Don’t Go to Work Naked

Sometimes, writing a novel is like getting up in the morning, putting on an outfit, deciding it doesn’t quite work, choosing another outfit, realizing you’re going to have to change your bra or you won’t look decent, deciding to keep on outfit No. 1, realizing outfit No. 1 has a hole in a conspicuous place, changing your bra et al to put on outfit No. 2, realizing you don’t have cute shoes for outfit No. 2, coming up with an idea for outfit No. 3, realizing the tights you’d need are dirty. Such clothing revision might take 15 or 20 minutes, maybe half an hour on a really bad day. Panic can set in, and you start to feel stuck.

With a novel, the struggle lasts years.

The scene I’ve been working on is now in its third major incarnation. The basics haven’t changed. Someone comes home. Another character has gone missing. There’s a confrontation with the people in the house about the missing-ness of the other character.

The missing character has not changed (although the reason she’s missing has). The setting has only sort of changed — the scene has simply moved from a room in the house to the entry hall. The characters have shifted. Originally, two characters came home together and confronted three other characters. Those two characters are now at odds, the other three are out of the scene.

It’s taken three years and a lot of changes in other parts of the novel for the scene to get where it is now. (In fact, this is the scene I told you all I was cutting. In the end, without really knowing what I was doing, I moved it and changed the characters.)

I’m determined to make the scene work and move on.

I’m also fascinated that a scene can change completely, and yet still be the same scene. Sort of.

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6 thoughts on “Don’t Go to Work Naked

  1. Kathleen Lawton-Trask

    It’s interesting how this changes, isn’t it? Have you gotten the scene to a point where you like it yet? Sometimes, when I suddenly realize how a random detail can make a scene or plotline work, it feels as if the planets are aligning just for me, and then the whole struggle seems worth it.

    Reply
    1. equotah Post author

      Hi, Steve. I wouldn’t have thought I had the patience, either, but once you get to a certain point on a story that clearly deserves to be a novel, you kind of can’t give up.

      Reply

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