Making Every Scene Count

Best scene of conflict from Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice filmed here (Temple of Apollo, Stourhead).

This is a (thank God–I know) short entry. I want to work on this today in my writing so I figured, why not share.

Conflict: does each scene have it? I know mine don’t. I’m revising for about the 800th time, but in this case, changing tense. The finish line is in sight, and I’ve been catching a typos & extra words so I’ve been doing more tightening. Some days I feel like every time I read my MS I change something on each page. But I really do need to let go and move on after this. My other WIP is calling my name and feeling left out!

I read a few articles awhile ago about conflict, and how each scene needs to have it. In the books I’ve been reading recently, I see that even talented, published authors manage to struggle with this. Some scenes just contain a funny anecdote along the way, so I wonder how relevant/necessary these are. Entertaining, sure, but necessary? Especially for someone trying to cut the fat off her MS?

Some writers are amazing at this. It sounds simple–make every scene count. A story doesn’t exist without obstacles. But when you’re so close to a manuscript, it’s really hard to see whether a scene is necessary or if it’s just been around so long, you can’t imagine it not there. If it doesn’t add anything to the character’s struggle or journey, or is just a pretty description of one day in his/her journey, it needs to go, say the experts.

So my goal for the rest of the week, finishing this round of revisions, is to focus solely on how each scene serves the story. If it’s not helping my MC reach her goal, or exposing new hurdles, or exposing character traits, it’s out.

Though I’d love to know any great tips on just *how* to objectively look at a scene. When you’ve read it 300 times, how do you distance yourself enough to ask, “Does this have conflict? Does this MATTER, really?” It’s not easy! Maybe there are other, better questions to ask when reading through each scene.

I’ll let you know how I get on by the end of the week 🙂 Happy Leap Year Day!

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