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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Using a Placeholder Scene

Using a Placeholder Scene



“Dianne, you know that scene sucks, don’t you?”

Last week I was clobbered by The Return of the Sinus Infection. Clearly one course of antibiotics didn’t do the trick, although it’s amazing how you can feel perfectly healthy one day and then knocked down with a hammer the next.

Not a lot of productivity happened last week. I did binge watch Hell on Wheels on Netflix — until I was ambushed by the death of a certain character at the end of Season 2. I’m not sure I want to go on watching the show after that, and the death scene bothered me so much I couldn’t sleep that night. (The same thing happened when I saw the Red Wedding episode on Game of Thrones.)

My WIP stalled too. Partly because sitting up made me dizzy. But mostly because I knew the next scene planned had some major flaws in it. Logical flaws. Character arc flaws. Plot issues. But after three days of lying on the couch, admiring Cullen Bohannon’s trademark slouch and glower, I was unable to think of any other way to take the story.

Finally, I shrugged and said, “First drafts suck anyway.” I wrote the chapter.

You know what? I learned some things while writing it. World-building related things. Character things. This scene may change drastically or disappear altogether in the next draft, BUT IT WAS WORTH WRITING.  Even when writing a scene you know is kind of lame, you might find a shiny nugget that will make you smile, rejuvenate your interest, and make you think, This going to get interesting in revisions …



15 Responses to Using a Placeholder Scene

  1. Sorry you felt so bad.
    If nothing else, writing that part gets us moving in the story again, regardless of what happens to that scene in the end.

  2. Elise Fallson says:

    “First drafts suck anyway.” YES! I have to remind myself this all the time. All too often I get caught up on the editing parts and then wonder why I can’t seem to finish the first draft. Hope you’re feeling better by now, it’s hard to write under normal circumstances, but writing when we’re feeling sick is the pits.

  3. mshatch says:

    Oh boy, I hear you on the sickness. I seem to have acquired a similar bug and got no writing done this weekend 🙁

  4. Tiana Smith says:

    I hope you feel better soon! I’ve been sick too, off and on for what seems like forever. I’m glad you were able to still get some writing done!

  5. Sia McKye says:

    Hubs is a big fan of Hell on Wheels too. Lordy did I hear about the death scene.

    It’s hard to write when you feel like you’re blowing your brains out with each kleenex and sneeze. I hope you’re feeling better.

    Yay for you writing that scene anyway. No doubt you’ll take those kernels you learned as you wrote it and create a better scene. At least you wrote it. Good job.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

  6. I haven’t seen that death scene. Maybe I’ll skip that episode. I need my sleep.

    Congrats on plunging ahead, knowing the first draft will stink when you reread it. That takes courage every time.

  7. J E Oneil says:

    Smoothing out flaws is exactly what editing is made for! Hope you feel better soon. Being sick STINKS.

  8. Joanne Fritz says:

    Feel better, Dianne! You do seem to get a lot of sinus infections. I used to too, and after ten or fifteen years I found the antibiotics didn’t help. Just a lot of rest and liquids. So, rest up and drink your tea!

    As someone who steadfastly refuses to outline or plan out a plot, I do tend to stall out frequently. Sometimes it helps if I just type “Need transition here” or “Something has to happen here” and then move on. I know eventually, I’ll go back to that chapter and fix it. I love revision best. First drafts give me the heebie-jeebies.

  9. Sounds like you were doing just what you needed to do–rest mostly. Glad you learned from what you did write.

  10. Darn, hope you’re feeling better. I have a cough that won’t quit. Very annoying, but at least it doesn’t make me dizzy and unable to function.

    I find it helpful to just keep going too. Even if I get a brilliant idea for earlier in the WIP than where I am, I just make a note and keep moving forward. It’s what works best for me.

    Good luck with your WIP. Good luck with all your new time management issues. Feel better!

  11. Kirsten says:

    I don’t know if I can keep watching Downton Abbey after the death of a certain character either, so I know how you feel!
    (I love your blog, but I was hoping to subscribe via email. Is there a way I can do that?)

  12. Amy Mak says:

    Sorry you got clobbered! I like what you said about just writing the chapter. I’m doing NaNoWriMo next month and the best thing about it for me is I just have to get those 1167 words down no matter how crappy. It’s how I got my second novel done – because I actually started and had to finish! Hope you’re feeling better…

  13. Isn’t he all smoldery though! And I know just what ending you’re talking about. Definitely a shocker! Hope you’re 100% soon!

  14. LOL! I know exactly what you mean. I think part of a first draft is just giving yourself permission to write crap. That’s how I got through the first draft of my last book, and it was so freeing. I usually detest first drafts. We’ll see if that holds true as I get ready to dive into another one.

  15. Hilary says:

    Hi Dianne .. I feel for you and as you’re doing quite a few book signings – you’re on the go a lot … it’s interesting that that one sentence or phrase can be an intrinsic find … so true ..

    Good luck and I hope you feel better soon .. Hilary