There’s a pretty specific process to how I write scenes.
When I begin work on a manuscript, I usually have a really vague plot for the entire piece, a more specific plot outline for the story arc I’m in, and a really, really specific outline and ideas for the scenes I’m actually writing.
The first stage might look something like this note card (an overview of themes in my WIP, Blessings):
My brain works best when I talk each of these stages out with people. At the moment, my sister, Laura, is the lucky one who gets to hear me go endlessly on about my plot. (This is in part because she knows I will take my turn to hear her go endlessly on about her comic, The Silver Eye.)
I’ve been thinking about investing in a skull, a la Sherlock Holmes, to take over this duty. Really I just need to talk at something that occasionally responds to me. (An electronic skull, maybe?)
For the following example, you need to know:
Vel (Velimir) = Hero/Romantic Interest
Melle = Female protagonist
Piran = Lord of Winter in the faerie realm (baddie)
Cake = A thing which you eat in the faerie realm that will trap you there forever/alternatively turn you into ash if you try to leave (not good)
So! Once the scene is approaching, I take what I know and discuss it with Laura, generally over Facebook chat. This is what it might look like:
Me: So then Piran comes to Melle and is like, “Here’s the dealio. I’ve got your true name. I’mma gonna make you learn mine. Then we’re going to get married and live here forever. Cool?” (lol cool) And she’s like, “NOT COOL. NOT EVEN A LITTLE.” And he’s all, “Welp, I’ve got your prince in my dungeons and he doesn’t have any of your food with him, so maybe I’ll just send him a cake and it can sit with him in there.”
Laura: ~Cake~ …Vel: <-<
~Cake~*lick* <u< >3>~Cake~
Me: So Vel’s like “oh crap this isn’t good” and Corryn breaks him out and is all “I can’t help you because of reasons.” … So then Vel rushes into the main hall where Melle is with Piran and… something happens.
Occasionally, my sister gets particularly inspired and will make a little comic from this conversation to help me:
With this helpful and hilarious chat to refer to, I then make a For Serious Outline. This is sort of sad, because it means I have to weed out the funny and be professional. There are always things I sort of liked in the chat stage that don’t get to make it to the outline stage. Oh well.
An outline might look like this:
4 (days 10-11): Capture and Escape
- Vel and Melle run into the hot faerie’s gang and are taken. Vel’s put in some sort of prison. Melle’s treated well.
- Unknowing to Melle, she gets tricked into agreeing to marry the faerie.
- Vel has nightmare about Luc; his pocket watch breaks
- Corryn (who’s been keeping an eye out), with the help of fox, helps Vel escape. Tells Vel he’s Melle’s father. Explains what Melle’s done, and that he can only help from behind the scenes—it’s really up to Vel to get her out. Vel and he make another uneasy alliance to save Melle.
- Melle realizes just before the “wedding” what’s what and freaks out, refuses. The faerie is dangerously offended that she would break her word and threatens to give Vel a feast or somesuch. She’s torn, doesn’t know what to do, very alone
- Vel comes and busts some clever moves. Wins or steals her out? Uses his blessings in some way?
- Vel confronts/overcomes who he is (in a large part), Melle is empowered knowing that she isn’t alone/is worth something/her loyalty’s returned, they tag team andddd:
- They get out!
From there, I go into rough draft. Here’s an excerpt of that:
“…The faerie tricked her into giving up three of her four most precious memories, memories of what Melle holds dearest—safety, loyalty, belonging. But she didn’t get the last one.”
“What was that?” Velimir asked.
“Love,” said Corryn, looking a little disgusted. “All the other memories were tied up in Melle’s shepherd friend. Morvana [other baddie] assumed ‘love’ would also have something to do with him, but Melle’s changed since then. You’re her last memory, Velimir. If you don’t get her out, and fast, you’re going to be the reason she is trapped here forever.”
I would then take the rough draft and edit it approximately 20.4 times, which I haven’t done yet, because I got excited and decided to blog instead of editing. That’s just how I roll.
And that, my friends, is the bizarre and probably unhelpful way that I write a scene. A practice I should be working on right now, instead of writing this entry.
Bonus (deleted scene!):
Me: So the crow says, “Get a move on this whole trapping the prince biz or else we’re gonna give [her] to the hottie with a body lord of winter. Hahaha.”
Laura: Make the crow say that. I will pay you five bucks if that gets published.
Me: I don’t think it will be published if that’s in there.