Thursday, July 25, 2013

Scenes From...

by Allison Pang

Okay - first off, I get to mention that the Carniepunk anthology dropped this week, so huzzah! Yours truly has a short Abby Sinclair story included ,entitled "A Duet with Darkness" - so if you've ever wanted to know how Melanie ended up with that magic violin and a soul that quite possibly belongs to the Devil, this is where you'll find out. :) Check it out here. (Note that it's also available on if you'd prefer that version instead. I've got a copy, but I haven't quite managed to get myself to listen to it yet - I have a really hard time listening to my own words... >_<)

Anyway,  I'm afraid I probably won't be much help on this week's subject. Judging by a lot of what I've read as to what you should or shouldn't do (e.g. "never put your characters to bed at the end of the chapter because your readers will go to bed too!")  - I'm probably a complete failure.

I put my characters to bed at the end of chapters all the time. (At least in the first drafts. I can always tell when I was tired when I was writing because there's usually a sudden influx in blankets somewhere in the scene.)

But really, I am not good at dissecting paragraphs. I took a workshop several years ago dealing with "Scenes and Sequels" and it was all about using beats and that sort of thing...and I bailed out of it about three lessons in. It's not that it wasn't interesting - it was. I just couldn't wrap my head around it for my own writing - it became far too much work and sucked all the joy out of creating.

So, I guess I just do scenes by instinct these days. I mostly write in 1st, so cutting up scenes for different pov isn't as big of a deal. It's more about making sure the story moves forward at the pace it needs to be told.

That being said, because I panster my way through things, it can become fairly evident when my scenes aren't going where they need to. I know it because my characters end up becoming "fidgety." Lots of head cocking and fingers thrusting through hair or random small talk dialogue that goes no-where. Fine for a first draft, but that sort of excess can really bog a scene down, so I tend to strip most of that out when I go back for revisions.

(Funny, too - those extra bits become a slog to write as well, usually because the scene is floundering. Once I get back on the right track - presto! Everyone suddenly gets far more interested in what's supposed to be happening.)

Now, as far as resources go for this type of writing, I've heard a number of people swear by "Save the
Cat" - there are several books and workshops based off this series. It's actually more for writing screenplays, but when it comes to scenes and beats, the concept is very similar.

Yes, I own it.

No, I haven't been able to read past the first chapter. (I did try, though. Someone else is going to have to save the kitties.)


  1. Ha, sounds like a couple of highly recommended writing books I have...and read close to the frist few chapters. Guess I follow enough writing blogs that give out the same info ;)

    Congrats on Carniepunk!!