Authors Answer 40 – Difficult Scenes

Some people think writing is easy.  It’s not. Some aspects are easier for some authors, while others are more difficult. But it’s usually not the same from author to author.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 40: What kind of scenes do you find most difficult to write?

H. Anthe Davis

I don’t know that I find any kind of scene difficult — except sex scenes, which I just don’t write.  I enjoy writing action scenes, dream sequences, extended dialogue, lavish descriptions, etc etc…  There are certain things I don’t write, like in-depth narration or exposition, but that’s because I don’t like that stuff and try not to include it.  I have been told that when my characters monologue, it’s not so great, so I’m working on that.

Paul B. Spence

I find sex scenes to be difficult because I prefer to respect my characters’ privacy. I also have difficulty with political scenes and scenes where bad things happen to good people.

Caren Rich

Action scenes tend to be the hardest for me to write. Mainly because there is so much going on in them. You’re not only thinking about dialogue but also the choreography of the characters movements with each other and their surroundings. Not to mention pacing it properly so it doesn’t drag or occur too fast.

Eric Wood

It’s not so much scenes I struggle with as much as dialog. I can hear the characters voices in my head but I can’t get them to sound real. Or at least not on paper. I doubt myself quite a bit, too. I wonder if what my characters say is how people really talk. Or if the reader reads my characters words with the same tone that I intended. I know the general direction I want my story to go, but I struggle with the conversation to get my story from point A to point B.

Jean Davis

Getting someone from point A to point B in a meaningful manner is usually a challenge for me. I can kill characters, drive them into spirited physical or emotional combat, torture them with countless obstacles or maybe even let them find love, but man, if I have to spend a couple pages on riding horseback while describing the scenery between the nearest inn and the distant castle during which two weeks pass, its pure agony on my end.  Those scenes are usually scrapped and turned into a short summarized paragraph along the lines of: they travelled, nothing happened, and now we’re moving on to what happens when they got there.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

It depends on what kind of difficulty you’re talking about. If we’re talking about, for instance, emotional difficulty, I find death scenes are the worst. I put a lot of love and emotion into my characters, so if it comes down to having to kill them things can get pretty rough pretty fast.

But if we’re talking more about the kinds of scenes that make you want to tear your hair out because you just can’t find the words, I’d definitely go with fight/battle scenes. I’ve actually been told that I’m pretty good at them, but I do find them terribly difficult to write. There’s a pretty fine line between a scene that’s painfully boring and a scene that is obviously trying too hard. I struggle to maintain the balance because often I’ll feel that I successfully wrote an amazing scene full of tension and action, but when I go back through it it’ll be super-short, or it won’t be clear who’s doing what, or it will genuinely make me yawn aloud. It can be an exercise in humility for sure, but it also makes me work twice as hard to get it right.

Gregory S. Close

I can’t think of any one type of scene that’s most troublesome.  Romance, action, murder, losing a favorite character – these are all hard to write in the sense that it takes an emotional toll.  However, sometimes they are very easy in terms of flowing from brain to finger tips to paper.  (One minor character’s death came sudden and swift, and in just a few short sentences the imaginary life that I created came to an imaginary end, and it felt awful – but the words came easy).

For me, the hardest scene to write is the one that I’m not excited about, or doesn’t seem real in the context of the characters and narrative.  I think that comes through in prose, and as I reflect on it, most of the times that a particular scene frustrated me were solved by finding the excitement in it.  The climax of In Siege of Daylight provided a lot of that kind of frustration. There were a couple of scenes that were very challenging to write (not the ones where people died, to my prior point), until I finally listened to my characters (one in particular) and took a different approach.  Then, the scene felt right to me, the actions of the characters rang true, and that which had been so difficult to write became exciting and was over with in short order.

And hopefully better!

Allen Tiffany

I don’t really think of any specific kind of scene as an issue. The challenge is always to make scenes meaningful and efficient (no extra words, nothing about the weather or landscape…only things that matter to the story).

Linda G. Hill

Fist-fight scenes are very difficult for me.  I can see it play out in my head but I can never get one down on paper without feeling as though it’s boring. And let’s face it – there’s nothing boring about a fight. I avoid writing about them every bit as much as I avoid getting into one.

D. T. Nova

Scenes involving deep levels of dishonesty and deception. The more complex and convincing, the harder it is to write. (At least up until the point where the liar has herself deceived as well, in which case it gets easier again because then it’s a belief and not a lie.)

Jay Dee Archer

I don’t think it’s really any particular scene that’s difficult, but certain kinds of narratives that are. I have no problem with dialogue. But narratives involving a lot of action give me trouble. In particular, I feel as if I’m not using descriptive enough words or I’m trying too hard. I need to find a happy medium.

How about you?

If you’re a writer, what kind of scenes do you find difficult to write? Let us know in the comments below.

13 thoughts on “Authors Answer 40 – Difficult Scenes”

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Since I already shared some flash fiction yesterday, I thought today could be a day just for Authors Answer; today’s is a pretty interesting one in which the authors and I talk about what kinds of scenes we feel are the most difficult to write.

  2. I have trouble with combat scenes. I know how the action should work, but describing it is another matter. Fortunately, I know a few people I can ask for help with that.

  3. My most difficult scenes are transition scenes where I want to create a sense of close familiarity without showing all the time it took to get there. In one chapter the characters meet and in the next they are closely bound in friendship. I dislike “telling” about the year between, so the relationship has to be newly defined by the current interaction while imparting information AND moving the plot forward. I can spend a whole day writing one page of this stuff.

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