Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thinking Out Scenes

What goes into creating a scene for you? Do you outline it? Play it out in your head? Just sit down and type?

Whenever my mind wanders, I find myself imagining new scenes for my characters. I get so excited about the scene, I'll start it over and over again, relishing in that delicious feeling of something new, something emotional.

But here's the thing: I never let myself finish the scene in my head. In fact, I usually only play the first few sentences. Again and again and again.

For some reason, the first time I think/play it out is the best time. I've played out entire scenes before, loving every minute of it, and then sat down to write it. Only to have it not turn out as good. So now, I don't let myself finish playing out the scene. I know where it's going, but it's not until I sit down at the computer that I let the scene come to life. I let the characters finish it.

It's like the first time is the best time.

It reminds me of one time in college. For fun, my ward (church group) was making mini-videos and having a competition. Everyone who wanted to participate was put into a team. We only had two weeks, so it was pretty impromptu. One night we all gathered in an apartment and just videotaped our movie. No scripts, just prompts.

I was cast as the unhappy fiance. My fiance and I had a screaming break up fight, and then a lovely make up scene later. It was great. Off-screen, my team was holding back the laughter. We finished, ecstatic, and went to watch it--only to discover that Camera Dude had been filming the carpet the whole time.


We re-taped it. And my fiance and I tried, really tried, to capture the exact essence and wording of the first time. It fell flat. We couldn't repeat what we had done so perfectly without trying.

That's how writing is for me. At least, writing new scenes. (Editing is a different beast entirely.)

What about the rest of you? Can you relate? Or is it totally different?


David J. West said...

I never outline anything. I think about what I want to do-brainstorm abit-maybe jot down single sentence notes for later and then just dive in and see where it goes.

The ending for a recent novellette I did turned out completely different that what I had originally intended-I'm sure for the best.

Sara ♥ said...

I think of the "big" things that I want to happen in a scene... Then I write to and past them. It works... sometimes, ha!

But I can definitely relate to your story - the first time is always the freshest and the best... It's really hard to recapture the moment.

I think there are a lot of things like that in life! (I ate a meal once and swore it was the BEST thing I'd ever had... went back to the restaurant - have been three times now - and it wasn't the same, at ALL.)

Cindy said...

I think it's interesting you don't let yourself finish the scene. I think about scenes all the time, particularly when I am trying to fall asleep at night. I usually go over the beginning a lot and sometimes make it through to the end. Mostly I just know a general idea of what's going to happen--whether it's happy or a cliffhanger, etc.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

David--that's pretty much what I do before I write a book. But I call it my outline. Ha ha.

Sara--oh no! that makes me wonder if the memory I have of the best meal ever really was the best meal ever! Someday I'll make it back to Utah and try it again...

Cindy--I hate going to bed.I never sleep. I just waste time. Grrr.

LMJ said...

I usually daydream the scene and try different scenarios; see which one I like best.

Aaron and Emily said...

Tamara, this story brings me back to our FHE talent show activity, "arrow in the gut." I know it is something your family always does, but to us roomies of yours, it was totally new, and according to you we weren't supposed to practice it at all - we only discussed quickly what we were going to do. Do you remember how great we were? The hit of the talent show. I felt like everyone was rolling out of their seats, dying with laughter. And it was all impromptu, since you told us it would be better that way!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Emily: You're right! I totally forgot about that! ah, how funny! I would PAY to know who has a copy of that video!

I guess I had that philosophy even then. The first time is the best.

PS you remember the video contest, right???

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I have to just put pen to paper and write through the pain, the knowing how bad it is, the not knowing where I'm going with it or even if it makes any sense, the wishing I were doing something, anything else besides struggling with the first draft.

That's first draft--revisions are a different feeling entirely.

Aaron and Emily said...


How much will you pay me? (J/k) I've got a copy. I must've handed someone my video camera. I thought I copied it for you a long time ago?

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Em--oh, you probably did. And then I went on a mission and lost almost everything I ever owned. :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

I think about scenes all the time. Sometimes I'll think of a scene that has nothing to do with anything I'm working on, but I love it so much I have to write it down, save it until it makes sense to use. I've got these fragmented scenes in a folder that will hopefully fit in somewhere someday!

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