28 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Scenes

  1. My favorite scenes are the ones you write and when you read it over later you’re like “dang, that’s good!” 😎 because that usually means they won’t need as much heavy revision.

    Hardest to write: Hmm…still learning it all but would say fight scenes or any scenes where there’s a lot of action going on. You have to pick and choose your details carefully and it’s not always easy to see how much is too much.

    • I remember when my first Blackthorne book was with the editor. Me, not being a “fight secene person”, had written something like, “after an interminable time, which according to Dalton, was only seven minutes, the shooting stopped…”
      She came back and said, “I want to see those seven minutes on the page.”
      That was a huge challenge for me. I was fortunate to have military contacts who could give my characters “real stuff” to do during that time.

      • Fight scenes are hard to get right, but so worth it when you do. Many things involved, esp. the craft of “slo-mo”. I was amused once reading a page and a half of a Reacher in which Child explained what was going on in the millisecond Reacher threw a punch!

  2. As a non confrontational Type of person, I find the ultimate climax scenes most difficult to write. I win e and cringe my way through them every time.

    • I’m not good at those, either. I think the last scenes of books are difficult because they have to leave a reader satisfied but wanting more.

  3. Great questions. My favorites to write are interaction scenes where there’s a significant change in the relationship between two characters.

    Action scenes are the most difficult for me. As BK says, choosing the right details and deciding “how much is too much” are challenges. That’s when I turn to my critique group for objective feedback.

    • Having people you can trust is always a boon. For fight scenes, I usually go to my daughter with her ju-jitsu background and have her choreograph the scene. I tell her character sizes, weapons they have, who has to win, and whether there are any injuries. After she gives me the moves, I try to put it into semi-decent prose.

  4. I like to write interaction with lots of dialogue, short and snappy, off-the-nose. Unfortunately, I’m not good at it yet. But maybe, fortunately, because I have to practice it…a lot.

    I like to write the deep stuff between people, the stuff that builds up over decades like the Great Wall of China, then comes tumbling down with the mention of one word. Soon the chinks of light begin to show through.

    The hardest for me are transitions…getting my characters from point A to point B, and with a good reason my reader won’t question. *Sigh* I know why, but it has to make sense.

    • I love throwing my characters into a room and listening to them talk. My process: get the words first. Add all the beats and tags later.
      Going deep is hard for me–I admire those who can dig into their emotional bank and be willing to let it show.
      Many, many, many of my nightly printouts have big red Ts signifying I need a better transition.

    • I’m with you. Transitions are hard. I visualize action scenes, love scenes, and I love writing dialog (if I could I would do all dialog. Maybe I should write a play!), but transitions – phew – the indispensable point A to point B, can we just go beam me up, Scotty?

  5. Action scenes, always. I love explosions, danger, dangling from heights, and fight choreography. (Ask me about the writing panel I did with a bunch of military science fiction writers at a con panel if you need a funny, snarky story.)

    Weirdly hard, love/sex scenes since I primarily wrote romance. Intimate emotion and physicality within a very specialized limit of what I could and couldn’t say and yet not just spout cliches as well as make it individualized to each character and couple is brutal writing and rewriting and rewriting.

    • I’d love to hear your story, Marilynn, and I’ll bet other TKZers would as well.
      I write a lot of romantic suspense, and I prefer to stress the emotional side. Everyone understands the mechanics. Vocabulary can be tricky, too–one reader’s “ick” word might be perfectly acceptable to others.
      I’ve found that the more romances I write, the shorter and less-frequent the sex scenes have become.

      • The amount of sex and the detail depend on the market and reader expectations. I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s ROMANTIC suspense and romantic suspense out there. Okay, the story.

        The meeting room at the science fiction convention, Stellarcon, began to fill up with people. At the front of the room, the authors who would be discussing writing fight and combat scenes sat behind a table.

        With one exception, the authors wrote military science fiction and were former military officers — big, dangerous looking guys with enough military expertise and experience to take over a small nation.

        Then there was me— a very short, plump, female with graying hair and a kindly face. I could see people in the audience looking at me then at all those guys with their military haircuts, than back to me, and I could tell they were thinking, “What is a hobbit matron doing up there?”

        The moderator started off with a question. “If you were in a dark alley with someone dangerous in front of you, what weapon would you like to have?”

        Knives and guns of many calibers were described with loving detail by the men, then it was my turn.

        “I’m a writer. My best weapons are my brain, imagination, and research. I’d imagine the Terminator and send him into that dark alley. Or I’d send these guys in.”

        The crowd roared with laughter.

        Later, I proved that this hobbit matron could wield an imaginary sword or gun, create wizard battles, fly starships into danger, and manage any kind of physical mayhem required in a story. To quote my favorite short guy, Yoda, “Judge me by my size, do you?”

        • Oh, love this! I was walking down a dark street one night and wondering what I’d do if a big guy came at me. Of course I had the car keys in between my fingers, ready for a stab, but the best weapon, I thought, was that binder from the office, with the metal-reinforced corners. Luckily, I never had to test the validity of the concept. I might use it in a story one day…

    • Thanks — I’m working on one on transitions for my next post. 🙂

  6. Hi, Terry

    Interaction scenes are my favorites to write. I love the byplay and back and forth between characters, the emotions simmering under the surface, the secrets. I can go on in these, though, so usually have to trim in revision 🙂

    I also enjoy writing action scenes, but mine tend to be short and punchy–I don’t like long and drawn out. My model is Robert Parker’s Spenser novels and his Westerns. Appaloosa has visceral action scenes which are also very quick.

    Climaxes and ending scenes are hardest for me–I tend to want to rush them. I worked on this in my most recent published novel, which just came out last month, but I’ve by no means mastered it. I second Marilynn’s comment above about the hardest/worst thing to write being great fodder for a future post. Thanks for writing this one!

    • Thanks, Dale.
      When I’m reading, I want to get to ‘the end’ but then I don’t, because the book will be over.
      Often the same when I’m writing, but for different reasons.

  7. I feel pretty good about openings and transitions, and I’m getting better at interactions and dialogue; it’s endings and backstory w/o info dumping that is a challenge…

    Fortunately, KZB and all y’all contributing are helping me see, if not immediately address, these challenges, ER, opportunities~

    Stay safe~ ?

    • Info dumps — so easy to write, yet so unnecessary. My internal question is “Does the reader need to know this?” followed by “Does the reader need to know this NOW?”

  8. Mainly because of this site and one other, I love opening scenes and getting every word right, setting the mood for the rest of the story.
    A couple of days ago, a new idea shoved its way into my ‘story idea processing center’. I had to write the first few lines to get it out of my head:

    In the winter of her fourteenth year, Melinda killed a person for the first time. She seduced a drunk bald man with a promise of sex. When she reached up to put her arms around his neck, she smiled as if she was going to kiss him, but didn’t. She bit down on his carotid artery and began draining blood from his body. He struggled at first.

    Still needs work but I can go back to my WIP.

    • Thanks for sharing, Brian. (Although the snarky side of me–sorry–immediately wondered if Melinda killed that person a second time.)
      But I get it–it’s kind of like when you can’t start writing until you’ve checked your email because you KNOW there’s something important in there.
      Enjoy getting back to the WIP.

  9. The hardest type of scene? When I need my heroes to escape and I’ve left them no means to do so, or I’ve written twenty chapters without understanding what the villain’s deal is and I need to be absolutely clear in my mind before I write the very next paragraph, or when things have been quiet for too long and there’s a sudden knock on the door and I don’t for the life of me know who it is.

    My favorite kind of scenes? See above. When it all comes together … somehow … it’s a great feeling.

    • I know the feeling, Robert! In the current WIP, I finally realized there was no way for what I had thought would happen to happen, so I took another road. Which I like better.

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