On Writing Difficult Scenes

For the record, I have been keeping up everyday with WFMAD, Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing challenge for the month of July. Some days I only write 100 words but that’s okay. I’ve added over 5,000 words so far and that’s 5,000 more than I would have had without WFMAD.

Here’s a trick that helps me to want to write the next day—leave off in a place where you know what’s going to happen next. That way you’re not facing a blank page hoping your muse will show up.

So the other day I was writing a particularly difficult scene. By that I mean it was difficult for the main character, not for me as the writer because I was sitting someplace cushy, probably munching on something yummy. And yet it was difficult for me to put my character through that. It physically affected my body—I was tense and literally felt ill to my stomach. As a writer or an illustrator, these are the emotions I’m hoping to get across in my work. Whether I succeed or not is something for you to judge.

I’m one of those writers that finds it difficult to put my character in harm’s way, but I’m working on it. I heard Bruce Coville speak at a NESCBWI conference and he is the master of this. From the way he spoke, I would venture to say that he relishesgetting his characters in trouble. So I try to remember his glee when I need to do something bad to my MC.

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