Please excuse any mess around here while blog is undergoing damage repair.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Do I Need Three Pairs of Black Dress Shoes?

Well, actually, yes. Even though I rarely dress up, when I do, these shoes are necessary. They all serve a different purpose. One looks better with pants, one is a little more casual, and one is dressier. I must keep them all. The key is to store them efficiently so they don't take up too much space, and the only way to do this is to stack them on top of each other. The same could be said about scenes in my manuscript. If I come across several scenes that are similar but have their own function in the story, couldn't I try and layer them into one scene? That way I could still advance the story, but in fewer words. For example: Let's say there are three scenes where my female protag is on the phone with my male protag. One conversation might reveal that she has the hots for him. The second might hint at the fact that he also has the hots for her. And the third may bring to light the conflict that stands in the way of them being together. These three things are closely related and could easily be revealed in one scene as opposed to three. The key is to do it effectively. For those of you with too many words, have you ever tried layering scenes? For those of you with too few words, have you ever tried diversifying scenes?

37 comments:

Regina Milton said...

Without realizing it, I tried to layer my scenes for the first time in the last WIP I did for the 3-Day Novel Contest. It really worked out and what's funny is it kind of relates to the example you used. Thanks for the tip because I'll need to do more of this during editing.

Stephanie Faris said...

You could get some shelves...how does that relate to writing? LOL. I'm not sure...

Novice Writer Anonymous said...

Think I'll try it when I get to revisions. (If I ever get to that point.)

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Working on the layering thing while trying to inject just the right amount of conflict. Tricky.
~ Wendy

L. T. Host said...

Hm;

Typically when I expand, I look for narrative summary I can turn into a scene. I didn't really ever consider taking out a layer and making it into its own scene, but that's a good tactic too. I think though, with my writing I tend to only write the bare bones of what I need my first run through, which is why I have to go back and add so much. So there may not be diversifying to do. But I will keep it in mind for my next WIP!

Natalie said...

I'm constantly trying to expand scenes and slow down the action. I'm adding a few new scenes now. My book might even be a respectable length by the time I'm done.

Faith said...

This is a great idea! I don't think I've ever consciously done this, but I'm definitely going to try it in my revisions.

Dawn VanderMeer said...

Sometimes when I'm editing/looking for places to trim the fat off a manuscript, it takes distance or that fresh set of eyes to even locate the spots that need trimming. It's a good idea to layer scenes (and clothes-hee!).

The pale observer said...

My non-writing-related two cents: all three pairs are definitely necessary - 3 different styles for all sorts of different outfits and occasions. If you got rid of one - it would be just what you needed on your next formal outing!!

:)

jbchicoine said...

Doing it effectively is the trick. You need conflict and tension that sometimes requires several scenes—if everything happens too fast, you deprive yourself of a very effective tool for engaging your reader. It’s such a hard balance to strike. If you layer, make every word count. And make certain you have sufficiently developed the characters so their actions and statements can be understood in light of who they are.
Tricky business, indeed!

Dominique said...

I don't know if I've ever consciously tried it, but I do remember it when I consider abbreviating things. You know what I think was a good example of this technique: Harry Potter 6, the movie. They fit several book scenes into one movie scene quite smoothly.

Bane of Anubis said...

You also have to layer w/o it seeming forced... Although, b/c I tend to write short, I tend to be on the diversification side of the aisle...

Patti said...

That's really the key, effective writing, putting as much as we can into one scene.

FictionGroupie said...

Dominique makes a good point. Movies have to do this, sometimes for good and sometimes to the story's detriment. We probably can learn a lot from watching book-to-screen movies.

Chelle Sandell said...

I tend to write my dialogue first, so layering is a must for me. I'll also go back and layer in action tags to help the reader "see" the story in 3D as it unfolds. :)

Anna C. Morrison said...

That is an excellent point about adaptations. I can't think of an example of layering right now, but I know that it has crossed my mind in the past.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I've never tried that. But yesterday I sat down to write and the chapter I'm working out came out backwards and inside out... I don't even know how to describe it. I started writing and then rearranged the pieces of what I wrote to fit with the greatest arrangement of conflict possible. Are you confused? Because I am... :0)

Laura Martone said...

Excellent advice, Susan - and so timely for me. Because my book is way too long at the moment, and I know I repeat myself, the layering concept will definitely come in handy during my revision process... if, as Novice Writer says, I ever get there. ;-)

JennyMac said...

Layering seems so easy until you attempt to incorporate it...good luck.

And by all means Misses, YES, you need at least 3 pairs of black dress shoes. I have about 30 and justify every pair. LOL.

strugglingwriter said...

"The key is to store them efficiently so they don't take up too much space, and the only way to do this is to stack them on top of each other." That is the key, for sure :)

Can't say I've ever come across the scenario you describe, although what you say makes sense.

Nancy said...

Sounds tricky to me. Since each call happens at a different time in the relationship, do you put the scene early, middle or late? At least, a lot of the books I read, it takes the characters a long time to decide if they have the hots for each other. It must be an advanced writer's technique. Maybe somneday I could try it.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Hard to answer for your manuscript, but working with dialogue I do know each word should have purpose. That all three of those things you have going - the mutual interest and conflict could very easily be in one conversation. Tension in each line.

Lady Glamis said...

Layering scenes is essential for me. I cut about 40,000 words out by doing this in my last draft. Insane!

Kathryn Magendie said...

THis is a great post! So true -

There's so much more than be cut out than writer's sometimes realize :)

Girl Meets Gun said...

Never even thought of it that way. Layering scenes...hmmm. I may have to try to work on that!

Btw, YES you need all those shoes! I have five pairs of black heels. Some are dressier, some have higher heels, some have straps, some have rhinestones! And I've worn them all with different outfits! Duh. :)

Tabitha Bird said...

ah, yeah, you ned the shoes...all the shoes :)

I don't tend to have extra scenes, but often scenes that need condensing. Layering scenes...hmmm I might try this :)

Janna Qualman said...

Stacking, layering, (and lots o' black shoes,) yes!

Beth said...

Like nearly everyone else said, OF COURSE you need all those black shoes! I didn't notice black flip-flops in there...help me sleep better tonight knowing you do have some black flip-flops in that closet ;P

Back to layering - yes, I've been known to layer a scene or two!

Terri Tiffany said...

I have the problem where I have to add some scenes to get the point it--wish it were the other way!

Robyn Campbell said...

I have tried layering and love it. Most of the time, my problem is the opposite. I have to add scenes. But I love to layer when needed. I think it makes everything all neat and tidy. I guess I said that right.

Love those shoes! :)

Liana Brooks said...

That's a good way of putting it. I never considered the scenes layered, but looking at various pieces, that's what I've done. I prefer reading layers since it keeps the pace up and gives depth. But I know there are some scenes that could benefit from the isolation.

Leah Rubin said...

Yes, my flats and my mules they comfort me...

And you inspire me to think of my writing in new ways... Thanks-- as always!

Strange Fiction said...

I'm down to one pair of black heels, cute, comfortable, perhaps a bit outdated... but I've danced a lot of miles in them shoes.. As for my WiP's I seem to be finding that two or three characters can, and often should be whittled down and amalgamated into one...

WhisperingWriter said...

Yup.

I'm constantly second guessing myself and being like, "Should I expand this or leave as is?" I drive myself crazy. No wonder why writers can be reclusive!

storyqueen said...

Right now I am just at the "trying to get the story out" stage. Got to work on crafting eventually. Layering....yikes!

Shelley

Girl in My Own World said...

Yeah, I am going through that now. Right now the issue is too few words. I am so ready for the weekend in which I can roll up my sleeves and really get into it! :o)

dirtywhitecandy said...

Layering... definitely. Before I start a revise, one of the things i look for is scenes that duplicate. It's surprising how many do when you examine their purpose in the story. Sometimes they can be spliced together; other times only the Manolos will do!