The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

While driving today, I was thinking about the part of the dystopian I'm currently trying to work through, and feeling a little dissatisfied about it for the usual reasons.* So I went over it (again) in my head, just thinking about the scenes in that area (again) and I started digging into the fact that I haven't quite been able to end this one scene correctly. Right now the problem scene splits into several emotional points where it should end on one strong idea. Although I've tried to pull the points together to make one strong idea, they keep dissolving and fuzzing out into a weak scene ending.

There's a point at which you need to stop trying to force a ms, and instead see if there's something it's trying to tell you.

So I thought about the three or so points the scene makes, and realized that I could pull one out for later. Then as I went down the next part of the book in my head to see how it'd play out if that one point was removed, I could see that making this change actually has the potential to add something to later scenes and pump them up a little, as well as tightening and focusing the problem scene itself.

The change stems from thinking about the characters who are in the problem scene. Right now, two of them (A and B) have the same reaction to something my MC does. But my MC's reaction to each of their reactions is different--and I've been trying to get both of his reactions into the same scene.

With some deeper thought, I realized that I've been treating this like a crowd scene with Character A and Character B acting, thinking, and feeling in concert,** and not thinking deeply enough about who each is and how each is, from before that very first moment when the scene starts. If I do, I can see that Character B is probably not going to catch onto my MC's half-truths and misdirection quite as quickly as Character A. Character B is a lot more trusting, and a lot more inclined to take good news simply and at face value.

If B's natural instinct is to trust, then B's reaction to my MC's doings is delayed, and the problem scene will automatically focus on Character A's reaction--and I can therefore milk that emotional point and make it strongly.

So when does Character B finally realize what my MC intends? Turns out there's already a scene tailor-made for this, and it falls in very naturally with story events. I think I can even pry some of the dialog nearly straight up out of the problem scene and move it to later in the book. And now that I think about it, I may also be able to reinsert some dialog I liked but had to cut because it didn't fit in the problem scene.

And then the later scene should naturally lead to a big emotional point I'm thinking I need to make, a point that helps set up the MC's final choice*** at the end.

I took some time tonight to scrape the Character B reaction out of the problem scene. I made some notes about the other changes that will take place down the line. I just hope I don't lose them before I can apply them all--several outside projects are on my desk right now, and more are on the way.

*It bothers me that I'm around page 120 or so and yet I'm still only on Day 2 in the story, plus I just don't feel that my grip on these scenes is meeting the standard I've set for myself with this ms.

**Which I don't blame myself for, because there are four people in this scene, and it's bloody hard to keep writing scene after scene with three, four, five, six, seven, etc. etc. characters who are actively participating. It's HARD. Next time I try to write a book, maybe I'll know better than to let this happen.

***Whatever that may be. I still have no clue. I've got a whole file about what that final confrontation will need to do, but I haven't looked at it in a while.