So you wrote a scene. And it's a good scene. No, no, not a good scene. A GREAT scene. The characters sparkle with life. The dialogue scintillates! The imagery is a vision of beauty/terror/comfort/whatever. When you read this scene, this very scene that you wrote--you, my friend, the Great Writer of This Brilliance!--your pulse races, and you come to the end of it eager to turn to the next page, eager to discover what new thrills and chills await!
Well, that's a bit of a let-down.
Okay, that next scene might not be as good as the previous one. But that's to be expected, right? Pure genius is not a river flowing smoothly. There are bound to be boulders, rapids, whitewater, etc. So no worries! Push on through that bleh-scene, trusting in the strength of The Great Scene to see you through.
Hmmm. Well, that next one didn't work very well either, did it.
Not to worry. Keep on forging ahead! This is the writer's life. Who said it would be easy? (He did? Smack him one for me, will you?)
But still . . . wow. That next next scene didn't go so hot either, did it. I mean, it's okay though, right?
***You know this routine. If you're a writer, you've probably done it a dozen times or more. It's not always a scene though, is it? Sometimes it's a character. Sometimes it's an entire plot twist. Whatever it is, it's that little (sometimes HUGE) piece of the story that shone like true gold when it first came to you and fell from your fingers like the touch of Midas.
But maybe it isn't gold at all. Maybe it's fool's gold.
Maybe the reason all those scenes that follow aren't working, aren't building, aren't full of the energy you expected from this story . . . maybe it's because that one Great Scene is holding you back.
I have done this more times than I care to admit. It's far too easy, especially in the rough-drafting stage of a novel, to think that because a particular scene (character, plot twist) worked so well when I wrote it that it will continue to be the right direction for the story.
For example: In my most recent work-in-progress, I wrote an early scene between my heroine and the man she once loved but who did not love her in return. Okay, okay, spoiler . . . I wrote a scene about Lionheart's return to Southlands after the events in Moonblood, and his first encounter with Daylily since she broke off their engagement, told from Daylily's perspective.
I really loved this scene. It was heartbreaking and beautiful and all the things I wanted it to be.
Problem was, the deeper I got into the story, the more I realized that the beginning as a whole was not what it needed to be. I had started everything too soon. I needed to jump ahead by several months and start in a more exciting place.
But . . . doing this would mean cutting out that conversation between Lionheart and Daylily. There was no way, with this new arrangement of plot progression that they would even see each other, much less have time for a chat.
I resisted. Oh, yes, I sure did! I kept trying other rewrites, other scene arrangements, ignoring how awkward everything else was for the sake of keeping that one great scene intact.
I suppose the moral of this tidbit is, in a nutshell: Never Get Too Attached to Any One Piece of Your Story.
If that scene you love so much--that character--that plot twist--if it's holding back the rest of the story, it must go.
Funny, though I've experienced this with every single manuscript I have ever penned, it's a lesson I have to relearn each and every time!
What about you? Any pet-scenes or characters you're questioning?
“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”
This was most helpful. I think I have a few stories like that, but I didn't (and don't) want to let them go.
But now, after reading your post, I think that that has given me confidence in deleting them (although I'll probably keep and original copy and revised copy so that way I'll never REALLY part with it mwuhahahahahahaha!!)
Ooooh! Thank you for this one....I probably have a lot of "Great Scenes" in my story but then there are the not so great scenes :| But anyway! It takes plenty of work and practice :D So I probably should get to work! Lots of stuff are gonna need work and deleting... :P
Very helpful! Thank you! I'll have a lot of work to do fixing thing up now! :)
Oh gracious, yes! I have a story that needs total scrapping, but for the One Great Scene, I am clinging to the hope of rewriting it.
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