What to do when you are stuck or a scene in your book just doesn’t “work”

I am always on the lookout for topics to write about on my blog. Recently, I was working on my latest work in progress (tentatively titled Blood Bond).

Now part of my process of writing is not to just plow through the first draft and then come back and cut/fix all sorts of problems that might crop up from writing with just a rough outline/idea of a story. I write and edit at the same time. So after I write a few chapter, my husband reads and comments on my WIP. I then typically go back and tighten/expand/fix sections while I am continuing to write the rest of my initial draft.

My husband is forever asking for character motivation (Why would she do that?) and so as I write, I typically am trying to guess what comments he is going to make and address them in advance.

About a week or so ago, I wrote a scene. I often spend the time while my son is at soccer practice or when waiting for my kids to get out of school re-reading scenes. I read this one and it wasn’t quite right. So I changed the order of events. Nope. Still not flowing. I expanded a section. Nope. Not right. I rewrote part of it and dang it, I was still not happy with the beginning of the scene.

bang-head-against-brick-wallThis is when I decided that I would write about what to do when you just can’t seem to get the scene to flow “just right”. Because sometimes the more you work on it, it just doesn’t get any better.

So here are some tips for when you reach the point where you are stuck and can’t seem to get pass the scene you are working on.

1.) Step Back – Take a break. Go for a walk. Read a book. Watch a movie or even just listen to some music. Basically take some time to free your mind up. Now this break could be 30 minutes or it could be a day or two but don’t step away for too long. There is no use losing all your writing momentum.

2.) Keep Writing – Instead of finishing the scene you are working on, go on to the next one and resolve that you will return to the troubling scene later.

3.) Reread/revisit other areas – It might be time to go back a chapter or two and read what you already have written. Reading what is working might just be enough to get you through the problem area.

4.) Examine for an underlying problem – Maybe you have hit this roadblock because of deeper issues in your novel. Or maybe we are trying to force the action to be what we want rather than let our characters live out their own lives.

5.) Let someone else read it – Perhaps the problem is not as glaring or as big as you think. Give it to a friend or a writers’ group member whose opinion you respect and see if they spot the problem or if they possibly can spark an idea on how to fix it.

Just realize that all writers will at sometime be stuck on a scene and that you will get pass this. My solution to my own problem was to keep writing. I finished out the next few scenes and then went back to my problematic scene and corrected it.

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