Shar 3: Beating Out A Scene

Lani’s cleaning house today, Krissie’s pedal to the metal on a borrowed computer she hates, and I’m grocery shopping and trying to figure out my last scene in this act.

I am getting a lot done, I think, but it’s because it’s a collaboration. If I get stuck, I go in to Campfire and yell, “Help!” (because if I yell “Fire” nobody comes), and Lani or Krissie or both log on and we talk it out. Plus I owe these women. If I zone out in a panic attack, they can’t move forward. Collaborating really speeds up my process.

But now I have an elide and a scene to write to finish out this act, and it’s not the big finish, Daisy gets that one, and it has to do several things:

It has to complete Shar’s arc of getting to know and getting comfortable with her powers.

It has to foreshadow the end of Act Three because I wrote a piece of scene that does that and we rearranged the book so that it works better that way.

It has to arc the romance, which right now is sprained because she won’t sleep with him and while she has some good reasons, the guy’s a god and he wants her and he’s a sweetheart to boot. I’m not contriving the conflict, I really think she wouldn’t, but I haven’t got it on the page yet.

It has to be about painting a mural and naming a coffee house.

It has to get in some back story that’s Lani’s been sniping at me for. (I hate back story.)

And about forty other things I don’t remember.

But first, I went to the grocery and got stuff to make cookies. For the book. No, really. Then I came home and Campfired with Krissie for awhile with the dogs curled up on the bed. I bought them chew toys at the grocery, but Milton ate a Dick Blick catalog instead. And then I tried to block out the beats for tomorrow’s scene.

So what are beats? They’re units of conflict within a scene, scenettes, if you like.

In the scene I wrote yesterday, the first beat is Shar walking home with Sam, arguing with him.

Then something happens, a mini turning point, and they have to deal with a problem, and she’d have to be a heartless bitch not to stop arguing and help, so the second beat is them working together and him doing everything right, even though she’s still angry with him. This second beat has higher stakes because she still has good reason to be leery of him, but he’s really admirable. So now she’s torn.

Then something happens, another turning point, and the stakes in the scene get higher for her, she’s more tempted to relent, and she acts to escape, which deepens her knowledge of Sam and makes things more difficult for her.

When that beat breaks, she moves away, trying to solve her problem, and her solution actually leads to an even more intimate connection that ends when she finally walks away, terrified, but changed from who she was at the beginning of the scene, in conjunction with the way their relationship has changed.

I need to go back and make sure that both Shar and the relationship arc through those four beats. Also Sam, also Wolfie, and Shar’s use of her powers. Each one of those beats has a microscopic shift in it for all five of those story aspects. And they all have to be well-motivated.

But I’ll do that in the rewrite, not in the first draft.

So I have beats for tomorrow’s scene sketched in: Shar painting the mural and arguing with Daisy, Shar using her powers to help Abby and pointing out the problem with that to Daisy, and then the break-in which is not Shar vs. Daisy, but I can figure that out–but what I really worked on tonight was the elide. It’s shorter but trickier than a scene, and mine is actually way too long, but I’m going to leave it like that until I get the whole act done–tomorrow!–in rough and I can see where I’m repeating and what the reader doesn’t need to know. I love writing this fast, it keeps it so fresh, but I think it only works in collaborations. I can do 40,000 words this way, but I don’t think I can do 100.

2020 Note: Try “segue” for “elide.” It’s really a slide/transition kind of thing. Anyway, don’t get hung up on it. I babble.

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