Saturday, August 27, 2011

Musings on writing and a Rubik's cube...

Any other writers out there feel like when you're trying to do a scene you keep working and reworking it because something just isn't right.  To me it feels like my novel is a Rubik's Cube.  I know all the parts and where I think they should go but they're just not in the right place.  And trying to get them in the proper place is a BI*** and a half sometimes.  Because every so often I do something in one area of the test and it messes up something I had planned for later.  Or I wind up hitting a dead end and have to go back restart the whole section entirely.

Now this has happened to me on a number of occasions.  Some people tell me to have an outline ready but that never works for me.  This is usually because my characters start going in other directions by saying or doing things I hadn't originally planned.  Admittedly I let them get away with it but only if what they want to do seems to be working way better than what I originally planned.  But most of the time I can see where they are going won't work so I scrap or save the scene for another time and place.  On those occasions I get to point and laugh at the characters saying, "See?  I told you I knew what I was doing... NEENER-NEENER."

Unfortunately, I tend to do this out loud and get some really strange looks from anyone in a 30 foot radius.  At this point, it's my main characters who are doing the pointing and laughing.  Now this is really quite annoying because I can't kill any of them off and they know it.

Anyway, getting back to my original point.  Writing a scene can be quite frustrating and difficult at times.  But, if you keep at it by looking at what's not working try some of the following.  Change who's in the scene, keep the ones who are most poignant and add someone else from the cast, or even eliminate one or two others if they're not vital at that moment.  Change the location of what's happening.  Maybe the setting is the problem and you can get more out of a different location.  If something major is about to be revealed, how much of it do you really have to unveil at this moment?  Maybe only a portion that whets the appetite of the characters and the audience.  The characters can go off half-cocked or aware that something is still missing and they head off in pursuit of that information.  If they go off half-cocked they'll make mistakes which can lead to other interesting scenes.  Remember, a character who isn't perfect is far more interesting than the most competent, wonderful, knows everything Mary Sue.

So, don't be afraid to tear apart a scene that's frustrating you.  Rework it again and again until you get the results you're looking for.  You may wind up with something that opens new avenues for later scenes or even storylines. 

Oh, and for the record, I did finally defeat the dreaded Rubik's Cube in my own creative way.  No I didn't remove the decals and change them around (my wife's solution).  Nor did I take it apart and reassemble it so the colors matched up.  I spray painted the entire thing silver and used it for a paperweight.  A very creative solution, don't you think?