I am working on a scene that loosely involves a dragon, a highwayman, a very round innkeeper, and a pile of towels in the process of being folded.
Or so I thought. I’m actually not sure where the towels went.
I’m going through the chapter one more time before I do the final edit, and the towels are not where I thought they were. I remember putting a servant boy at a table so he could conveniently overhear a conversation. He was supposed to be sitting there and folding the towels. But apparently I took that part out and completely forgot.
So instead of something that actually makes sense, I am left with a paragraph without any towels in it whatsoever. I have a servant with no purpose who suddenly and awkwardly skittered from the room—in past tense, because no one knows why he was in there.
This is why we edit, people.
Scene Life and Other Annoyances
Getting a scene to come alive can be hard sometimes.
In my attempts to make a scene believable and fit well with the rest of the book, I can find myself asking questions and getting caught up in details that don’t really matter at the end of the day. They seem important in the moment, but they are extra things the reader doesn’t require or care about.
I created towels.
And then I uncreated them.
Two Ways to Write
The whole of writing can be boiled down to two basic methods or ways. You can write:
By force. The words make sense on the surface—the characters are acting, moving, going about their business—but under the surface, they lack the “magic” that makes the book feel like it’s alive.
By ease. This is when the book flows like honey. It’s like God flips a switch inside of you, and you can see the book, and as you write, you get to watch it come alive.
One of these is better than the other. That’s pretty obvious. But much of the time, you’ll need to use both. For instance, you may have to start with force, putting together your draft brick by brick, slapping the mortar all over everything and making a huge mess—but you’ll get to end with ease. In the process, the characters become real people who are going on an adventure, and you get to watch, and you have the lovely sense that you’re winning.
I feel like I’ve reached the place where this chapter is finally starting to flow. In this place I feel like I’m a good writer. Unfortunately, I am not in this place all the time.
I mean, clearly. I was surprised by towels.