Sunday, August 3, 2008

Writing the Big Scenes in Fiction

Let me ask you a question.

Do you avoid / dread / loathe writing the big scenes in your fiction?

Over the years I've noticed one of two things.

One, the writer is so nervous about writing the big important scenes that they will subconsciously avoid them by taking ages over getting to them.

Here's how it goes.

There's a crucial scene in the story where there's a confrontation or a climactic event - and the writer is creeping up towards it, filling the pages with exposition and preparatory dialogue - only to freeze just before 'the big scene' and put off writing anymore - sometimes for months or, in some cases, years.

The other scenario involves glossing over that part of the story. You'll often see writers fill pages with the run up to the big event - all nice showing instead of telling and yet, when it comes to 'the big scene' it's told from a distance or from an uninvolved point of view or, most commonly, in retrospect, after the event.

This might seem strange, though I think it's fairly common.

It's kinda related to what I was talking about in last week's newsletter - the idea that writers are sometimes afraid to confront their own deepest emotions. I think that in the same way most sane people avoid confrontation, writers will avoid opening themselves up to a challenge.

Climactic set pieces make very compelling reading. Writers are often judged by their ability to pull them off - and perhaps that's the problem. Writers don't want to be judged by writing that is focussed, action based and as graphic as an open wound.

We'd prefer to hide behind the relative comfort of internal dialogue, character exposition and literary description. Mistake!

'Big scenes' normally involve heightened emotion - something not all writers are comfortable describing - because I assume they're worried that their particular experience of heightened emotion seems so personal - even private.

But that's the point. Readers want to know what other people's heightened emotions are like!

They want to experience the thrill of adventure, danger, risk, marriage, death, murder and the myriad of other BIG emotions any one of us may fall victim to.

It's important not to shy away from the challenging - in life and your writing. Challenging yourself makes you grow - gain wisdom and lead a more fulfilling life.

You don't have to drive Speedway cars to describe the thrill of it. You can use your imagination - that's what it's for - and describe what you feel for the benefit of readers.

In a sense that's your job - to give a reader the experience of 'being there' without them having to leave their armchair.

You owe it to your readers to confront the big scenes.

As an exercise, try writing JUST big scenes - especially if you're a little afraid of them. I think you'll find that they're very satisfying to complete, even if they might take just a little longer to get right.

Get straight into the action. Keep the sentences relatively short and describe ONLY what is happening.

I'm sure you'll benefit - and so will your readers.

Keep Writing!

Rob@easywaytowrite.com
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The Easy Way to Write

Welcome to the official blog of the Easy Way to Write from Rob Parnell, updated weekly - sometimes more often!