Writer Q&As: Exploring Scene

How do you “dig deep” in a scene to write it in the most compelling way possible? Are there techniques for exploring different options? [Carol Cram]

Assume that you need you to dig deeper whenever you write a scene: it’s rare that this is not the case. Next, learn how to recognize what the narrative’s cues are that urge you to dig deeper. For example, it goes flat, looses momentum, confuses the reader, seems to be contradictory, feels rushed, is summarizing where it needs to evoke. In tandem with these results are the writer’s feelings of uneasiness, frustration, bafflement, fear, or avoidance.

Identify which of these feelings is shaping your resistance: this will inform you about what has been preventing you from digger deeper. Then locate exactly where one of these feelings (say, avoidance) and narrative cues (say, loss of momentum) are limiting the narrative’s power and write freely into that spot. Think of it as opening a trap to go below the narrative’s oversimplified, flat surface. Finally, a simple diagnostic is to look at the length of paragraphs. If they tend to be of similar length then there’s a problem: find a paragraph that holds a pivotal moment and double or triple its size by slowing down and evoking more detail and sensation.

Posted by: Betsy Warland

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Posted by: Lindsay Glauser