Wednesday, June 23

"Just Skip That Scene and Move On" ... Uh, Pardon Moi? I Do Not Think So...

I cannot count how many times I've been told to just skip a scene that is giving me troubles and move on. I'm not sure if that means I have troubles a lot or if that's the common suggestion given by most people. For my own sanity, I'm going to lean towards the latter.

Regardless, every time I am told that, I have the urge to roll my eyes and snort at the person like a snobby cat. I always refrain, of course, since they're just trying to be helpful and I adore them for it. However, I truly do not understand the logic behind "skipping a scene." Oh sure, I understand that you will at least be working on something useful, rather than sitting there glaring at the screen like it just declared war. That can lead to burnout rather quick, in my experience. And who knows, you might even break through the block you're having with the Trouble Scene and voila, all problems solved. Or are they?

As someone who falls under the "planster" category (a weird hybrid mix between a "panster" and a "plotter"), I don't always know what the next scene will entail. While I generally have the next few scenes in my story brainstormed, I don't know the scenes. I may be insane (which I am, but that doesn't help this point I'm about to make), but doesn't a story build on itself throughout the book? What goes on in chapter 1 and let’s say chapter 8, sets the stage for what happens in chapters 12 and 26. Right? As writers, we layer everything. So even though I may have "plotted" out the next scene, how can I really know what is going to happen in the Trouble Scene and move on? Won’t the Trouble Scene affect the next scene? Heck yes it will! Or at least, it should.

So how can you skip a scene and move on to the next one? If you do that, did you really need that original scene in the first place? What do you guys think? Have you ever been able to skip a scene and move on? Has it ever worked for you?


  1. I don't usually skip a scene and move on to the next one, but when I get stuck in the middle, it helps me to take a break and write the ending I've envisioned. That way I have a better idea of where I am going and it generally helps me avoid writers block from then on. Granted, the ending I originally wrote usually gets changed a lot, if it survives at all. It's main purpose is to motivate me to finish the first draft.

  2. Heck no, and I've never understood that advice either. I write sequentially, and that's that.

  3. I can occasionally skip scenes, but only because I am generally a ridiculously obsessive plotter. But when I have that temptation, I generally realize that my plan for the scene probably wasn't good enough--because if I don't want to write it, people may not want to read it either...

  4. Great topic! I also don't understand the advice. In the past I've written scenes out of order, and it just caused major rewrites on those scenes. Now, even if it takes me a long time to fix a trouble spot, I never skip a scene.

  5. Great topic! I don't understand how it helps to skip past scenes. I've written scenes out of order before, and it caused me to do major rewrites on those scenes. Now, even if it takes me awhile to work through a trouble spot, I don't skip ahead.

  6. Sometimes a chapter or scene doesn't turn out the way I want it. I know there's a missing ingredient, but I don't know what it is (even when I'm using an outline). If I'm really stuck, I just move on. With time and hard thinking, I'll go back to the troubled part and fix it up. Many times during revisions I add new scenes and subplots anyway.

  7. I've done it. Sometimes I just get stuck within the exact way the scene is going to lay out, so I move on and fix the trouble scene later in edits. Usually I don't skip ahead without some kind of idea of what I wanted that scene to accomplish. I've even hand written out notes I can refer back to later when I go back to that trouble scene. :shrug: Whatever works to get me unstuck, I'm there, and sometimes skipping to the next scene jars my brain enough to get the wheels moving again. =o)

  8. I've never understood that advice either. I have to write in sequence, that's just the way my mind works.

  9. I know that I've managed to start my novel in the middle of the book(historical novel, Khandra's Mists). I stopped where it needed to stop and started from the beginning and even connected the "bridge" scene.

    With another book (YA romance, Eros), I had a scene strike me so powerfully, I tucked it away until I reached that part. It slipped right in perfectly.

    I don't know if this carries the same principle as your skipping scene post describes. Does it?

    I usually write in a chronological manner, but there are those few times where I do skip to the end like my Eros up there and it all works out perfectly! :D

  10. Here's how it works for me; your mileage may vary.

    For the most part, I like to try and write straight through from beginning to end. Sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn't. I don't skip scenes, but I do write scenes out if they come to me before I'm ready for them. Sometimes it's enough to jot down a word or a sentence to jog my memory later. Sometimes huge chunks get written way in advance. Sometimes I get to that point and I decide, "You know, that's not really what happened," which is OK, too.

    But most of the time, whether I'm stuck or not, making note of something that happens chapter twenty can show more insight into what might happen in chapter three.

    I don't force it if it's not ready, and I don't give up on pushing through if I'm stuck, but when a part of the story reveals itself, I get it down before it gets gone.

  11. Ruth- That sounds like a good idea. I normally sit down and envision the scene in my head while scribbling the details down on a pad of paper. That generally helps me.

    Summer- Wootwoot, me too (obviously, since I wrote a post about it).

    Faith- Ahh see thats the difference. I think plotters can skip scenes because they already know what's going to happen. Oh thats a good point about the readers.

    Jennifer- Thanks! Yeah, I imagine it would take a lot more work.

    Medeia- Hmm. I always find I add little scenes here and there, but I just cant skip a scene and move on. I need to figure out WHY I can't seem to write it.

    B.E.- Intoresting. I generally either plot it out step by step or I brainstorm. Those ALWAYS work for me.

    Rhonda- Me tooooooo =)

    Elizabeth- Well, I know some people start their novels that way. They write the scene that started it all FIRST and then they go back and fill in the gaps. I'm not sure I could do that *shrugs*

    Jinky- I write things down too that are going to happen in later chapters. I just don't write the scene out like a lot of people =)


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