I Don’t Know, and That’s a Good Thing

Posted: January 27, 2015 by writingsprint in Writing
Tags: , , ,

The best part about making yourself write every night is that it forces you to explore your scenes. You don’t always know what’s going to happen. You may only a rough idea of where the scene needs to go.

An easy way is to begin with a scene-setting image of where we are, or a precipitating event like someone showing up, walking away, or a throwing down a gauntlet. From there, either move into the character’s head with what they’re thinking about, or give the reader some physical details to pull them farther into the scene.

And to pull you in there, too. When you don’t know what’s happening next, you want to feel like you’re standing in the room. What would you do next? What do you wish you would do?

As far as physical details go, I’m partial to smells and tactile sensations. Sounds and sights need intellect to give them meaning, but smell and touch are visceral. You’ll react from the gut long before your brain figures out how it feels about them. Unless your character is eating, drinking, kissing or smoking, taste is a subtle one. Air can have a taste. Fear has a taste. Otherwise, there isn’t much call for it.

Those details will give you ideas on what happens next. Jump into why your character is here as soon as possible. Let them take a step toward it, then put an obstacle in their way. Make them overcome it or reassess their goal. Or, for the exercise, make it easy for them, just to see how boring it is 🙂 . Then try something else.

When you’re done, wrap up the scene and move on to the next. A sense of conclusion works well for scenes where you want the reader to go, “Ahhh.” Love scenes, reunions, moments of victory all end well if you let your characters and the reader enjoy the moment. Dropping a hint works well to pull the reader into the next scene, or the next chapter. Mention that things aren’t finished, that the character has someone to meet, somewhere to go, something to do that didn’t happen here. Then if you can, start the next scene where that thing happens.

Give yourself the freedom to wander. You’ll be amazed where you wind up.

  1. A.D. Everard says:

    This is great advice. I think writers sometimes forget that they are there to explore too. It’s too easy to get tied into how much work there is in front of them, or the problems they are facing. Exploration as you have described – being there, what would you want? – is a perfect way forward.

    And Hi! I’m back. It’s been a long while, much longer than I expected! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I just saw that you’ve made a few posts lately that I’ve missed. I did a lot of traveling around the holidays and work has been busy. I hope your writing’s going well.

      It’s been a long time since I’ve worked on a novel. I forgot just how much of the work is figuring things out. You know the major milestones but not what happens in between. (Isn’t that what you call ‘gaps’?) I’m figuring out what happens. The good news is that I’m getting inside the characters’ heads, too.


      • A.D. Everard says:

        Sounds like you’re going great. Yeah, I’m finally writing well, the enforced time out of it while moving house was good for me. When I crawled back into my current manuscript, I could see exactly where I was going off the rails and why I was having such a bad time with it. So now I’m back on track.

        Unfortunately, while moving I also got used to being off the Internet, which means I’ll have to watch I don’t let it take over again – I’m six months late with this book already!

        It’s good to see you back here and writing too. It’s great that you’re enjoying time and getting into your character’s heads. That’s where it’s at!

        Cheers! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. thatssojacob says:

    This is totally me. I race to press that publish button before midnight…usually I make it, sometimes by a few seconds. I have missed the mark a few times but if you look at my blog, I have something just about every day, or every other at least.


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