Yesterday was the first major uphill climb in my trek up novel mountain. Ran into a scene in my outline that was just crazy hard to write. I figured out the scene was boring by using some advice from the book 2,000 to 10,000 by Rachel Aaron.
What Aaron says is that if a scene is hard to write, it is most likely because it is boring. If it is boring to write, it will probably be boring to read. Obviously some scenes are hard just because they are really challenging, but I ran my scene through this analysis process and realized that the scene really was just boring. It was a super cool “what if” scene that is a central point of my story. The setting was perfect. But absolutely nothing happened in the scene. Nothing AT ALL. There was no character development, no antagonist development, pretty much no conflict whatsoever. Which is why I got so stuck writing it.
So to get myself unstuck, I followed some advice from Shawn Coyne and Tim Grahl’s Story Grid Podcast. What they talk about on the podcast is that the first 12 or so ideas that you come up with for how to twist a scene to be unexpected are most likely all things you have seen in other books or movies before and therefore aren’t as unexpected as you might want. So I wrote down a list of every way I could think of to turn the scene.
My scene is basically a grieving community of parents trying to cope with losing their loved ones to a disease. So I played with different roles in the scene. What if someone the protagonist already met in the story is there. Maybe out of a weird coincidence, the antagonist actually runs this community. Or maybe some person that helped her a few scenes ago is in her table group. Or maybe a few of the moms get in a fight. Or maybe zombies break in to interrupt the meeting. You get the idea.
So after I came up with a bunch of different scenarios, I went back to the scene. I still don’t think it is a great scene. But it is definitely better than it was. And more importantly, I made it through it.
Now, on to the next scene…