I have writer friends who are still working toward that first big publication. Some are people I mentor and some just ask questions when they get stumped. Once such question-asking writer-pal recently said she couldn’t make herself write the *big battle scene.* For some of us that might translate to the *big sex scene* or the *big murder scene.* The scene had her stumped.
For weeks, her brain would veer away from it and, instead of writing the scene, she would do *other stuff*. She would go back and write in needed info in previous scenes or write new scenes in the previous manuscript pages, but her brain wouldn’t let her actually write the climactic fight scene that would pull all her work together and tie up the conflict.
I remember that feeling, of a scene my creative self wouldn’t start on. Kept running from. Literally gave me panic attacks over. I tried several things back then, in the early part of my career, and some worked, and some didn’t. Today, I just jump in and force myself to start writing, and know that, somehow, I’ll pull myself through it. But back then…well, it was scary as heck. And fear is a great motivator – to run away.
With her full knowledge, here is what I said to my writer friend, though changed and played with a bit to make it fit the parameters of this blog.
Yes, dear writer pal, I agree, your mind is shying away from the battle scene, from something you have never done before. Your brain is happier finding other things to do, claiming that those things will make writing the scene easier than it is trying to write the scene itself.
Bad brain. Down. Be still.
May I suggest an intermediate writing technique. A cluster (grape/bubble, other names too, etc.) outline in *extra large format*. What this does is take your brain out of gear and shove it in to neutral, then let it come up through the creative process via a different path, a safe-feeling, early-childhood-level, picture pathway. It is something we have talked about before on this blog, but expanded a bit.
You may have to go to the store for some of this stuff. I used to keep it all on hand. Really. My hubby used to come in from work to our first home, a small apartment, and find the (very, very tiny, miniscule) living room floor totally covered with this stuff. And the dog (back then the dog was Bear) sitting in the corner, puzzled and bored.
Acquire the following items:
2 large sheets of poster board
2 highlighters (I used blue and gold)
multicolored sticky notes, or just sticky notes (because you may want to do the color part with the pencils or crayons)
colored pencils or crayons (if you want to skip the multicolored sticky notes)
Now sit down on the floor with it all. Just like when you were a kid and were ready to *color*.
I used to first create a legend so I wouldn’t forget what each color was for.
Assign each color of sticky notes (or pencils or crayons) a job, for instance:
red — general battle items (weapons/miscl.soldiers/spells/knowledge)
blue — important characters and the things they need on hand
teal — stuff I need to go back and add in to existing scenes later on
yellow — location of each person as it changes during the scene
Also, perhaps a color for each of the main characters.
You will have to make the legend fit your scene, so be creative. Let your mind have fun with this.
On one poster board sketch out the lay of the land so you can visualize it. Put all the characters and battle stuff (weapons, war machines, horses, jets) in place where they start out in the battle. This is for topography too, so draw in the map (castles, mountains, creeks, lakes, etc.) Now your brain has a picture (literally) of the beginning of the battle. If this is a sex scene you are working on…um…this part may be a lot easier. Or a lot harder.
On the other piece of poster board circle the word BATTLE in the center. Then draw a second circle and write in it the first thing that happens. Connect circle one and two with an arrow. Then draw a third circle for the next thing that happens. If it is a direct result of the second circle, then draw an arrow from circle two to circle three. If it happens independently, (like the other side acting) then draw the arrow from the first circle and the word BATTLE to the third circle. You are now on your way to a cluster outline.
Keep tracing the actions with arrows connecting it all. Use the colored pencils, crayons, highlighters, and sticky notes. .You are doing *anything* to keep your brain from seeing this as writing. As additional things happen in the scene, draw little connecting circles and jot in what happens with the appropriate color.
As you fill in the above cluster circles, write in the progression of events onto the other poster board. Use the highlighters and sticky notes to track things that change, things you need, scenes to add in, and stuff that just pops into your mind. If a particular progression is important then number it to keep track of it all. You will imprint a lovely vision of the battle (sex scene, whatever) on your brain, and engage your creativity on a different, more primitive, childhood level. When you conclude the battle, your brain will be at peace and ready to write.
At that point, I used to translate all the info onto an outline, which I then expanded into the actual written scene. Now, I just dive in and write. Back then my mind truly didn’t believe I could do it. This fooled it and me in to believing I could write the scene. And it worked.
Then BIC and write it.
(BIC = butt in chair)
Anyone got other ideas and methods that work for them? Things you have tried that break through the fear barrier?