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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stuck in Scene?

Sometimes when writing a scene, we can't get out of our own way. If you're mired in a scene, try some of these ideas:

Write the scene from the POV of a secondary character. This will give you a whole new perspective.

Create dialogue using your non-dominant hand. Put a writing instrument in both hands and write dialogue that way. The dominant character speaks from the dominant hand; the subservient character from the non-dominant hand. Put a crayon in your non-dominant hand and become a child again.

Write your frustrated self a letter of congratulations from your more confident self, from someone you admire, or from one of your characters.

Write a journal entry from a character’s POV. It helps you get into the character's head.

Get up from the computer and walk around the block. Walk to the park. Walk alone and let your mind roam, too. As the blood moves through your body, new ideas will kick in and you'll have a breakthrough.

Draw the blueprint of the home where the POV character lives. Where does he/she sleep, keep secret documents, hide money, stash the diary?

Jot down all the things your POV character hates or fears and then add a couple of these things to the scene.

Change the scene’s setting. A different venue might help.

Add a narrow escape. Maybe things are getting too dull and predictable.

Delete the scene. If it can't be salvaged, dump it. Maybe it's not necessary. Perhaps it really doesn't move he story forward.

Add a new character in the scene. Sometimes someone new will add zest to the scene and the story.

Analyze the reason for the scene. Every scene, like every story, needs a beginning, middle, and end.

Is the scene to develop character or move the story forward?

Get up from your chair and act out the scene. Read the scene like a script.

Change the weather in the scene. A sudden bolt of lightning can draw attention, change the mood, or foreshadow something ominous. A good rainstorm can dampen or increase passion. A soaked protagonist must find temporary shelter somewhere. A flood can add danger. Sun breaking through dark clouds can change the mood and the scene.

Add dialogue to the scene, if there's only narration.

Put more action in the scene, if it's mostly dialogue.

Analyze the verbs. Are they active? Verbs make all the difference. Avoid the expected or trite verb.

Sprinkle in some more conflict. Every scene should have conflict, foreshadow conflict, or flash back to conflict. Conflict is story. Without conflict, there is no story.

Bring the scene to Saturday Mornings • Coffee & Critique for feedback!

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