‘Stumbling along my foot strikes something.’ Writing the scene.

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

Don’t miss my weekly video blog to get info on writing, reading and more!

Today’s a big day; we write a scene.
Awkwardly, imperfectly, but a scene. Woot!

Here’s how:
Take a moment and go through your list of must-have scenes. A must-have scene, you might recall, is a scene you know your book has to have. (If you want a brief refresher on must-have scenes, review the vlog that aired May 23rd. Go on. I’ll wait.)
Ready? Okay. Go down your list…let your eye…your finger…your inner guidance system… help you easily settle on the most playful of scenes that you’ve jotted notes about.
It can be a serious scene—by playful, I mean the scene that’s going to be fun in this moment of time to write.
And let yourself sink into this world.

That’s right. Pen to page, keystroke to board. Badda bing.

You might have already done this a bazillion times, but if you haven’t, today’s the day.

And it’s never easy, by the way. What? You thought it would be? Always terrifying, exhilarating, illuminating.

It might be of some comfort to hear that James Joyce wrote, “Chance furnishes me with what I need. I am like a man who stumbles along; my foot strikes something. I bend over and it is exactly what I need.”

You’re going to do a lot of stumbling. That’s how you learn. About craft. About characters. About this particular scene.

So trust that you don’t have to know everything. That what you have already jotted down is a great starting place, and that the rest will come… as you go.

Stephen King talked about excavating an artifact, and that you want to do it carefully, not with a hammer and blowtorch, but delicately, knowing that even under the best of circumstances, you still might break off a nose as you pull the statue up.
I like to visualize when I write a first draft of a scene that the words are clay. And I’m picking them up and slamming them down and mushing them…manipulating them…and that I can always pick them up and slam them down again.
Whatever tool you use to calm yourself down…I would not recommend an artificial one, by the way—those will bite you every time, maybe not right away but always—take a moment and visualize the scene.

  • Do you see your main character?
  • What is she wearing?
  • What energy is he carrying around?
  • What was his night like last night?
  • Is there that chronic knot in the back of her neck that’s killing her?
  • What do his appointments look like today?
  • Is she pressed for time?
  • And what the heck does he want?
  • Who is in the scene stopping him?
  • And what is he going to do when he can’t get it?

Be brave.
Write the scene.
And I’ll see you next week.

Vlog Produced by: Pat Allen

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