Well, I should say what I USUALLY do. I’ve been fighting with a scene for the past month and just realized I should’ve taken my own good advice long ago! I’ve rewritten the thing a gazillion times and it just won’t work. It feels forced and aimless even though I’ve given the characters plenty of good motivation for doing what I need them to do…
Anyway – at least once in 80% of the books I’ve written I’ve hit a wall with a scene. Like I said above, it just WON’T work. It doesn’t flow, it feels forced or won’t move at all. It’s like all of the characters have gone to sleep on the page and just won’t wake up. I HATE that feeling!
But several years ago when I was writing my very first book I heard Jennifer Ashley speak at a conference and she mentioned that sometimes she skips ahead and writes other scenes when one she’s on just isn’t working. Before that I had always envisioned writers just sitting down at the keyboard and writing from Chapter One until the end in one continuous stream. So hearing this comment from a New York Times Best Selling author who writes great books opened up a whole new vista of possibilities for me.
I immediately went home and wrote the last scene of the book which had been perking in my mind from almost the beginning of the book. After that was out of my head and on paper, I was able to go back and write the rest of the middle and thread it all together. That book – Into a Dangerous Mind – went on to win the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award for 2006 for Best Small Press Contemporary Paranormal, and is one of my best selling books as Tina Gerow to date.
Since then I’ve also used that tactic on many of my other books, including most of my Cassie Ryan books. It allows me to move on with a scene I can already see inside my head, and there’s also something about getting it out of my brain and into my manuscript that kicks my imagination and creativity back into high gear. Usually after that accomplishment – I can go back and thread those scenes together with the previous ones to bridge the gap, so to speak. So now I usually take the time to go ahead and write any scenes that keep playing over in my imagination, even before it’s their turn to play out in my manuscript.
However, this time, for some reason I didn’t do that and it has bitten me on the butt with a month of spinning my wheels. I can try to blame it on the personal stress lately or some other external thing, but I think the problem was that this was just a novella length story that I was writing to keep me writing daily until I’m back under contract. So consequently I don’t have the axe over my head of an actual deadline, and I wasn’t quite as driven as I normally am to finish. I know that’s a piss poor excuse and I need to get my ass in gear and finish it and move onto the next even while continuing to work with my agent to get me back under contract.
But after my <FACE PALM> moment this morning where I realized what I had been doing to myself, I’m finally back on board and first thing tomorrow I will take my own good advice! Or actually, the great advice that I got from Jennifer Ashley years ago and have since heard from countless other authors.
I say first thing tomorrow because I’ve already spent an hour this morning rewriting that damn scene yet again only to wear out my brain and frustrate myself beyond belief!
Yeah, sometimes I’m not too bright…lol!
So take my advice (and feel free to toss it back at me if you see me falling into this rut again!) If a scene just isn’t working, don’t force it. Jump ahead and write something later in the book and get your “love” for that story back. Then you can always go back and thread those together. In fact for one of my Cassie Ryan books I had in mind several different scenes – I think there were 8, but I wasn’t sure of the overall book arc yet. So I wrote those 8 different scenes and then threaded them together with the first three chapters – which was the partial I sold the trilogy off of – and then smoothed the entire thing together and BAM – Ceremony of Seduction was finished and ready to edit! Which incidentally, is my best selling book under either pen name – EVER 🙂
Happy writing, all!