Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Writing (and Revising) the Hard Scenes

A lot of bad stuff happens in my WIP.

I mean, that should really go without saying. It is a dystopian/sci-fi. There are very clear villains. And the premise involves killing.

So. Yeah. A lot of bad stuff happens.

But when I started writing the book, I never realized how hard this stuff would be on me. Because it's not just the villains who suffer in my book. The good guys suffer, too. They go through some painful stuff - physically and emotionally. There's one scene that makes me cry every time I read it - and when you put your very first word on the page a year ago, you end up going through a lot of readings. There are other scenes that make my stomach turn because...well, they're kind of gory.

Every time I read some scenes, I consider changing the outcome. Even though I've always planned for things to turn out that way, even though I know they work better if I leave it as is, I can't help but think to myself, "What if I just tried it another way?" And maybe I even let the result play out in my head...but it never works as well.

And that's how I know I'm making the right choices. Because even when it kills me to do mean things to my characters, I know, ultimately (as strange as it is) it's for the best. Kids don't grow up if they're coddled, and the same goes for characters. You have to let them deal with the hard stuff, with the heartache. And it's so rewarding to see how they change because of it. (Did I just compare my characters to children? YUP.)

So don't be afraid to write the hard scenes. Let your characters suffer. You'll be glad you did.


  1. Most of my really key scenes, the ones where something big and emotional happens, come out super rushed. I think it's because I subconsciously don't want to be there. It's emotionally difficult for me, so I don't linger in the moment and really milk it for all it's worth. A lot of my revisions are about going back in and forcing myself to basically revel in the painfulness of it. IT SUCKS. :)

  2. I will be writing an awful death scene in my NaNo this month (one that is very close to something that could happen in my life) and I'm afraid it is going to wear me out emotionally. This post was perfect timing for me Heather!

  3. I'm in a part in my WIP where I have to write a scene I don't really want to, but it's needed for my character to grow. But I just, ugh. Don't wanna write it.

    Thanks for this post! It helped me!

  4. This is so hard for me for the same reason I'm a crappy teacher and I think I'll be a crappy parent. I just look at them and it's just so hard to deny them anything! I'm such a pushover.

    But I'm doing better...I've been adding in some more hard stuff. I guess I'm growing up, too.

  5. I have a love-hate relationship with the hard scenes. One thing I took away from my literary workshops was the idea that suffering equals literary gold, so it's not so hard sometimes.

    But then it is, because you're right beside your character thinking, "It hurts so GOOD."

    And then you worry about your sanity.

    BUT. Yeah. Hard scenes are some of the best.

    Although I'm working on a few scenes throughout SPITFIRE that are just damn HARD TO WRITE. Logistically. They're killing me. Killing. Me. *cries*

  6. I'm pretty sure if you are making yourself cry you are on the right track. That sounds odd, but I'm guessing you know what I mean.

  7. I'm the same. Hard scenes are heartbreaking, but I think that if I feel that way about them then it may just have the desired effect. :)

  8. I hate the hard scenes so freaking much because I know at the end of it, I'm going to have snot on my keyboard and feel emo for the rest of the day. The hard scenes are pretty much the last half of my NaNo...nothing but bliss ahead friend!

    Awesome post BTW!


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