I’ve been stalled out on revisions this week because of a really boring scene in my book. It’s embarrassing for me to write this, but if I don’t out myself I’ll continue running on this mouse-wheel forever. Tonight, I give myself permission to cut the scene.
Yet I recoil at the thought. For some reason, I can’t part with this scene about a young woman taking a dress from her mother’s closet. I know! So boring, right? But it’s about so much more than that. It’s the particular dress she chooses. It represents a power shift. It shows a savvy move in a mother-daughter chess game. I have to find a way to keep it.
At the BONI workshop I attended with Donald Maass in September, he read us an opening scene in a novel about a man staring at a white ceiling in a hospital. It was riveting. He read it to illustrate the point that a scene about a man staring at a white ceiling can be compelling if it’s infused with emotional tension. He also told us that he believes good authors have instincts about what to include in a book, and those instincts should be respected. We have to devote a lot of work to drawing out the inner meaning of awkward scenes before we let them go.
I have to figure out a way to infuse this dress scene with emotional tension so the reader can’t tear herself away from it. That’s my challenge. If I don’t succeed before I go to bed tomorrow night, I’m deleting it.
*Photo by ~Evangeline-Theodora at DeviantArt.com