Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Writing Extra Scenes

I had a thought.

It's quite a good thing to do; thoughts are generally quite useful, in theory. Some may be better thoughts than others; some may be rather pointless, others may be great thoughts, but you just don't carry them out.

Anyway, back to my thought.

(No, it's not the only thought I have, but it is one of them.)

I was reading Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft into a Published Book by Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson, and it was talking about making your deeper characters.

(It's chapter 2, by the way, in case you have the book and want to go look it up. Just to make sure I'm not lying. And if you don't have it, get it.)

It wasn't the actual exercises that gave me the thought, although they did begin my train of thought that eventually thought up my thought, as you will see if you keep reading down.

(See how crazy my brain is?)

I answered the questions for my antagonist (and my main character, but the antagonist's questionnaire was more revealing). One of the questions asked about a secret desire that your character had. Anyway, to make a long story into a short one, I wrote a short 'story' about my antagonist, and some of the factors that caused him to become the villain he is.

(It wasn't a very good story… badly written… telling rather than showing… narrative summary... but it did the point, and I can always rewrite it.)

So, my thought was…

Drum roll…

Why don't writers write lots and lots and lots of stories about their characters, and their world?

(Or maybe they do, in which case the question should be 'Why don't I?')

Why don't writers/we write scenes that go in between the published scenes?

For example, if your characters are going on a overnight hike, write out all their conversation from the evening. Describe the trip in as much detail as you want. If there are two years in between two chapters, write as many scenes in those two years as you want. It will give you an idea of what your characters got up to during those two years, and will develop their character further.

I guess if writers don't, there has to be a reason for it. Either: a) they haven't thought of it or b) the 'con's are greater than the 'pro's. Or I'm just the only writer who doesn't do it.

Character development–you often won't write long scenes with characters sitting around a fire talking, but some of those conversations might be very beneficial for character development.
World development–you can write descriptions as long as you want, because you're the only who'll need to read them.
Story development–sometimes those conversations will spark a new direction for the plot or subplot. And maybe those scenes will become crucial and be used in a later draft or sequel.
Writing practice.

You might get emotionally attached to those scenes (not likely for some writers, but some might) and want to put them in the novel.
Takes up time that you could spend writing other things.

I would personally say that the 'pro's overwhelm the 'con's, for me at least.

Now that I've written all of this, I can now remember that I have heard some writers say that they do this… maybe I'm just an non-backstorying anomaly.

Only way to settle this… I'll have to ask my loyal, devoted, (and possibly traitorous) (okay, hopefully not traitorous) readers.

The question is, then:

Do you write all the filler/backstory scenes to fit into your project?

For some reason, this post has been written with a much less formal tone than my other ones. (At least it seems like that to me.) Do you prefer my more formal tone, or this 'write-my-thoughts-down-as-they-come-to-me' mad rush post?

Jag Swiftstorm


  1. Great to see you finally posting a bit more, Jag!
    I don't write behind-the-scenes-in-between stuff. I don't have time, frankly!!
    Good on you if you do. Go for it.

    1. I wonder why you don't have time... maybe if you didn't do so many things...

      And no, I don't, but I would like to. Thanks for commenting!

  2. I do not write all the filler/backstory scenes to fit into my project, mostly because, in general, when there's an instance when I skip to a later time, it's because I've run out of ideas of what to fill that time with. I have, however, considered writing backstory/behind-the-scenes-type scenes for a few characters/stories.

    1. Ah, so then wouldn't writing that in-between time help with knowing what to do? These 'extra' scenes don't have to be interesting or fast-paced... you can just write what they did on an average day.

      Thanks for commenting and following!

  3. Oh, yes! Not necessarily short stories, but I like writing about characters (briefly outlining their backgrounds, etc.) and writing about worlds. And whenever I have an idea for a conversation or scene that I think is really good (though most of the time, it isn't :P), I write it down. (And actually, this helps me become less emotionally attached to a scene.) I think that writing things that you'll never use in a book is a great thing to do; it helps create more complex characters and a richer world, it helps you as a writer think more deeply about your story, and it forces you to write more. Perhaps that writing is not good, perhaps it is not well thought through, but it is writing. And I think that more writing helps you become a better writer. :)

    P.S. I like your formal style slightly more (it's easier to follow). But that's just me.

    1. How does it help you to become less emotionally attached? I'm curious.

      And I think that writing helps you become a better writer. That pretty much sums it up. Thanks for your insights.

    2. Well, sometimes I have an idea for a scene that I think would be really great, so I write it down (but in a very-rough-draft sort of style). Then I usually end up leaving it for a few days, a week, a month, and when I come back to it, I often realize that it was a really stupid/sappy/unnecessary scene. Sometimes it was a good idea (I like it when that happens). But I think reading a scene that was written in a less-than-ideal style really helps the bad ideas show up. Of course, if you want to root out bad ideas in a few minutes, all you have to do is read it to a sibling. ;)

  4. Good post. I'm trying to do these things this past month and all. Backstories is one of my favorite parts of all time.

  5. Ha! I think Con #1 would be my problem! I'm immensely proud of most of my writing - a fault I am working on, I promise. The more I write (and read!), the more capable I am of letting go of certain wordings, sentences, and scenes. I still get pretty attached, though. :D Anyway, I really like what you're saying. I know a lot of writers do something like this. I don't, per se, but it does appeal to me, and I like to write more about my books, characters, etc. The thing about the whole concept of writing extra scenes is this: you might discover something you never realized about your book. We can, on occasion, be a tad narrowminded, thinking we have our book's plan and skipping over things just because they didn't fit in the plan. I'm not saying we all do this; I just know it can happen. :) But writing those extra things might make the book better in the long run. And, making yourself an expert is always a good position to write from, even if you never share your "expertise" in your book. You probably thought of all that already, but that's my two cents. :)

    1. And, making yourself an expert is always a good position to write from, even if you never share your "expertise" in your book.

      That's very true. I heard a writer say or write somewhere that they should know much more about their world and their story than they ever disclose in their books.

      Thanks for commenting and following!