Searching for a Scene


Today, I am searching for a scene. I am in the dreaded sagging middle of my WIP and know that I must keep the action very high. Every start I tried this morning included too much narrative, not enough action. In other words, I don’t yet have a scene.

But this unfocused writing is helping me find topics to talk about, giving me snippets that will probably be included in the eventual draft of the chapter.

In other word, I am exploring the territory and searching for a scene, for something that my characters can fight about, a conflict to anchor this section of the story.

I am approaching it several ways.

Free Write. I am just writing about the characters interacting to see what they want to talk about at this stage of the game. How do they butt heads. I’ve found several interesting minor conflicts, but not anything in particular.

Exploiting Character Traits. While searching for a scene, I am looking to my character’s traits to find areas of conflict. I deliberately set them up to have contrasts. One of the most promising contrasts is that B’s mother is a lawyer and ehe has had it drilled into her, “Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” But A has a big secret that his parent’s have forbidden him to talk about. This conflict is likely to be the one that will save the scene. I “found” this conflict by making lists of character traits and thinking about what this would mean in terms of A and B fighting about something. I am thinking, Conflict.

Sagging Middle. It is especially important in this chapter four to find a strong conflict because I am in danger of the dreaded sagging middle. The main plot of the story is set up and now we need to get about the business of solving it. Everything I wrote first, though, had too much narrative, not a scene.

If, instead, I put that same material in the context of a fight about telling the truth, the local conflict will hold the interest, while I get a lot of potentially boring things out of the way for the overall plot.

Not Afraid to Fail. In other words, I am not afraid to fail in this exploration of my story. My goal for today’s writing is not a polished chapter, but an exploration of a series of possible solutions. I might not find the perfect one today, but eliminating several is valuable. The right one will come along, if I just trust the process, if I fail three or five or fifteen times. It’s the process that matters.

Write a scene. When I finally get enough exploration done, I’ll go back and structure a real scene, concentrating then on dramatic structure and keeping the reader intrigued.

  • Tahmina
    March 19, 2012

    Thanks for the post Darcy. The ‘not afraid to fail’ message was just what I needed to hear today. All the best on your scene.

  • KimGreenAtlanta
    March 20, 2012

    Great post! It provides valuable insight. We all reach those stuck points. It is important to think about scenes vs. narration or exposition. I am curious about the plot/basic conflicts. Does the plot suggest what should be important enough to be a scene?