WHEN YOU DIDN’T REALIZE HOW IMPORTANT A SCENE WAS
I write these posts when I get an epiphany (and interestingly enough, it is set right before the real Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th, 2006).
I did what I always do, and gathered enormous amount of material related to the scene in progress – and went through my usual process of trying to turn the most important parts of what the Reader needs to know at this point into a coherent scene.
Almost always when I get to this point in my writing process (and I’ve written much about that), the scene almost self-organizes, includes some of the bits of dialogue I’ve developed during the process, and gives me trouble until I get it written.
Then I clean it up, check against my lists, run it through AutoCrit, and am usually happy to move to the next one.
And occasionally I get massively stuck
Which drives me crazy, and then drives me to picking apart what I’ve done, writing in my Fear Journal, and generally making a mess of everything.
Until suddenly the subconscious hits me upside the head with a ten foot Pole (to thoroughly mix metaphors), and I somehow figure out what’s wrong.
And then add it to another list: THINGS I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN.
Or at least expected!
Which are embarrassingly obvious after that point.
Endings and beginnings are fraught
This scene is essentially the last one in this section of the plot. I knew I needed it, structurally, and threw it in, moved some content around, and left it as a stub in my very detailed Scene list in the Dramatica file.
But I did NOT have a rough draft (the very rough draft of everything I have has been proof of my ability to create a story from nothing, and still serves as an anachronistic paper map to the path) for this scene.
Because, in many ways, I was still learning plotting when I finished the first plot (for Dramatica initiates, had my storyform down to 1) and wrote the rough draft to flesh out the ideas. Only Sandy, my long-suffering writing partner at the turn of the century, has seen the rough draft – and I hope she’s forgotten.
The storyform was then revised permanently in the great Reorganization of 2007.
So, I had somehow known SOMETHING WAS NECESSARY HERE,
thrown it into the mix, and moved on to more important things, such as writing PURGATORY.
And of course that’s what landmines are for: to make you sit up and pay attention.
To put this all into something more understandable: my usual process led me to gather enough material for this important transition pivot, but I hadn’t realized it was an important scene.
I thought it was a simple ‘cleanup and move on’ scene.
And of course it did no such thing as self-assemble.
The important ones on whatever scale never do.
Because they’re something new, and you haven’t done it quite that way before, and your subconscious doesn’t know HOW.
So, no template. So, no assembly possible.
And then, in the wondering and thinking and journaling that goes about when I get stuck in these little quagmires, I suddenly realized that we had reached the top of one mountain, the view was spectacular in all directions (see image), and it was going to matter, a lot, exactly how we got down.
For specifics, and so you might recognize it later, we move from the Czech Republic to Ireland. Over the course of a couple bits in several scenes.
And it is a major turning point in not only this chapter, but this book, and the whole trilogy, because the bottom has been hit, and the Reader doesn’t yet know how the characters are going to climb out, because climb out they must.
Apologizing for the contradictory images and the many cliches, I go now to write this scene, somehow, because I have to.
And that’s not bad.
As a question, do you remember your turning points, and how wobbly they felt?