The result is that I basically wrote Predator: South China Sea in two months. I had more than six months to work on it, but only spent about eight weeks at the computer and writing longhand. In my twenties, I was known to spend six months on a single short story or novella.
One thing I see often in the writing of my students and sometimes my own work is a scene that could be made stronger with a really strong setting acting as an anchor. Think about how you know where you are.
Your senses tell you. Close your eyes right. What do you hear? What can you smell? Are you sitting or standing or in some way interacting in your environment?
How is that affecting your body?
And one more tip: Often, the tiniest detail is the best detail when it comes to grounding a scene in a particular time and place or bringing a huge, sweeping moment back to the personal. The tricky thing about this is that the first thing we think of as writers is almost never that perfect, small detail.
We have to dig for those. But when we go to a lake and listen, we also hear the two dogs barking just up the hill — one with a deep woof and one with a high-pitched yapping. We hear the far-away train and maybe the scrape-clunk-scrape of a kid sorting rocks to find just the right one to skip.
These are better details. First, just stay at your desk or wherever you are, and write a quick description of that setting. Now, take your notebook and go to the place. Sit down, and for five or ten minutes, just watch and feel and listen, and write down things you notice.
Sniff the air, too. Everyplace has smells, and not always the ones we expect. Those might be the best details of all. The Crash The most fun thing for me about writing is cutting scenes. Knowing where to cut a scene is hard, and getting just the right ending to it is also tough, but I think about it in two ways, Have I shown the reader everything they need from this scene?
And Does the ending propel them to the next one?
So the first part always involves some back and forthing. And for that, I encourage you to watch one of my favorite movies in the whole wide world, The Fifth Element.
This movie cuts scenes with razor-sharp precision and what ends one scene starts the next, and it all feels orderly, but also super exciting.Introduction.
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