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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Scenes that are interesting and excite you

   
Author Topic: Scenes that are interesting and excite you
Crotalus@work
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I've read in a few places here the advice to 'write the scenes that excite you' to get past a dry patch or whatnot. Maybe it's just me but doesn't it stand to reason that if a scene is boring to the writer when it comes out won't it also be boring to the reader?

I mean, I try to make it so all my scenes are exciting. If I'm writing something that bores me I just quit and rethink the scene. Maybe I need to change the POV character, or have something different happen. Even a scene that joins one major event to another should be interesting in its own right, right?

I'm not saying the writing will always be easy. Often it's not, but usually that's because something about the scene isn't working. Either that or I'm mentally tired with the whole piece.

All that to ask this question. What techniques can a writer use to ensure that every scene is interesting?


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mikemunsil
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it would be nice if every scene were interesting, but i'm not sure that's possible.

work instead on making every scene necessary.


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sojoyful
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Amen.

Necessary is always necessary; interesting is almost always necessary, but you can get away with uninteresting if it's necessary.

How's that for a sentence!


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MG
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'Necessary is always necessary; interesting is almost always necessary, but you can get away with uninteresting if it's necessary'.

Try to say that three times in a row with an ice cube in your mouth!

Crotalus, I think you might be talking about 'candy scenes', the ones you're just itching to write as opposed to those you just...like. I've read articles like that as well. In the article I read, it wasn't that the other scenes were a drag, it was exactly like you said: something about one scene isn't working so you need to move on. Or you haven't found the right angle yet. This happens to me alot.

All that, if you were talking about candy scenes.

About scenes in general, yes, I agree with mikemunsil, every scene should be necessary.

But, I believe that if a scene bores you, if it doesn't interest you at all, if what your characters are doing is necessary but not interesting, the reader will notice.

When I write, *every* scene needs to be interest to me in some way or another. If in scene 4 I need X to talk to C becasue Scene 6 requires it and I'm not very exited about it, I think of ways of making the encounter unique. I make myself interested by adding stuff, thinking of places they could have that talk...

To sum up, first see that every scene is necessary; second, see that every necessary scene is interesting.

MG


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tchernabyelo
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All scenes should have some merit; they should not be turgid and dull.

But one can be in a very different mindset to write action sequences, descriptive sequences, dialogue sequences. Write what you're in the mood to write and assemble (with an edit for continuity, if needs be) later.

Sometimes linking scenes have to be put in (the "necessary" stuff; if so then yes, it can be a hard slog to make them seem interesting. If you really can't, consider dropping the scene and doing chapter breaks, which will allow the reader the latitude to accept that time and/or space have changed/moved on.

(Edited for tpying misteaks...)

[This message has been edited by tchernabyelo (edited November 22, 2005).]


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AndrewR
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Remember to focus on what can be lost in each scene, and how the character is fighting to keep from losing it. Then each scene becomes interesting and important! (This is a favorite trick of soap opera writers.)
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KatFeete
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What techniques can a writer use to ensure that every scene is interesting?

Make sure that more than one thing is happening. Except in the endgame (where my writing becomes more linear and there's more candy bar scenes anyway) I try to make sure that I'm not just moving the primary plot forward, I'm adding to this subplot and laying the groundwork for that conflict and giving the reader a glimpse of this bit of cool technology. If a scene starts feeling dull or contrived as I write it, I switch and talk about something else for a while. I can always fix it on the revision.

Similarly, I try to vary the content. No scene should be all description or all action or all dialogue. If a scene starts feeling dull, that's often the problem: I've been letting my characters introspect or talk or whatever for too long. Time to change the pace.

And finally, if a scene is really boring me - if I feel as if I'm writing it just to get from point A to point B - then I stop writing it. I either tie it off at the next convienient point or delete it entirely. Chances are that if I'm bored a reader would be too, and chances are also that I don't need that transition nearly as much as I thought. Sometimes I'm wrong and have to go back and splice the transition into other scenes, but all too frequently writer's block or a scene that feels dull is my subconscious going, "We don't need this. It's only messing up the timing and making us yawn. Go write the next bit. Trust me, it'll be better for us both."

My subconscious is lazy but frequently right.


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Monolith
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Ok, I've an additional question to ask along the lines of this topic.

Does each and every scene have to have action or can they be an emotional scene?

I'm just wondering about labeling a scene as well.

-Monolith-


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wbriggs
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I think it can be w/ internal action.

I would disagree about going for necessary versus interesting; I go for necessary and interesting. If it's necessary, but not interesting, I'd just summarize it. "Jane search for hours for traces of the evil robot monkeys, but to no avail."

I have found myself writing scenes that weren't interesting to me, but needful; so I cut them. To advantage.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Clarification point:

When I have encouraged writers to write the scenes that excite them, I am trying to say that they should write the parts that are strongest and most interesting to them at the time--the ones that are ready to be written.

Such scenes are not necessarily the scenes that come after the scene the writer just finished writing. They can be before or after that scene.

My point is that you do not have to write the scenes of a story in the order in which you intend to have the reader read them. You can write them in any order you like if it helps you get them down on paper.

If the ending is clearer and more ready to be written than the beginning, go ahead and write the ending. Don't wait until you get to the ending after slogging through stuff that isn't ready to be written. You run the risk of losing the clarity and readiness (and your own excitement about writing the ending) if you wait until you get to it.

Yes, the ideal is for the writer to be excited about all the scenes in a story, but your muse doesn't always give you stuff in a linear fashion. Your first draft can be all over the place if that's what works.

The important thing is to get it down on paper so you have something to work with in the rewrites. You can sort out the order of the scenes for the reader then.


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rcorporon
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Bump. This is one of the most informative threads I've seen here! Lots of great stuff!
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Robert Nowall
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Well, you run the risk of having one or two scenes in a story that excite you...but there's a lot of scutwork involved in linking them all together.

I suppose, too, it's more of a problem in a novel---a short story will have, well, maybe a dozen scenes in a dense-packed five thousand words, probably a lot less in most. (I think my last finished story, about that length, had four separate scenes---all in the same place.)

Some of my failed novels have interesting scenes I've written in my head---but they're so far away from the beginning that I never got to them. I generally start out at the beginning and work my way forward to the scenes that interest me. I can think of only one story I sat down and wrote from the middle out (and, I've got to say, doing it on a computer word processor made it a lot easier than I thought it would be---certainly a lot easier than doing it on a typewriter.)

Still, there's no one set way to do it. "Gone With the Wind," I've heard, was written from the ending back---Mitchell wrote the scene right after Scarlett and Rhett busted up, and wrote everything else to get to that point. "The Lord of the Rings" was written front to back in numerous drafts---with some fast forwards to rush ahead or jumps back to insert new thoughts and details as they occurred to Tolkien. Both grip the reader and keep him turning pages. Who's to say which is right and which is wrong?


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Elan
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quote:
Does each and every scene have to have action or can they be an emotional scene?

Keep in mind, Monolith, that not everyone thinks the action scenes are automatically more interesting than emotional scenes. In fact, I am of the opinion that if you aren't getting a feel for the emotion of the MC, even IN action scenes, it leaves the scene feeling flat.


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