Writing the Scene You’ve Been Avoiding
We all have it: that scene the plot is going to demand, or the one that history requires, or the one that really will push your hero to a new place. Sometimes, it’s fun and exciting, the scene we’ve been waiting to get to, that’s been simmering in our brains all along as we work our way toward it.
And, sometimes, it’s not so fun. Sometimes, it’s stressful.
Maybe it’s a romance scene, and you’re not so comfortable putting that stuff on the page. Maybe it’s an anger scene, and it pushed the buttons on your own emotions and self-control. Maybe it targets something from your childhood, maybe even something that’s the reason you’re writing this book–but that doesn’t make it easy. And maybe it’s a matter of putting your character in a place she needs to be, but a place that you, yourself, would never go.
What do you do?
I’m facing one of those scenes this week. For me, it’s one of the ones that history–the history I’m writing about–is making me write. I’ve known all along that I would probably be writing this scene, but I’ve pushed it away. I didn’t touch it during the first draft. It’s actually an okay situation for my hero, who she is, to be in; it is not a situation I would ever choose for myself. It’s a situation different people in my life have told me I perhaps SHOULD have chosen, or be choosing, so there’s a bit of resentment and resistance to add to the complication. The scene has been in the back of my mind, not ever letting itself be completely ignored, pretty much waiting till I got to the point to say, “Fine. Okay. You’re in.”
Or to the point where the story said…”Here.”
I’ve written up to the point where the scene needs to be included. It’s the right time, I think, for my hero to participate. Does that make it easier? Well, actually, yes. Because now the scene has a plot and character purpose; it’s going to do more than just layer in an element of history. And waiting until I got to this point, until the story caught up with the idea, has given me (I think!) a way in. I can see what the scene will do for my character, and how it will complicate her life, instead of mine. I can see her attitude about things, which–yes, has a piece of my attitude, but is most importantly going to be true to her. I think. Waiting…and writing until I was ready, has given me time to get to know my hero and to at least find a point where I can understand and empathize with what she’ll be feeling. And how she’ll be acting.
A point where it won’t be all about me. 🙂
So if you’ve got one of those scenes looming, even in the distance, try not to fret too much. Don’t force yourself to drop it in somewhere just because you know it’s necessary, and don’t spend too much time arguing with yourself about whether to include it at all. Let it sit out there for a while. At some point, I believe, your scene and your story will intersect.
And that’s the time to write it.