Rewriting Double Scene Sequences, Part One

So. The next chunk. It’s boring.

That’s not exactly true, Nita almost gets killed, so that’s good, but there’s still too much chat. (I love dialogue.) And Nick’s stuff is deadly dull. The structure doesn’t help; it’s two scene sequences spliced together which insures that one of those sequences will be annoying because it’ll take people away from the one they liked. So here’s what I need to do:

1. Take the scenes out of the draft and separate them into Nita/Button PoV scenes in one file and Nick scenes in the other.
2. Read the Nita scenes as one scene (even though they switch PoVs; I’ll cut them apart again later) to make sure that while they each are scenes in and of themselves (protagonist, antagonist, goals, conflict, climax), they also work as a whole. Also make some key content changes that I realized I needed as I worked through the draft.
3. Take the Nick scenes apart completely and divide them into two conversations–Nick vs. Dag and then Nick vs. Rab–showcasing the personalities of Dag and Rab and their relationships with Nick and showing Nick as a leader/mentor. And also the beginning of his changes. Make sure they are each complete scenes, and then make sure they work together.
4. And then the tricky part.

I need to splice these two scene sequences together because they happen simultaneously in order to keep the sense of place and time simple. But if I do that, then the combined sequences also have to work as a whole (see the bit about annoying the reader above). So I also have to work in transitions from Button’s scene to the Nick/Dag scene, to the Nita scene, to Nick/Rab scene, to the Nita/Mort scene. I have to, somehow, make what’s happening in Nita’s scenes relevant to what’s happening in Nick’s scenes, and vice versa.

This is taking some thought. I can do it, I just have to think it through. And cut a lot of stuff. And write some new stuff. That’s about 8000 words I have to wrestle into shape. I’m on it.


27 thoughts on “Rewriting Double Scene Sequences, Part One

  1. Luckily enough, we like dialog too. And complex simultaneous scenes — whoo, baby. You are *such* the ruthless rewriter.

    1. Yes – but I devour it again and again, for years and years. Of course, she ought to get repeat fees, as they do for TV programmes. She’d probably be a millionaire.

      1. Honestly, buying them once is more than enough. You all are what keep the stories alive. I should be paying you maintenance fees.

        1. I usually buy extras – for my mom, sister, grandma, friends….I basically give your books to all the people. I’m trying to do my part because I love them so much.

      2. Well, I have all your books in print, in digital, and some in audiobook. So I try to help!!

  2. By the way, do you realize this post has no title? I thought ‘Untitled’ meant you were wrestling with a title for Nita’s book, but it seems not.

  3. I’ve just been explaining your truck draft concept to my eleven year old son, who is wrestling with his latest school project. It’s been helpful to him, so thank you!

  4. Yeah. I re-read too.

    It is just that feel I need to develop patience so that I can savour the words.

  5. I think by watching you write Nita’s book that I will appreciate your previous work more, knowing how much effort into it.

  6. I have a 40-minute drive each way to work, so I listen to my books these days. I lost count how many times I’ve listened to your books. Especially Agnes and the Hitman, Dogs and Goddesses, Wild Ride and Maybe This Time. Listening to Krissie’s books right now.

  7. A very good friend just sent me the three books in the Shades of Magic series by VE Schwab (really, a wonderful friend). I liked them very much. I also devoured them at high speed (and am paying for the 4am finish), which seems unfair now that you have shown us how much work goes into every scene.

    Question (but not a questionable): Is this the way you have always written fiction, or has your process changed since you first started writing?

    And finally, this is another good friend of mine (I really am lucky in my friends). She puts messages, poetry, things that you might need reminded of every time you look down on silver – as rings or bracelets. Maybe relevant while you contemplate the new tattoo. If you are interested, click on galleries/poetry and koru.

    1. I knew nothing about writing fiction when I started. I knew a lot ABOUT fiction, I had an MA in literature and had done the coursework for a PhD in the same field, but knowing how to analyze literature and how to write story are two entirely different things. I had started a book during my divorce in 1981 and then put it to one side because it was more about me trying to get through my divorce than it was about writing a story I wanted to write. And then in 1991, while I was researching my dissertation on how gender affects the way people write, I read a lot of romance novels and thought, “I want to write this.” I tried resurrecting that divorce book, but it was just beyond me. Then I tried writing a formula romance and hated it and abandoned it. Then I thought, “Screw this,” and wrote the kind of book I wanted to write. It was a mess, but then I saw a contest for a novella, so I took that formula romance that I’d abandoned, slapped an ending on it, and sent it in. It won one of twelve spots and was published as Sizzle. They asked if I had anything else and I sent them Keeping Kate, the romance I’d finished. They rejected it, but they asked if they could send it to an editor at a sister house who was known as a book doctor. That was Sherie Posesorski who said, “You don’t know how to structure a story.” She showed me how to fix the mess that was my book and published it as Manhunting.

      And I thought, “I have to learn to do this right.” That was 1993. I’ve been studying ever since. You never stop learning, there’s a learning curve on every book. And because I’m not a natural storyteller, because I have to work this hard to get the story right, it makes me a better teacher. I remember when I was getting my first degree in teaching, somebody told me that the best teacher of a subject was somebody who got C’s in it in high school. The people who have a natural aptitude for something can’t teach it because they never had to learn it. The people who have to struggle to learn something know the paths to learning it because they took them. That’s me and writing. And with every book, I find more paths.

      Short Answer: My process has changed a lot.

      Edited to add: The book about my divorce became Tell Me Lies, published about twenty years after I started it.

      1. I disagree about your friend’s teaching comment. Some of us breezed through school but still work really hard to communicate concepts to students.

        Your teaching is great. Maybe partly because of how you work but also because of how you’re able to communicate it. Not everyone who tries to teach can explain stuff well. You can. It’s wonderful.

        1. Yes – I thought I was supposed to be a teacher, because at school I was always having to explain the lesson we’d just had/homework we’d been set to others. But that skill comes in handy when you’re editing non-fiction books, too (plus a certain psychic talent, to intuit what the author’s trying to say when the text makes no sense).

          But I did fail to help my brother with maths: I just couldn’t understand what he couldn’t understand. (And I still think the real problem was that he’d decided he couldn’t do it, and so completely switched off.)

      2. You are just the best, you know that? Your answer was interesting, personal, and helpful. Thank you.

  8. I like dialogue too.

    I like it a lot. I also know from previous books that ONCE YOU FINISH, you’re going to go back and rewrite half of it anyway.

    So, is there any possibility of you waiting until you’re done to tear this part apart?

    Since you’re going to do it again anyway?

    Just a snarky suggestion.

    1. Not snarky at all. It’s very good advice.

      The problem is, I need a foundation to build the rest of the book on. And this act is giving it to me. I started in the wrong place so the past year has been moving toward the place where I thought, “Oh, HERE’s the story.” Tightening this first act into truck draft form is giving me the basics of the story I’m writing and more than that, the characters.
      But yep, I’ll rewrite it again at the end.

      1. I think I came in at the end of Fast Women. I know you’ll rewrite it.

        I’d just like to read another new Crusie before I die. ; )

          1. Sorry, Jenny, but I think you should write much more than one before you die. I’ve reread most of your books so many times I can quote them (starting to feel like an honorary Dempsey here), and I deeply appreciate them all (even more so, seeing what you go through to get them out to us), but I am unabashedly greedy for more. I want to read this one, and the one about Monday Street, and Liz, and Alice, and…
            So, many more, please. Not just one more before you die.


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