I spent two full days last week wrestling with a scene while writing the first draft of my present work in progress. Rolling around in a mosquito-infested swamp, trying to subdue an alligator with a bad attitude and even worse breath would probably have been easier.
Some experts would advise that it is best to step away from a ferocious, uncooperative scene when it gets all snarly and dominant and unmanageable. I’ve heard that some authors will revisit a difficult scene after both writer and manuscript have calmed. This makes perfect sense for someone other than me. Call me stubborn or obsessive or both, but I could not walk away from my snarly scene. It taunted me. If I turned my back on the bared teeth of this arrogant creature, it might, I imagined, rip my arms off of my body. So I fought on, cursing and pounding the keyboard of my poor beleaguered Mac.
Exhausted, I finally subdued the scene. This brought me great satisfaction. Of course I didn’t tame it, I only corralled it. The taming will come, I hope, in the revisions. For now, I am looking ahead to other scenes that I hope will be more puppy dog than two hundred pound alligator. But even if I come upon another sharp-toothed chunk of text, I am ready. Because now, I am more confident.
A question for the writers: Do you leave a really difficult scene and return to work on it later, after crafting other scenes? Or, do you wrestle?
A question for the readers: Do you ever sense, while reading, that an author has rolled in the mud to write a certain scene?