A major pitfall in writing is glazing over a topic because of obstacles or incompetencies. An obstacle would be something like a word count limit, or a time limit, or fear. It’s anything that would stand in your way of delving more into your topic. An incompetency would be simply not knowing enough about the subject matter to write it fully. Sometimes all of the research in the world won’t convince the most discerning of readers.
Many of these roadblocks in the writer’s path are real and immovable. A word count restriction, for instance, is definite. If you’re submitting for something that calls for a set amount of words, you will have to obey that restriction or face rejection. A time limit is when your editor needs your follow up piece by a certain date. This, while some may be flexible, is another obstacle to heed. The solution to these restrictions requires that the author make careful decisions in their calculations on what to include in the story and what not to include. They’ll have to spend their time wisely and push forward to meet the demands.
When the blocks of delivering authentic scenes are due to emotional resistance, a writer must do their all to push through that. It might be that the scene calls for some hot romance but the writer is a bit of a prude, or it might be that writing that scene brings up bad memories or hurt feelings from earlier in life, or maybe the block is fear – there are many things writers will pen for the sake of the story that if their readers believed they’d done something similar in their real life, it would be embarrassing. Many romance writers face this with a sly grin, while others hide behind pen names and obscure identities. The best writers will put the words on the paper regardless of how they feel. They know that if something they write makes someone emotional, then they’ve done their job. They also know that the brief moments of embarrassment, or unease, will pass when people appreciate their stories.
If it’s an emotional block, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it to you to push through with that scene. If it is too much for you to bear to write the scene authentically because you’re not ready to face your emotions then you have two choices: cut the scene entirely and work your characters around the scene so it makes sense (not the best choice because readers can usually pick up when the writer has changed gears), or you could take this opportunity to pour all of your emotions into the scene and see where it takes you. The later choice often creates magical moments in writing.
Writing scenes authentically means to write it as though it really happened. It means that the writer of the story has to put themselves in the place of the characters and feel the scene, to see the scene with their mind’s eye, to embrace the scene with their hearts. They have to breathe the scene in order to make it live. If it means resorting to physical memories that the author experienced in real life, or if it’s information garnered after hours of research, when writing an authentic scene, a writer will do what it takes.
So what happens if you write a scene as authentically as you are able to but your intentions don’t translate to the reader? You could beat your head against a wall and wonder why the cues you set out weren’t picked up. It probably won’t get you very far very quickly. The better way is to read the trouble scene critically. Chances are that you limited the scene for one of the reasons stated above and the choices you made to counter the obstacles weren’t the best choices. If it’s a word count limit, go through scenes and cut anything unnecessary in order to make room to expand on your troubled scene.
Creating an authentic scene is sort of a misnomer, in the way that often our first tries at authentic scenes may not work out. In drafting, you will find yourself laying the foundation or bones of the story. You more mold your authentic scenes than create them.
Considering the point with writing is to offer the readers an emotional ride, it’s the author’s duty to make it as deep, and authentic of a ride as possible. Don’t you think?
Until next time,