Does This Bit Work?

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
It's difficult to find an objective position to judge one's own work. Sure, you can edit your manuscript multiple times, to a point where you're satisfied that the punctuation, grammar and formatting are as good as you can make them. Repeated words and flowery phrases can be eradicated. Less is always more—unless it causes confusion over what's being described.

You might feel that your plotting and characterisation combine effectively to work as an entertaining story, but the really hard part is deciding whether individual scenes within that tale work in the way that you intended. Is that fight scene believable...a violent act can be over in a moment, so how much space should you devote to it—and should there be room for the combatants' thoughts or is it all action?

What about a verbal argument...can it be conveyed through speech alone, or would some subtle description of body language add to the mood? In times of stress, people use emotive language they'd normally avoid, including swear words—how much of that should you put in—you don't want to create perfectly polite rows do you?

As for passionate scenes, four letter words bellow to be used! :oops: It pays to remember that it's your characters who are doing and saying these things, and they need to stay true to themselves and not be censored by you, the omnipotent creator. I'm talking to myself here, as I'm about to write a love-making scene this evening, attempting to judge the balance between keeping things warm and loving and phwoar lubricious!

Gauging my own emotional response to stories I've written is aided by that oft-give piece of writing advice—putting the manuscript away in a drawer for a while before re-reading it as a relative stranger. Reading my old stories, I've had a sense of dread, knowing a character is about to be murdered, been amused when a socially inept dope says the wrong thing at the wrong moment, and moved by a widowed protagonist finding his recently deceased wife's hair brush containing strands of her hair.

If I've been affected by something that I wrote myself, then it might work for others. I think that readers remember specific scenes more than they're able to recall the overall plot, the characters' names, book title or the name of the author!

Staying motivated as authors is helped by having these little moments of self-congratulation, when you realise that you might be onto something after all, with this writing lark.

Have you written any particular scenes you're proud of?

Were they naughty, violent, funny or edge-of-the-seat tense?

Did any of your readers notice your favourite scenes?

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