May the Left Brain Win!

I take it all back. That scene analysis project I was complaining about last post? It actually turned out to be pretty rewarding.

I was at that stage in the book where I simply didn’t know where to go. When that happens, I often turn to “how-to-write” books–partly in search of a gem of advice that will set my book on the right path, but mostly in search of an excuse to stop writing and still feel productive.

I picked up Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer, first published way back in 1965. His first couple chapters on “scene and sequel” are what sparked the scene analysis idea.

By looking for specific elements in each scene, I found some that fell flat, but I also discovered the book as a whole works pretty well. And by examining motivation in each scene, I got a better picture of the characters and how they were growing throughout the story. It’s working. It’s really working. I just need to tweak a few scenes and delete a few dead spots.

And I wound up with an obsessive-compulsive masterpiece: a scene-by-scene outline of the book, with needed changes highlighted in yellow, and major turning points highlighted in pink. I also outlined the scenes to come, right up to the satisfying resolution of the story. Yeah, I veer over to the left side of the brain once in a while.

Which is a good thing, because what got me in trouble in the first place was the right side of my brain–the creative side that tends to prance off into the distance, dancing to a drummer no one else can hear, unmindful of practical considerations like outlines and motivations and where the characters need to end up.

Now I’m heavily revising much of what I wrote over the past few days, and even discarding some scenes. But that’s okay. Nate and Charlie are back on track, and this writing zombie has been re-animated into an actual human being again.