Troublesome Scenes

Sometimes when you are writing fiction, you run into scenes that just don’t work. My advice when that happens is to just write the scene and worry about it in the revision process. That is the best thing you can do, after all. The hardest part of writing is the revising. The first draft is always no good and you need to revise it to make the story work. This is just as true for scenes as it is for the story. After all, what is a story but a series of scenes that hang together?

When you finish the piece, you can read the problem scene and consider it from all angles. List the characters in the scene. List what the scene is supposed to accomplish for the story as a whole. Sometimes you just need a little time away from it to see where the problem lies. Other times, it’s not so simple. These are the troublesome scenes that need to be fixed. Fixing these types of problems is called macro editing. You need to fix the scenes before you fix the words. It’s not easy. No one ever said it was. Writing is easy, revising is hard.

A good way to see where the problems are is to rewrite the scene from the point of view of another character. You should do this for all the characters in the scene. This lets you view the scene from multiple point of views. The problems should pop out when you do that. Sometimes, it lets you see where you’ve actually moved from one point of view to another. That can happen without you even realizing it.

Once you have written the scene from the viewpoints of all the characters in it, you can ask yourself if it makes sense from their point of view. If it doesn’t see if it makes sense from the other characters’ viewpoints. If you find one where it does make sense, then try to leave the scene from that point of view. If that’s not an option for you, try to take the original scene and rewrite it from the original character’s point of view and try to incorporate what would make it make sense from that character’s viewpoint.

I know that’s hard to wrap your head around and it involves a lot of work. Writing is easy when it goes well. When it doesn’t, it becomes hard. Anyway, if you still can’t get it to work, consider whether you really need the scene. Would the story still make sense without it? If so, consider cutting the scene altogether. Think of it as necessary surgery to save the “life” of the story. It’s better to sacrifice a single scene than to leave it in and kill the story.


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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Posted in General Opinion, Writing Techniques

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© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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