In Late, Out Early

After several days without power, internet, or both, I’m back!  I didn’t get as much writing done this time as last time.  I did, however, handwrite a blog entry, which I’ve typed up below:

In late, out early has turned into one of my mantras.  It basically translates into “hew your scenes close to the conflict.”  When I start a scene or a chapter and I find myself frustrated with how it is progressing, or failing to progress, it’s usually because I violated this rule.  It never hurts to step back and ask myself, where is the conflict in this chapter?  Where is it really?  If I discover that the start of the chapter is nowhere near the conflict, it’s time to scrap it and start over.

This doesn’t mean that every chapter revolves around a fight scene.  Sometimes the conflict is character versus environment, or character versus self, or character versus circumstance.  It really depends on how the scene is supposed to be moving the story along.

Just yesterday, I was writing a dialogue scene between the two PoV characters.  It was flowing along marvelously, and it pertained to something I had recently researched so I was interested in where the conversation was going.  But when I pulled up what I’d written today at lunch to continue where I left off, I hated it.  It was an interesting conversations, and the characters were great.  But it was two or three pages of text that didn’t do anything.  There was no conflict or conflict resolution.  All it did was establish that I had researched something and knew what I was talking about.

I had to scrap it.  I never really fully delete anything, but I excised it from the manuscript and put it into my wiki instead.  And then I thought about where the conflict was, and I started the chapter over where I should have started it in the first place.  The dialogue would have led me there eventually, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as clean.  The death of that dialogue hurts in some ways, because it was good and I spent time writing it.  But the story’s better without it.

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