Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sometimes Scenes Just Write Themselves...

Folks wonder how writers come up with scenes. Scenes that strike them as scarily accurate, touching, disturbing.

We don't pull those moments from a vacuum. We get them from you. If there's a writer in the room, know that you're being watched. For instance:

Last night, we took Maya to Macaroni Grill for her 5th birthday. As we waited, a 40-ish year old man and his 15-year old daughter and 8-year old son sat on the bench across from us. Within seconds, each had pulled out their cell-phones - the girl a pink Razr, the boy a cheapie black block, and dad, an iPhone. Fingers flying, no conversation until Mom walks in (guess she came straight from work). She looks at her family, each lost in their cell-worlds, and says, "Is this what we're gonna do all through dinner?"

INSTANT CONFLICT. Where it gets interesting. Where a writer's ears perk up - and mine did.

From there, mom asks about her son's day, congratulates her daughter on the B+ she received on her chemistry test, and on and on.

Now. A writer may not want such a great conclusion. Maybe the dad was pissed off, and tired of her nagging about the phone. Maybe the boy wasn't supposed to have his phone since he had been punished. Maybe the girl was sexting some perv in Norway and the mom caught her since dad wasn't paying attention since he was texting his mistress who is also his sister-in-law.

The point is this: every interaction in a novel is derived from something a writer has observed. Maybe she changes 80 percent of what happens, but inspiration comes from you. And thank you so much for being so interesting.

What real-life moment have you observed that would be a great scene in a novel?

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