NaNoWriMo: Writing scenes you hate.

November 5, 2008

I have always had a problem with scenes I hate.  As, I suspect, everyone does.  Usually, though, I would blunder through them, trying and trying to get them right, until finally I gave up and the story died there.


Today, I sat down and wrote a scene that I hated.  I wrote the whole thing – nearly 1000 words – and I finished it.  And then the most amazing thing happened.

I felt good.

No, more than that.  I felt great.

It was such a bear writing the scene, I thought it would never end.  It weighed on me oppressively from all sides, dragging me into the bowels of despair and editing anguish.  But once I finished, I felt wonderful.  Fantastic.  I felt free. Now I could move on to writing something more relevant to the plot; something I wanted to write.  It was the most beautiful, liberating experience I’ve ever had.  It was the closest I have ever come as a writer to flying.

For your lulz, here is the scene.

* * ** ** * * ** *

Stevens yawned, blinked, and stared at his computer screen.  He’d been working on his report for several hours now, and it was not going well.  He’d tried ordering it into sections, working on the more interesting bits and then filling in the gaps, and just charging at it, but he was still stuck at the midway point.  He frowned.  It wasn’t that he had a problem describing the eating habits of lizards.  It was just that he didn’t want to.

As luck would have it, though, he was saved from that particular necessity by a sudden creak of his office door.  Glancing up from his chair, he discovered the source of the noise: a young woman on the verge of entering, one hand on the doorknob, staring at him with an expression between shock and guilt.

“Oh, hey there,” he said.

The woman blinked, closed her mouth, and stepped inside, continuing to stare at Stevens somewhat nervously.  “Hey there,” she responded.  “Uh… I didn’t realize you were in here.  Dr. Stevens, right?”

He nodded.  “Yeah.”

“Oh,” she said.  “Uh… I was sent to deliver this.”  From behind her back, she produced a small but attractive fruit basket.  “It was actually supposed to be here hours ago, but we had some delays… anyway, it’s here now.”  She set it on the desk and clasped her hands behind her back, looking rather sheepish.

“Thanks,” said Stevens, looking the basket over.  It clearly wasn’t an expensive one; like his office, it was more functional than thoughtful.  Still, it was a nice gesture, and he was getting pretty hungry.  He grabbed a pear, rubbed it on his sleeve, and looked back at the woman.  She hadn’t left yet; it seemed almost as though she were waiting for something, but he couldn’t guess what.  “You know, I like fruit.  It doesn’t talk to me when I eat it.”

She frowned.  “Talk to you…?”

“Yeah.”  Feeling impulsive, he set down the pear and held out his hand.  “Dr. Jean Stevens, necropath.”

“Ah.”  The woman seemed a bit more relaxed now, but the handshake she returned was still rather nervous.  “Liza Keller, telekinetic.”

Stevens grinned.  “I like telekinesis.  That’s cool.  You move stuff with your mind, right?”

“Uh, no.”  She smiled, but it was an apologetic and rather unconvincing smile.  “I actually just move myself.  Moving other stuff would be psychokinesis.”

“Oh.”  He nodded.

There was a long pause, in which Keller seemed to be trying to decide something.  “Well,” she said at last, “I’d better go.  Um, if you need anything, just let me know; I’ll probably be in Prof. Miron’s office.  It’s on the next floor up; just take the elevator, step out to the left and it’s four doors down.  Or you can call, if you like.  Let me get you the number…”  She scrambled around for a moment before pulling a small card out of her handbag.  “Here you go.”  She handed it to him, then the hands returned to their retreat.  “Okay, that should do it.  Just call me if there’s anything you need.”

She began to leave, but he interrupted her with a quick exclamation.  Surprised, she wheeled back around, one hand steadying her handbag and the other remaining bashfully out of sight.  “What is it?”

“There are a couple of things you could do for me,” he said.  “Can you get a coffeepot sent up here?”

“Sure.”  She nodded.

“Great.  Now, the other thing has to do with my apartment…” When a look of panic flashed across her face, he quickly continued.  “I was just wondering if you had the directions.  I was thinking of turning in for the evening.”

“Oh!” she exclaimed, now looking both relieved and embarassed.  “Yes, of course.  I’ll have them faxed down here in a jiffy.  Is that everything?”

“I think that’ll do it.”

“Okay,” she said, lapsing mainly into relief.  “I’ll just get to that then.  Uh… I guess I’ll see you later.”

“Probably… seeing as how I’ll be working here for the next few months or so.  Unless you were planning on going anywhere.”  He was needling her now, just testing to see how far he could tease her until she cracked.

“Uh, I don’t think so.  Unless Prof. Miron decides to get a new secretary, anyway.  Since that’s my job.”

He nodded.  “I gathered.”

“Right.  So, anyway, see you later.”

“‘Bye.”  He waved a bit, after her back was turned, and retrieved his pear from the desk.  Weird kid, he thought.  Must be a darned good secretary.

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