely and try again OR I’ll save the scene in a separate folder on my computer. You never know when an unused scene can be useful later in your present story, or could wind up being perfect for another book entirely.
Personally, I kind of like it when I can just delete the scene because then I get to point and laugh at my characters saying, “See? I told you this wasn’t going to work… NEENER-NEENER.” Unfortunately, I tend to do this out loud and get some really strange looks from anyone within a 30 foot radius. It’s at this point my unseen characters got to point and laugh right back at me, which is really annoying because they know I still need them and can’t kill them off. Damn, my creations can be annoying at times.
Anyway, getting back to my original point. Writing a scene can be quite frustrating and difficult at times. But, there are many ways of tackling this problem:
-You might change who’s in the scene, keep the ones who are most poignant and add someone else from the cast. This can change the tension levels and the entire feel of the moment.
-Change the location where the action is happening. Maybe the setting is the problem and you can get more out of a different location.
-Is a major piece of information about to be revealed in this scene? If so how much of it do you really have to unveil at this moment? Maybe you should only reveal a portion of the information. You can whet the appetite of both the characters and the audience with this method. By doing this your characters can go off half-cocked, which can make for some very interesting scenes as they make any number of mistakes or jump to wrong conclusions. I personally like this because the character who isn’t perfect, and learns from their mistakes, is someone the audience can really relate to sometimes. On the other hand the characters can aware that something is still missing and we can follow their efforts to learn more which can lead to some very tense and exciting scenes as well.
So, don’t be afraid to tear apart a scene that’s frustrating you. Try some really different ways of reworking it. And if you find yourself still hitting a wall, ask yourself if the scene is truly relevant in that particular point of the story. Maybe it can be replaced by an entirely different scene that can serve a similar purpose. Who knows, you may wind up with something that opens new avenues for your plot that are even more interesting than what you originally had in mind.
What other methods or tricks have you come up with? I’m sure everyone reading this would be interested because we’re all trying learn from one another when it comes to writing. So please leave your experiences and suggestions down in the comments section below.
And for the record,I did finally defeat the dreaded Rubik’s Cube. Mind you I did not remove the decals and change them around (which is something my wife did when she was kid). Nor did I take the cube apart and reassemble it so the colors matched up. What did I do? Simple, I spray painted the entire thing silver and used it for a paperweight. A very creative solution, don’t you think?