Unless, you’ve used those snappy lines to avoid writing a key scene. I do this. In every single manuscript. Every single time I write a manuscript. Why? Key scenes are hard to write, especially when the characters brim with emotion, passion, and tension.
Today I reached one of those unwritten key scenes. So, I put some towels in the dryer, soaked a few dishes, read a few blog entries, pulled chunks of hair off my shedding dog… And then I turned off the Internet, poured another cup of coffee, turned my music on loud, danced around a bit to Phoenix, pet the cat–and (finally) wrote my main character throwing a big, justifiable fit.
So why did I avoid this powerful scene in the first place? I wish I could say that I’m unfamiliar with the throwing of fits, but that, unfortunately, isn’t true. I think I simply wanted to move on to easier writing.
Key scenes are difficult: you have to dig deep into the character, often looking into the darker, tantrum-throwing parts of yourself. You’re balancing the right tone, character change, growth, opposition, creating and increasing tension… And I usually end up rewriting key scenes numerous times before I get them right.
So what’s my strategy?
1. Make a list of physical sensations your characters might experience.
2. Brainstorm the setting–are there items in the setting that will amp up the tension in the scene? If not, maybe this scene needs a better setting? (Mine did!)
3. Think of a time when you’ve experienced similar emotions. Free write all those emotions, things you said, wish you’d said. Play with a variety of metaphors. Try a few lines in your character’s voice. Don’t judge anything you write, just go and go and go. See if the best bits will fit into your story. If not, at least you’ve gotten to that tension-filled emotional place.
4. Make yourself sit and write. Forget the dishes, the dog, that email that just dinged. It doesn’t have to be a great scene right now. The important thing is to write something, anything…
Because there’s always revision!