Author doubts never go away. I think that’s been why I’ve been struggling with–what do they call it? Second book blues? The book two curse? Fear of book two not being as good as book one?
After seven first drafts, I think I have it figured out. Oh, and taking a novel-writing class helps, too. Especially my latest assignment: a set-piece scene. A set-piece scene is one that sets the tone, and includes conflict, emotion, and the senses. It’s a memorable scene that might be the midpoint crisis, or the climax, or at any point in the book.
The class example of a set-piece scene was the circus scene from Water for Elephants, where all hell breaks loose, the animals start stampeding, and the ringmaster gets … well, no spoilers.
I wanted to get something to my writing teacher before she left on vacation, so I tried to figure out what scene in my WIP would be considered a set-piece scene, or rather, what scene could I write that could be considered a set-piece scene.
I took a walk to ponder the possibilities, and came up with something I thought would work. It’s near the midpoint of the story, and puts my main character in danger.
Here’s the weird part: I drafted the scene, looked at it the next morning and tweaked it a bit, then submitted it. The verdict? Yes, it was a set-piece scene, and it was pretty good, too. I can feel the creative energy coming back.
“Because you listened to me, love.” My Muse, who has been keeping one of the recliners in a corner of my writing office warm, sets his crossword puzzle aside. Apparently his pub crawl buddies are all busy.
“I’m writing, and you’re doing crosswords? Seriously?”
He taps a temple with his pen. “Keeps the mind sharp.”
“Oh? American or Australian crosswords?”
“British. I like a challenge.”
Which is probably why he hasn’t given up on me yet.
He levers himself out of the chair and crosses my office, shoving the cuffs of his long-sleeved t-shirt to his elbows. The royal blue of the t-shirt almost coordinates with his purple Vikings helmet-covered lounge pants. I feel like I should microwave some popcorn and put in a movie, ala slumber party.
“I won’t give up on you, love. And after you went through the feedback from your Writing Sisters again, you’ve been much more receptive to my suggestions. You’re starting the revisions now, right?” He shakes a finger at me to emphasize his point. “Don’t get hung up on the revisions. You know better. Revise what you need to and keep going.”
“My next homework is an outline. I want to have that done by the time my teacher is back from vacation. And I have another bookstore signing tomorrow.”
He wraps an arm around my shoulders. “Don’t worry about the outline. That’s a piece of cake. You’re getting your momentum back.” He squeezes, and plants a kiss on my forehead. “Keep it up, love. You’re doing good.”
I feel better about the story. That set-piece scene kicked off some other ideas that for some reason hadn’t been apparent to me before. And the changes will give a stronger motive to one of the characters; it’ll make his actions much more believable.
This is the part about writing I really like, the creative energy that makes me want to find a nice quiet place and do nothing but write without worrying about anything else.
Enjoy one of the last weekends of summer!