Friday, 8 April 2011

Problem Scenes

I've been struggling with a scene recently.  Writing it was awful; I sighed and huffed and puffed and thought about other careers I could do and was it too late to train as a brain surgeon or something.  In the end I followed my own advice and jumped to the next scene.

Oh, what a difference.  Suddenly the little birds sang in the trees and the sun shone through the window and my fingers flew across the keyboard.  Writing was easy!  Writing was the best job in the world!  Yippee!

Afterwards I thought about it.  Why had there been such a difference?  

My problem was, there wasn't a problem.  By which I mean, the viewpoint character didn't have a problem to solve.  Scenes normally flow between action and reaction scenes, and this was a reaction scene, but there was nothing else.  All the viewpoint character was doing was thinking about what had happened in the past.  There was nothing that moved the scene on.  

So, what should I have added?  The magic word here is change.  Something had to change.  It doesn't have to be big.  The character could have been given a piece of information and had to change as a result - whether it was her global world view or what she was doing on Saturday night was irrelevant.  Without change we don't move forwards, and writing is about moving forwards.  

NEW!!! I've finally got round to organising some course dates....
How to WRITE a Novel: London 3rd May/Birmingham 7th May/
Exeter 21st May
How to SELL a Novel: London 24th May/Exeter 4th June/


Jim Murdoch said...

If she was thinking about what had happened isn't what changes is her perspective? She might start off thinking that someone is bad and by the end of her ruminations have realised that he might have had just cause for what he did.

Sarah Duncan said...

That's what could have changed but, sadly, when writing it didn't - I'd have saved myself lots of angst.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou. This has been a massive help to get through one of my scenes. Liz x

Sarah Duncan said...

That's great to hear, Liz. Good luck with the writing.