August 14th, 2011


In Which We Get Elemental, Dear Watson (#ROW80)

Or, Making A Scene

I’ve been doing a lot of scene work lately, between Big Dang Projeckt and Keepers #2, which has made me take a closer look as to how scenes (at least my scenes) are structured. So many writers I know (okay, so all writers I know) open a word document and start right where they left off, scene after scene, chapter after chapter, manuscript after manuscript. This has led me to the conclusion that either (a) I shoulda been a screen writer, because I write in scenes, and out of order at that; or (b) I intensely hate extensive revisions. Maybe a little from column A and more than a smidge of column B.

Or, perhaps, (c) I’m Mad as the proverbial Hatter, cast as Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton.

For Brighid’s Cross (cover art in the offing! Eep!) I followed a system of scene building like the little dedicated Dozer I am, and by the time I got revisions back there was very little to be done.  Then line edits came, and there still less, though from a different perspective. Divine FLE pinpoint the rough spots I’d been having trouble with all along, and it took this long for me to figure it out. Same with Joe Kewl Copy Editor Jacob, who gave me yet another pass through the landscapes of nearly-apocalyptic London by which time I was thoroughly done and never wanted to see the bloody thing again. Gimme some new shiny, please.

And keep in mind, I had a deadline to meet for Samhain’s End of Days Anthology and Lovely, Intrepid Editor so I barely had time to fire off a synopsis and a harried read-through before submitting ten minutes to midnight of said deadline. So I figure I must’ve done something right.

Spinning Down The Page

First I brainstorm a scene, beginning with the key scenes in my plot structure, by spinning it down the page in snippets of action/image/dialogue as a way of forcing everything out of my brain so I don’t forget anything. I leave plenty of white space for notes. (I do this with the entire plot before I write a single word—but now I’m going deeper, purging the grey matterz to get myself into the groove). I push myself, finding everything I can, even if it takes a couple of times.

Timed Writing 

Once the garage of my subconscious is cleaned of clutter, I turn my attention to the separate elements of the scene. Time writing forces me to keep pen to paper. It’s kind of like yoga for the creative brain—it goes all bendy and may twinge a little afterward. First I write dialogue only for ten minutes, then action, and finally setting. By now I’m writing hot, breathing deep, and hardly notice the Ninja Katz clawing up my leg looking for attention and/or food.


Now it’s time to put it all into the computer, weaving the separate threads into a cohesive (and hopefully coherent) whole. The beauty of this is, even if I’ve run out of writing time for the day, I can always put it into the computer the next day or even later. The scene has already been written. In fact, it’s technically been drafted a couple of times by now. By the time I get to the typeity-typeity, I’ve got the scene fairly clean and tight. Often I’ll work on the first two elements of my scene building during my lunch hours or after work during the week, but wait until the weekend to add the scenes to my manuscript.

With all that in mind, let’s talk this week’s goals:

Gotta Have More Goal:


1.      Big Dang Projeckt:

Trucking right along on the second quarter of my manuscript. The second half won’t last nearly as long, since the fourth quarter is either prepped or written, thanks to my initial work this year (and, of course, to The Weekend Novelist program). This week I’m plowing fast and furious toward midpoint with a Harvest Moon celebration (which may change, given the time of year this is taking place, but it’s good enough for now), which will include a dire if cryptic warning from our favorite Assassin, the First Dance between our favorite Fallen Knight and his Minstrel, and will end in Foul Murder. I’ve come to the conclusion I’ve been destroying way too much with fire (it’s so dramatic, yanno?), and I literally need to cool it. Will think more on this over the week.

2.   Keepers #2:

I’ve begun the upward slope that is the first part of Act II. This will include some scrying, and the protagonist and romantic interest trying to out-mysterious one another while fighting             against mutual attraction (What? This is apocalyptic fantasy with romantic elements for Samhain. There must be mutual attraction amongst the destruction in an interesting, fantastical     dangerous setting. Simply because it’s fun.). Also, there’s the small matter of a voodoo ritual to get me to the 25% mark, but I don’t know if I’ll make it that far this week.  

3.   Operation Karma:

First Chapter Shooter is ready to go for this week; I’ll review it during one of my rainy lunch hours and write the critique on Friday for Saturday’s posting. And, of course, I’ll have to check in daily with my 8s to make sure no one is left out, also easy enough to at work over coffee. This has become of favorite little ritual of mine—coffee and 8s.

In fact, I think I’ll brew some and check-in now. Care to join me?

Oh, go on. Join the Dark Side. We have cookies.


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