Weakest Scenes

In my never-ending study of the craft of writing, I came across this tidbit I need to share. I found it in James Scott Bell’s book, Revision & Self-Editing. He challenges writers to identify the ten weakest scenes in our current WIP, then follow these instructions:

1. List the scenes in order, making the weakest scene number one, the next weakest number two, and so on.

2. Cut scene number one from the manuscript.

3. Move to scene number two and fix it. Do that by:
a. Identifying the objective in the scene and who holds it
b. Identify the obstacle to that objective
c. Identify the outcome of the scene
d. Intensify the objective, obstacle, and/or outcome somehow (note: he offers ideas on how to do this in the book)

4. Rinse and repeat for the next eight weak scenes.

I’m having a tough time implementing this exercise. How do I identify my weakest scenes? They’re all fabulous! Hah. Just kidding. They’re aren’t all fabulous, but that perfectly illustrates my point: I’m too biased about my work. There are days when ALL the scenes stink. Other days, they’re all glorious.

So for identification purposes, I’ll need to rely on my critique partners.

Once they’ve laid it all out for me, on to number 2, cutting the weakest scene. Again, I’m not sure I’ll be able to, but I can always save it in another file just in case I figure out a way to fix it or decide I can’t live without it.

Since I haven’t progressed past number 1 above, I won’t be able to comment on how number 3 is going for me, but I challenge YOU, faithful readers/writers, to take this Bell challenge and see how it impacts your WIP. Leave me a comment and let me how it works.

For what it’s worth,

-Sonja

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