General · work in progress · Writing

Scenes and Little Details

I was rereading a scene in the WiP the other day and I noticed I didn’t include a lot of details about the setting. Just the street, towering buildings and little potted trees.

Okay, yeah, he was just walking down the street, so he wasn’t thinking about the crowds. That’s important, since the WiP is 1st person and crowds aren’t something he’s going to notice.

I know he’s weaving through the crowds, and avoiding the tourists who walk five in a row and take up the whole width of the sidewalk. But it’s not something I mentioned. And now, thinking about it, it could come off as though the sidewalk is empty.

The crowds aren’t important, just one of those little city-setting details.  The crowd plays no role at all; he is more involved with his own thoughts and how it feels more like December instead of October.

When I wrote that scene, I am pretty sure I was thinking most people would automatically picture a street crowded with people and cars. But maybe not. When we arrived in FL last year, the drive from the airport to the hotel was a little scary because it was dark and the highway was empty. Maybe one or two other cars in the distance. It was 8 on a Saturday night. That’s after dark, but not that late, especially on a weekend. And, in all honesty, I have never seen a highway that empty. It was nerve-wracking. But for people who live there, it would be normal.

So now I am wondering, should I mention the crowd? A line on the sounds or smells or feel of a crowded street?

work in progress · Writing

Car Rides and In Between Scene Travel

This week, my MC exited a club and went someplace else in a van. I am not sure how important the van trip is (not very!) but I went right along with him. I mean, traveling from point A to point B isn’t usually that important. Point A and Point B are important. Not unless something happens between them and I didn’t think anything was going to happen.

In the last version, I skipped this scene. Not because it didn’t happen, but because by the time it did, he was home with his lover. Now the lover is not there anymore, so he may as well stay for everything.

I pictured a windowless van, a silent MC, a few tied up prisoners.  At first I wasn’t even sure what the point of writing that scene was. I wasn’t sure if I should skip it or bring the girl along or what. There isn’t a lot they can say during the trip (what does anyone say in front people they just took captive?)

But than, I realized, they would probably be trying to frighten the prisoners. Joking and talking amongst themselves, teasing, scaring the bad people right out of their minds. 😉 As a side effect, I think it would also show how good friends they are.

So I found a couple of reasons to write the scene, and a way to make it interesting for me to write it, too. All scenes should be like this.


Throwing Away Half a Scene

I threw away half a scene yesterday.

It was an unexpected scene, one involving cops, that I’d thought would appear later. In my outline, the cops show up on the second day. But it makes sense for them to show up now – don’t cops show up after an explosion?

I was writing on and on and on and getting no where. I knew what I wanted to write, but that wasn’t what was showing up on my screen. I wanted something crispy, but instead I got two people arguing and getting no where. Finally, I realized that I needed to throw away the last 300 words. I replaced them with about 150 words. It was better. Faster, with the crispness I was looking for.

Why couldn’t I have realized that before I’d finished the damn thing? It felt like wasted effort.





work in progress · Writing

On Scene Breaks

I am done with the third scene! It would be a relief if I knew I really was done with it. That is, the next scene, the forth, takes place in the same spot. Only difference, someone else walks in. Is that enough? The setting is the same. It happens immediately afterward, so there is no break in time, either. So I am not sure if this is the right time to break to the next scene.

At first, I even thought it was the same scene. But two sentences in and it felt like a different scene, you know? Besides that, I was done with my short description i. e. She makes a potion and something goes wrong. But I am not sure. Is the mama dragon walking in enough to make it a different scene? That’s really the only difference – a character that hadn’t present been before.

There are also differences in how the MC feels, but that’s caused by the mama dragon coming inside like she does. For that matter, the spell’s disruption is her fault, too. So it comes down to the face that mama dragon wasn’t there before and is there now. Is it enough to make a new scene? I wish I knew.

work in progress · Writing

Bird by Bird: Plot Treatment

During yesterday’s perusal of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, on page 85 (yes, I own a dead tree copy of this book) the following line jumped out at me: “On the other hand, in lieu of a plot you may find that you have a sort of temporary destination, perhaps a scene that you envision as the climax.”

This has little to do with the short story WiP, but rather a lot more to do with the novel WiP.  I know something of its ending (bittersweet) and some of the scenes in the middle, the ones I saw in my head when this story first appeared in my head, those are clearer. This line from Bird by Bird is a minor epiphany, more like a reassurance of what I am already doing. Sometimes, during the bad days, I need reassurance that my storytelling instincts are not entirely off. I will just continue working my way toward the scenes I can see clearly and hopefully the end will come together more clearly at some point.