hard scenes

For Day 27 of the 30-day Challenge: Are there any types of scene you find hard to read or write (action, love, death, etc.)?

Right now I’m finding most scenes hard to write. It’s like brain says “whut r werdz?” but when I’m working in a story, the hardest scenes to write are the ones where I often realize I’m trying to shoe-horn in actions or activities that do not fit the characters or really the plot/story to be told. Usually this means that I’ve planned to the market instead of to my own instincts or the characters’ demands in the story.

Yes, this is a form of writer’s block. So, when I’m blocked, I take the advice for any obstacles: there’s always a way around, under, over, or through it. If it truly is necessary and what I’m feeling the resistance from is the characters’ own reluctance to “face the music” as it were, then I choose “through” and write it, usually tearing myself up emotionally inside, but I do it, and the story is definitely better for it.

If it’s just a cute scene, no real purpose other than to please me (or leave something “sweet” for the characters or reader), I will often let the character make a different decision at the end of the previous scene and then write them going down that path. The author Jack Bickham broke down the structure of scenes in Scene and Structure from Writer’s Digest press and I’ve never forgotten the biggest lesson: there are always other ways forward, other choices a character can make, or can be forced to make by circumstances, that will raise the tension, deepen the stakes, or challenge them to really show who they are. These are perfectly valid things for a writer to do. It’s like dealing the character a poker hand and telling them they can’t throw away all 5 cards. Maximum they are allowed to discard is three. But then they gotta move forward with the betting to be able to see anyone else’s cards.

~ Lara

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