Walking around a scene

Exercises / Fiction / Rewriting, Unfolding scenes

Whenever you write a scene it’s a good idea to rewrite it – perhaps in note form – using a different pronoun (first person instead of third person), from a different point of view or in a different tense. This will give you a deeper, more layered sense of what is actually going on in the scene, including, crucially, what is not being said or done.

It’s particularly important for those scenes that don’t quite hang together and you are not sure why. In order to be able to write a scene convincingly you, as the writer, need to know what everyone in the scene is doing and thinking and feeling, even if you only actually write the scene from a single point of view. I call this ‘walking around a scene.’ If you are movie-minded it might be helpful to think of yourself as the director of your scenes.

Though it can be time-consuming, rewriting a scene from another point of view or using a different pronoun or tense can often give you access to physical, atmospheric and emotional details in the scene you may have previously missed and may well give you a valuable insight into why the scene as originally written isn’t working.

You may find that the addition of a single detail will make the scene suddenly fall into place. Conversely, you may find your initial draft now needs to be revised or that you need to rewrite it altogether. All writing is rewriting. This is a fundamental rule.

All writing is rewriting.

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