Friday, September 9, 2011

Under Construction

This morning I watched Truck Boy build a train track complete with perilous bridge.  Every time he went over the bridge it collapsed.  Every time he would cry then rebuild it.  The exact same way as before.  He’s only two and a half so I hardly expect him to think “hey this didn’t work before maybe I should try something different”.  But it was interesting to watch how surprised he was each time.

Sometimes I’ve had a scene that didn’t work.  I’ve rewritten it again and again without changing much.  A few words here or there, more description, less description, or maybe they’re angry instead of surprised.  I’m sure more experienced authors would have looked at me in confusion or amusement thinking “how many times will it take before she realizes she needs to completely rebuild the scene”. 

Like my son’s bridge sometimes scenes need to be torn down and completely changed.  Maybe it should be told from a different pov, or it needs different characters, or the information we thought so important to impart maybe isn’t.  Try changing the setting, the time of day.  Make it in a barn at midnight instead of a funeral home at tea time.  How does that change your characters reactions and revelations?  And of course we always need to make sure the scene is needed, does it advance the plot?  Or should we cut it entirely?  I’m sure my son’s train track would have been a lot more stable if he had just removed the bridge.


  1. LOL! Sara, have you ever considered that the scene is a detriment to your story? At least that's my usual problem--especially with the ones I insist I *must* have. ; )

  2. Oh, my, yes! It comes down to me not wanting to kill my darlings. I think, but this description is lovely. Finally, finally, I'm really starting to get ruthless. You should see the notes in the margins at the moment. "No tension here." "What's the point of the parrot?" "Too wimpy." "Enough with the arm grabbing!" ...

  3. ... but maybe the bridge was the whole point of the exercise?