It was back to the basics this week while editing. I had a scene that just didn’t seem right, no matter how I changed it up, and I could not put my finger on what was wrong with it. And structurally, it wasn’t a scene I could cut. So I hit the books—or more accurately, the internet.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you’re ever in need of writing advice or just looking to study up a bit on the subject, you should check out helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com. K.M. Weiland has literally written the book on story structure.
After I did my studying, trying to figure out what I had overlooked, I realized the reason I couldn’t fix the problem in the trouble scene was because the problem wasn’t in the scene itself. The problem was the later scene this trouble spot was supposed to be setting up. Between the time I wrote the trouble scene and the time I wrote the later scene, the emotional stakes of this particular subplot had changed, so the setup was out of balance. In order to fix what was wrong in that scene, I had to figure out how to change it to reflect what had already changed in the later scene.
Once I knew that, the rewrite got a lot easier. I had something specific to fix, as opposed to something flat and awkward that I couldn’t get rid of.
So, lessons learned this week:
- Pay attention to how scenes connect. Whether it’s chronologically, thematically, or structurally, make sure they’re doing ALL of their jobs!
- The problem you have is not necessarily the problem you think you have. Don’t get tunnel vision.
- Big story moments must be earned, don’t pander. (That’s unrelated to the example above, I’m just feeling a bit cheated by the t.v. show I’m watching right now).