Head Banging – writer style

Head Banging – writer style

Bang head here
Last Monday when I read Sandra’s post, When Good Scenes Go Bad, I wondered if she had been spying on me while I attempted to write! Then I realized she was talking about her own experience and I wondered if the condition was contagious. You see, I recently started a new project and consider myself still in the honeymoon phase, when words flow freely and everyone is still getting along. In my experience, the honeymoon stage lasts for months, at least through fifty percent of the first draft.

I am on page thirteen! (It bears noting that both my mother and youngest son were born on the thirteenth, a date and number I’ve always considered quite lucky, which means I can’t blame triskaidekaphobia for my lack of progress.)

Therefore, if it isn’t the number 13, I’m back to blaming Sandra! She was contagious and I caught it from her. Only then damn it – I also have to admit that by reading her post When Good Scenes Go Bad, she also helped me figure out how to break through the wall and get back to work. Is it okay to blame a critique partner, if you also give her credit for solving the problem?

No? Well, crap, that’s what I thought too – but damn it, blaming her is a heck of a lot easier than analyzing my actual problem! Alright then, if I can’t blame her, at least I can use her advice?

click each heading to see Sandra’s original post and advice

Is the scene necessary?

You’re darn skippy it is – this is the first meet scene between the hero and heroine. Yep, totally got this one nailed. A+


right people

Duh – hero and heroine. Yep, those would be the right characters. Another A+


right POV

I’m telling this story in first person, single POV, so if the answer here is no, I’ve got much deeper problems. So, let’s go with the easy answer and assume it is a yes and another A+ (and I thought this would be hard!)


right plot thread

Well, maybe. Okay, probably not. The heroine has returned to her childhood home, broke and out of options. On her first day home she meets her childhood friend, the first boy she ever kissed (a fact that hasn’t appeared on page). There has been no development of the hero, very little development of the heroine — heck, it’s page 13 — if they meet now and kiss and fall in love — yep, I think this is the beginning of my problem. I’m giving myself a D (probably earned an F, but I’m giving credit for effort)


goal or conflict

Goal? Yes. No. Maybe. It’s when they reconnect, but beyond that — okay, not really. Another D

Tension? She is stuck under a fence. And there is a snake. And I can do better. C

Conflict? Yes, there is conflict. Sort of. Not a lot, but … it is not between the two people on the page. C-

Apparently, in addition to a brick wall, I also need to be hit over the head with a hammer! Fortunately, (for me and my totally selfish self) my blog mate and critique partner was suffering from a similar malice at a very convenient time for me to blame her — umm, I mean learn from her.

Analyzing the story using Sandra’s check list helped me realized I had pretty much summed up the entire story — hook, plot and HEA — in thirteen pages. Girl meets boy. Girl likes boy. Boy likes girl. They kiss. Cupid’s arrow flies and they live happily ever after. This is a great story, right? Who needs conflict? Or goals? Or tension?

What do you mean that isn’t a story you want to read? You want well developed characters that you care about and relate to? A focused story thread? A goal? Motivation? And conflict? You want these people to earn their happily ever after? You don’t want to know from the first page they will fall in love and have 2.5 children, a house in the ‘burbs and a dog?

Do you have any idea how much all that stuff complicates EVERYTHING?!? This writing gig is hard!

Don’t judge me — have you written today?

Terri Rich

Terri Richison (writing as Terri Rich) lives in Clear Lake City, TX with her husband and a giant Great Dane (giant even by Great Dane standards). She is working on self-publishing women’s fiction and avoiding getting a pie in the face if she doesn’t produce pages for every critique session! PIES OR PAGES! Terri started telling stories almost as soon as she could talk – she learned everything she needed to know about storytelling at her grandmother’s knee. Craft however, is something she is still learning – those damn commas give me nightmares!

7 thoughts on “Head Banging – writer style

  1. Terri – this was an awesome post. Made me think about my own WIP. It also made laugh.

    Dare I say it? This is YOUR VOICE.

    The snake is new. Don’t remember that from before. I sure hope it’s not poisonous, but I sure can see the hero “messing” with a her a bit over a perfectly harmless little grass snake. Snicker, snicker.

    Got your pages still to read for this week, so I’m looking forward to seeing how you’ve incorporated all your wall-head-banging lessons.

    1. Heck yeah its a poisonous snake! No wimpy little grass snake for our hero. Looking forward to talking this all over on the 20th!

      OH YEAH – and this VOICE stuff still eludes me!

      1. Ah, thought this was a comic scene, which is why I thought the snake would not be poisonous. But now you’ve made me hanker to read your pages. :o)

  2. Hey Terri, I have only 1 question: What’s your heroine’s goal?

    I’m thinking if she doesn’t have a story goal yet, you can’t really determine whether the scene you’re working on is the primary story thread or a secondary one… If her goal is about regaining her feet and making her own way in the world, the scene with the hot cowboy and the snake is a secondary thread. If her goal is about finding true love in a world she no longer trusts, the scene is a primary thread.

    Even so, the scene might be a secondary thread and still be in the right place.

    And consider this: her scene goal is to get through the fence and get to the bluebonnets. Does she succeed? (Check.) Does she discover something (or someone) new along the way? (Check.) Does the activity in the scene broaden her world while also introducing complications? (Check.)

    Of course, we see that her goal changes more to: Don’t look like an idiot in front of her childhood sweetheart. So does she succeed? Of course not! And that’s where some of the conflict comes in.

    So I’m thinking the scene is actually doing a bit better than you think… Just my .02.

  3. Sandra, you’re right – I don’t have a clear story goal yet, so neither does the heroine. The love story angle will most likely be the secondary story goal, so thanks for helping me see that! And thanks for making me feel better about hitting the wall and super huge thanks for seriously helping break through that wall! YOU ROCK!

  4. It’s the “stuff happens” pages that are always so hard to write! Yes, boy meets girl. Yes, boy likes girl. Yes they fall in love and live happily ever after — It’s romance, after all.

    The biggest issue I’ve seen in these 13 pages is that you’re rushing between events. Like you’ve said, you’ve fast forwarded them through all the stages of their relationship. So, in my opinion, you have a pretty good story outline. Now you just need to separate each stage and stretch out the learning and growing.

    Don’t forget: It’s a first draft. You ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO GET IT RIGHT in the first draft.

    1. Dawn – It doesn’t have to be right in the first draft! WOW – what a concept! /Except, I still have no clue what the story goal is for this new project. Romance, sure. But what is the impediment? What is the conflict? I do enjoy this discovery stage – just have to remind myself that it takes time – whether you are a plotter or a pantser, planning or discovering, it takes time! Thanks for the reminder and encouragement!

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