Enter Scene Playground
Sometimes I cheat on my WIP (work in progress) by having a little side-action fun in my scene playground. Wow, that sounds tawdry.
It isn’t. Not really. Okay, sometimes it edges over the line into a dirty, little practice. But, that’s okay. Every writer needs a fun, free place for her writer-gnomes to play. Mine happens to be a file on my computer called Scene Playground—the place where I dish out all the fun stuff I want to write but haven’t exactly earned permission yet.
Whether you’re an outliner—someone who extensively maps out her story before writing and sticks to the master plan—or a pantser—one who sits down at the computer to write and lets the story unfold as it may—or any combo of the two, anyone can benefit from an excursion to the scene playground. It’s a break from everyday writing rigors that motivates writing and gives a clearer view of the path ahead.
When writing a novel or a series of novels, it’s very linear. You write scene A to get to scene B and so on, the story goes. But not every scene is kickass or awesome, however perfectly it’s written. Some scenes are just stepping stones to get to the sloppy kiss or devilish murderer or confession or drop-the-curtain reveal or fist-throwing fight. While all scenes (should) matter in a book (and if it doesn’t, you should remove it), not all scenes get the writer-gnomes moving and shaking in your head or your fingers tapping crazily on the keyboard.
But, in your creative writer’s eye, you see ahead. That delectable end-game plays out in your mind, and you want to write it so badly, your fingers twitch and your writer-gnomes cry out, “Please!” Only, you have so many fluffy details to get through first. It’s not time for the end-game, yet. Or… is it?
Enter SCENE PLAYGROUND.
It's your safe, free place. Start tapping away. Pick the big, curly font, eighteen point, if you want. It’s the playground. Anything goes. Hell, write that scene in red, if it makes you feel sassy. As long as you jump ahead to the fight or reunion or face-off—whatever scene that’s exciting your gnomes—you can break all the rules.
And it’s a good thing—letting inspiration lead you. Sometimes, skipping a few chapters and writing what you want can bust through writer’s block. Hard. The action unfolding in your head becomes more real on the page, allowing you to conceptualize it better. Knowing how that hot, suspenseful, heartbreaking, action-packed scene could play out will help you create those fluffy scenes to get there.
Bonus… in the scene playground, you can write that scene seven ways, if you want to. You can skip around from face-off to the sloppy kiss just like you’d go from the swing to the slides. It doesn’t have to be A to B to C. It doesn’t need to make sense. Freed from that linear path, really great writing can happen and new ideas could form. You don’t have to make a sandcastle in the sandbox. You could make a dungeon or a treehouse or, hell, a stick swamp where the characters eat mud pies. Stepping outside the box of your manuscript might inspire more creativity.
What if she doesn’t end up with the hunky neighbor with the bedroom eyes, but that asshole at work?
What if the face-off is upended by that nosy neighbor down the hall?
What if it’s not just Rosalind discovering Orlando’s secret, but everyone at The Children of Light meeting?
What if her stalker ends up being someone she never suspected? Or better yet, she doesn’t have a stalker at all…she’s stalking herself!
Time in the scene playground could not only give you a happy reprieve from the every day or break through writer’s block or offer fresh ideas, it could help you raise the stakes. And you know, that’s usually a great idea.
Course, there’s a downside, too. Like with anything fun and daring… time in the scene playground could come at a price.
The scene playground is an alluring place. It’s easy to get trapped there, creating all the sexy scenes without working on the necessary ones. Treating the scene playground as a guilty pleasure and spending too much time there could result in little to no progress on your novel.
Visit the playground. Have your fun. But then, get back to work. The Scene Playground is for breaks, not benders.
Also, be warned. There’s a high probability that you can’t use most of the words you produce there. Jumping ahead runs the risk that by the time you actually get there the old-fashioned way (A to B to C), the story might be different, and your words useless because they don’t apply anymore. The scene might play out differently than the way you imagined it during your playtime. And that means… writing it again.
But, if it’s the kickass scene you couldn’t wait to write then, it should be even more now. So, that’s not a bad thing.
It’s only bad when you let your writer-gnomes have TOO MUCH fun.
Confession time… my scene playground for my Delilah Duffy series was sixty-thousand words strong by the third book and most of it was useless—except that those “wasted” words got me to where I needed to be, eventually. Sometimes, I revisit it even though the first three books are published, just to enjoy where the story could’ve gone.
So, enjoy the scene playground, but use it appropriately. Limit your time there. And get back to your WIP ASAP.
Now, back to my regularly scheduled programming at my regular desk… or maybe I’ll just peek inside my Scene Playground for a few minutes… for old time’s sake.
Meanwhile, three days later....
Save me from the trap of my scene playground. So, anyone else have a writer's guilty pleasure to share? Or something? Anything?