Sticky scenes

Every novel I have ever written has had sticky scenes in it – and no, (Anthony), I’m not talking about sweaty, hot, sexy ‘sticky’, I’m talking about the ones you start writing and then get caught on because they just don’t seem to be coming out right no matter how many times you delete and start again.

I think Sun-Touched has had three so far. Two of which I have managed to pass and the third one I am struggling with at the moment. ACK, it’s really killing me. I was only a couple hundred words into it when I became sure that I’d seriously stuffed it up. It was set to jump the tracks and be a real wreck. I still can’t finish it.

However, I know what has to happen in the scene. Okay, not the actions, exactly, but the combination of emotions and conflicts etc that need to be tapped into and explored. I know where it starts, and where it ends (roughly), I just don’t know the right words to put it on the page.

It’s been bugging me for days. Literally. I hit 59,000 words on Friday night and managed to write a mere 500 over the weekend. No matter how desperate I was to get to 60K, I couldn’t write words that I knew for a fact would be eradicated completely.

I’ve finally crossed that threshold, but the scene is still not right. I’ve written out several times what I need from it, but I still can’t find the words. I think I may have to delete it entirely and start fresh, because I can’t pinpoint the exact sentence where it all goes wrong.

Anyway… What do you do when you hit those sticky scenes? Do you rewrite it until it feels right? Do you tweak it until it will do the job for now? Or do you skip ahead and start writing the next scene, and come back to it after you’ve had a bit of space?

I’m strongly tempted by that last option, though something is telling me that I need to give the scene one more go before I move on. It’s study night, tonight. I think I’ll start a new document, stare that blank screen in the eyes and start over.

Wish me luck, because from here on out it’s a matter of threading together the last pieces and tying everything up. I’m close to the home stretch. I can FEEL the End looming and I really want to get there. I just have this sticky mess to get myself out of first…


11 thoughts on “Sticky scenes”

  1. My entire project was a sticky scene. Writing and rewriting, edited to within an inch of its life and my sanity. I was determined to wade through the stickiness and unstick. Until two days ago when I wondered what the heck I was wasting that energy on and switched to a different project.
    Best decision I’ve made all year!
    My advice to myself, and if it helps you too – If something doesn’t work, fiddle and tweak until it does. If it still doesn’t work, scrap it, move on and learn what not to do next time. Maybe you’ll find it again later, after you’ve learned something new from a different scene and know how to fix it.
    Best of luck, or whatever it is that gets these things done.

    1. Thanks, Kate! I managed to write it last night – sat down and hammered it out with no struggle at all. Funny how that can happen. I often find that if I blog about something, the solution smacks me in the head and I can move on.

  2. Good to hear you got through it. I generally just get a finished version of the scene done, even if I know it will need complete re-writing – get the characters from A to B, and keep on heading on for C, D and so on. Re-writing is about going back and making the journey from A to B come out just right. Sometimes, you just have to put a placeholder in.
    Or, you can just do what you did, step away, then run back at it!

    1. Well, it worked this time at least – I usually push on, like you, unless its a scene I really feel the need to get more right than wrong on the first pass. Some pivotal scenes feel like that.

  3. Hi JC. I normally move on. Most of the time something will click into place when I am further in the wip. Something I wouldn’t have seen if I had stayed put. Good luck!

    1. Funnily, it was what happens in the next scene that helped me get the right words for the sticky one! I had to know where I was going and how it would lead into the next one to get it right. Pleased I could tick it off the list before moving on though. Love hearing how different people do it – thanks!

  4. Glad to hear you finally got through it Cassie! For me, sticky scenes tend to mean I need to step back for a day or two (maybe work on edits or a short) and then come back. Sometimes, it’s just not easy to see the right way through it. And I’m just not one of those writers who can skip ahead to a new scene. xD Even when I outline, I don’t know 100% how my characters are going to react until they’re in that situation and dealing with it…and I can’t write the next scene without knowing those repercussions. Those sticky scenes can make life difficult! lol

    1. They certainly can, that’s for sure. I think if I had been getting more sleep, it might have been clearer to me sooner, but I’m there now. I haven’t been a person who could skip around in the novel either, everything has to come in sequence lol maybe one day we’ll be more flexible? Or maybe not, to each their own πŸ˜‰

  5. You’ve really inspired me. I’m writing on my novel every day, even if its just a few 100 words. I subconsciously always feel like a book is something that will take forever – but that is not the case when you tackle it purposefully. I am determined! Thanks for blazing a trail πŸ™‚

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