Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Scattered Brain Mine Is

The other night we were talking about which types of scenes are hardest to write and hardest to revise, and since I'd just gone through doing a revision of a book I first wrote a few years ago... and observed that I'd ended up making very few changes in many sections, and then a whole waft of changes in others... (some scenes ending up virtually unrecognizable from their originals) I realized what kind of scenes I usually find hardest to get right.

The big "thinking" scenes. The scenes where major shifts happen in terms of how the character views life the universe and everything. Usually in these scenes, not much action happens. Or, sometimes these thoughts are scattered in amongst action or dialogue, making it even more challenging to get all the ordering right. But no... now that I think about it, those ones aren't as bad, because usually the action or dialogue drives the character's thought processes. It's when my characters' minds (read mine) get a quiet moment to wander and ponder, that I get in trouble.

Maybe it's because I'm a tad over-analytical and always put in too much and have my characters look at things from too many angles, and then have to end up slicing and dicing. Or maybe it's just because I'm a tad scattered at times. Or maybe it's because I don't think about these scenes enough in advance so that sometimes I'm trying to figure out how my character feels as I write the scene... (There I go, looking at too many angles, even in doing this post.)

But with all the arrows, and crossing out and adding, and move this paragraph three pages forward, and move this one two pages back that I did on this revision, I kept thinking it would be so much easier if my characters' thoughts came out in the right order in the first place!!! **Maureen shakes fist at characters.**

This is why I find action scenes and dialogue scenes so much easier most of the time. Yes, both usually need some major edits after the first draft, but those edits are usually technical things like tightening, or adding detail and setting, or cleaning things up, or changing the sentence structure. And, for dialogue scenes, adding stage directions or reactions or (gasp) even a dialogue tag if I absolutely have to.

But for those big "thinking" scenes, it's like all my thoughts come out in the wrong order and I have to move or rewrite virtually every sentence. I think it's because I'm an NP type on the Myers Briggs thing. At least I'd rather think that, than the less palatable explanation -- I'm getting old... (My ophthalmologist called me young, yesterday. I wanted to hug her.)

Does anyone else have this problem? Or unique am I in thoughts order coming always wrong?

7 comments:

Eileen said...

Oh, sweetie, you are my non-linear sister! I know just what you mean. Add to that that my characters often get distracted even in the middle of an action scene, by, oh, I don't know, maybe something shiny? I'm all over the map when it comes to linear narrative. It would be fabulous if it came out in the right order the first time. I'd love that, too!

Molly O'Keefe said...

oh, it's hard. Those scenes are the hardest - I can usually (in rewrites) find a way to get rid of the scene, but those scenes I can't get rid of, I have to write them, and write them too long, and make it a mess before I even know what the point is - where B is to A. And then once I have that I have to edit with that in mind, and then it usually changes again. They're terrible scenes to write.

Maureen McGowan said...

Glad I'm not the only one.

Reflecting about it more, I think the more I've thought a scene through before I start writing scenes like that, the better off I am... But on the other hand, some of the real magic happens when I do let my fingers do the thinking... but some of the real crap, too...

Magic or crap. Some days you just have to type and see which lands on the page.

Sinead M said...

I with you on the type and see what lands on the page. For me, those scenes rarely work and only when I've edited them to perfection... and then rewritten them..

Kathy Holmes said...

Great topic to ponder... I'm revising my ms now and I'm starting to overthink it - tempted to delete all of those thinking scenes because I tend to add too many. But then I have to stop myself because it needs some thinking scenes - lol! Ack!

Molly O'Keefe said...

it seems like the thinking about thinking scenes is what is killing us!!

prashant said...
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