Forrest mentioned in his post that he was excited, in part, because he was writing something didn't feel forced. I know the feeling. I love writing precisely because of that feeling when the words flow onto paper almost by themselves.
But I've never experienced a story that didn't have at least one 'forced' scene that was required to transition to something critical. This tends to be where my writing falls apart.
Are there tricks to avoiding or dealing with the forced scenes? Do books or classes discuss this at all? Or must we simply forge through and try to learn from the experience?
January 26th, 2004, 08:30 PM
My tendency is to plot first, then write. I'll do several days of plotting out the entire story for the book, do each chapter, perhaps a paragraph for each chapter. I'll try to discuss (to myself of course) the points I want to hit with each chapter and what I want the characters to do. Perhaps small hints of the dialog, battle, of the daily grind my characters are going through.
Once I have that, I find it much easier for the words to flow out and onto the paper. But that's just me. If you read my other post, I also like to have music to 'inspire' me as I write. Music tends to set the mood for what I'm writing and also helps with the flow of the words. I've had points where I can't type as fast as the scene is playing through my head and I tend to mis-type, mis-spell and even use the wrong word from time to time. But at least I get the bulk of the writing done, then I can sit back and edit edit edit when I finally write my characters into a corner.
January 28th, 2004, 04:02 PM
I'd say, if it's feeling forced, write it anyway because you know where you are trying to get, just not the particular approach to getting there. I find having something on paper is much easier because at least you have a framework. Like maus99 says, planning is a good method but sometimes even that won't help you get the words down.
I got some great advive from the splendid Stan Nicholls years ago when I was struggling to get on with my second novel. I was nagging away in a circle, not really getting anywhere. He told me to write to a finish... don't look back, don't worry about the quality. You can only improve on work you've done, not on that you haven't...
January 29th, 2004, 09:00 AM
There's no easy answer to this question. You can try writing multiple scenarios to link to a critical point, and there is generally one really obvious and predictable line to follow to cross this bridge, but I think we all try to avoid the obvious as writers and instead attempt to create something that surprises the reader.
When I get stuck at a junction point, I tend to leapfrog it and continue on with the next chapter if I know where the story's going already, thus maintaining some writing output. Then I'll return to the troublesome bridging scene later on and try to brainstorm through it. Usually with some alcohol to help the creative juices flow. ;)
Sometimes it works, other times you just need to take a break from it and take some time out to relax and wind down.
Remember though, to always keep pen and paper (or a dictaphone) handy as that inspirational spark can come at any time night or day.
February 2nd, 2004, 03:01 PM
Sometimes it works pretty good for me if I go ahead and write the critical scene. I think Holly Lisle calls them "candy bar" scenes. At least then you are getting the set piece out of the way. Actually writing the scene can also sometimes present you with a way to work up to the scene. I know I once was in this situation, and when I wrote the fun scene, one of the characters (in one of those strage moments when a character seems to think for him/herself) had a thought about the day before the scene, and that allowed me to go back and write the lead-up.
Try it. It works sometimes.
February 5th, 2004, 03:42 AM
eh, I think maybe writing a book is like courting a woman.
At first, it's romantic and wonderful. And while it continues to be romantic, there will always be a time when you'll have to go the mall with your girlfriend and shop for crap that you have no interest in whatsoever. And she forces you to do it. Oh sure, she doesn't FORCE you to do it, in the sense that she doesn't threaten to run you over with her car or anything, but she just makes it clear that it's something she wants to do with you and you do it because you like her a lot and just doing it is less hassle than refusing.
So with a book, you inevitably come upon a scene that you just HAVE to have in order to make everything gel more smoothly, even though you don't want to do it.
Then again, I have yet to finish my first book, so I can officially say that I have no idea what I'm talking about and any advice I give should be taken with a few hundred grains of salt.:p
February 9th, 2004, 04:26 AM
Thinking of the difficulty as thinking consciously instead of "forcing" it may or may not help. Sometimes you just have to really think about something because the answer isn't so clear to you as it is at other times. The subconscious is where the unbridled creativity does tend to come from but you need to keep shipping more and more info into that old cranium to expand its potential. If it was too easy it wouldn't be as rewarding anyway.
March 5th, 2004, 07:07 PM
I'm not sure I understand the question. When you say "Transition to something critical" are we talking about a plot transition or about a scene buffer?
It sounds like plot transitions have been pretty well covered. The simply answer (In principle, not practice) is to decide on an ending. The rest of the scenes tend to suggest themselves as a series of waypoints on the way to the final destination. It may sound like a prelude to frustration - what if I decide later that I don't like the ending? But even if the ending does change you can still pillage any unused scenes for useful scraps. It beats staring at a blank screen waiting for the next big burst of inspiration.
Scene buffers are harder for me. I tend to pack my critical scenes too closely together. The result that they brush up against each other, create a kind of friction-of-conflict.
For example: Your main character comes to terms with the death of his father in the morning, he faces his arch-nemesis for the last time in the evening. What does he do in the afternoon? This may not work for everybody, but I use spaces like those to shore up the overall mood of the piece. If the atmosphere is a little weak I invent a scene that creates atmosphere. If the character isn't fleshed out enough I write something that reveals motivation. I also like to stick in any pungent bits of dialogue that I never found another place for. When it works right it adds weight to the overall story and gives the reader a chance to catch his/her breath.
Like I said, this may not be for everyone, but I'm afraid if I didn't fill in the spaces like this my aforementioned afternoon might sound something like - "At 2:00 Oprah came on. At 3:00 he changed the channel to...."