Monday, January 31, 2011

Missing Opportunities

Last week's critique group was a real eye-opener for me and gave me a whole new thing worry and obsess over. Missed opportunities. In one of my scenes the heroine had to come to this big, sort of left field realization. My heroine goes from passive to active in her life. So, I was very wrapped up in making sure that she came to this decision in a methodical way. I took my time with the scene - I had her getting drunk. It was a pretty static scene and not that I put thought into that, but I was so worried about the internal conflict and changes that were happening and making sure those were believable.

Everyone can relate, right? We've all had those scenes, hell, those books.

Feedback was good until Sinead opens her mouth and says the scene felt like a missed opportunity. For a moment, I was like - No. Sinead. No.

But then, of course I realized she was right. How dynamic is it to show a character going from passive to active in her life, while sitting down? While being passive? In an effort to up my game I'm trying to push scenes and characters as far as I can go - trying to get all the juice out of them as I can in my own feeble-minded way. I can't miss opportunities to SHOW my characters changing or failing. I have to combine plot with character as much as possible - and then add all the other crap - voice, mood, tone, humor, sexy sex - all of it. Previous to that night, I was a little stunted in my progress, I was obsessing about all the juice I was trying to get out of things, and then for a while I was convinced every scene was a missed opportunity.

It's not like I know I'm missing the opportunity while I'm stumbling right past it. It's not like I'm being lazy, it's that my brain is so small.

But then I realized I have a safety net. If my own writer's sixth sense doesn't see what I'm doing wrong - Sinead will. So, thanks Sinead.


Charli Mac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charli Mac said...

CPs are awesome. Mine recently told me how fantastic and witty this one scene was. I blushed. Then I read the rest of her assessment. She said it didn't move the story. I had no real point other than to show of a group eating dinner. Hmm. I didn't even realize that.

BTW, that active by passive is a genius plot device.

Maureen McGowan said...

What would we do without Sinead????

Sinead M said...

Thanks Molly, but that's why we have CP's, because distance from the story and the process of telling it give us amazing perspective... perspective I could only dream of having about my own work.

Eileen said...

I have been unsuccessful in working with a critique group. My process doesn't seem to lend itself to it and I never seem to have enough time to read other people's stuff. Talk about missing opportunities!

I don't think your brain is small, Molly. I think there's just way too much stuff that we're trying to do in each and every scene. The fact that you can combine both the logic of knowing all that and the intuitive emotion of the scene makes you awesome!

Karen W said...

Some books are just struggles. Believe me, I know.

Stephanie Doyle said...

I hate that... when you have a really good sceen and then someone (cought Molly cough) says what's the point of it?

My answer is usually like... 'cause. I mean it's a book set in England - they have to DANCE at some point!!!

Next you'll want me to take out the tea scene becuase there is no point to that.

I mean picky picky... wanting each scene to reach it's fullest potential.

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