Interrogating a Stubborn Scene


You don’t even need a rubber hose.

When absolutely nothing will emerge from your mind, open this secret tap. Don’t try to write the scene. Write about it. Q&A yourself, right there in the middle of the manuscript. (Neatness does not count in zero drafts, and if neatness makes you freeze, you lose points for neatness. Be messy.)

Start a new line and just brain dump, with a bit of control. Putting it in a different font or color is good. Like–

What do I want to have happen here? Eddy should find the body, and then something needs to chase him away and after he’s not sure he really saw it. What would chase him away? A big dog but there aren’t any dogs or it woulda eat the body someone coming in, a flash flood, fire, storm, earthquake an angel a ghost…

Don’t edit your blurting one bit. Let it go over the top. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are optional. Notice how the generic question gives an answer from which you pull a story-specific question to keep it rolling.

Your solution may be in the crazier stuff. Maybe flood is your answer: a plumbing pipe breaks and water crawls out from under the wall and starts to wash the blood toward Eddy’s shoes and this freaks him out so he runs. Maybe it is a ghost: at least, Eddy though he saw a pale shape over the body and screamed and ran.

Is dialogue your jam? Try it something like this…

What do they have to say here? What do they have to pass on? What do they hide or leave out? What is the mood or effect at the end?

This indirect writing can help you get a handle on characters, cultures, settings. Forget those formal fill-in-the-blanks “interviews.” Let your character talk to you, but every time they clam up, poke them with a question about something they’ve said already.

One response »

  1. Pingback: Revision 03a: Carrot or Carrot? | hollyiblogs

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