dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author

Thanks for all the kind words of encouragement last week when I was bemoaning my slow progress with this WIP. I love the support in this community!

I’m still creeping into the climax of my WIP. When it comes to action scenes, I tend to choreograph everything down to the last detail (including what people who aren’t even in the scene are doing off-stage). I write bloated, over-long descriptions, extraneous dialogue, describe every motion, gesture, and expression of each character.

Then I go back and start slashing things out. Each successive draft will pare the excess words away until I have a taut, fast-paced scene.

(Then later on, my editor will point out that it’s not as taut or fast-paced as I think it is, and I’ll find scores of other words that didn’t need to be there!)

I confessed at The Practice Room recently that I was worried about writing an upcoming battle scene — a larger battle involving more people and more physical geography than I’ve ever attempted before. Maria Mainero suggested I read G.R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones.

“Oh,” I said. “I actually read that over Christmas break!”

“And …” she prompted.

“Um, I skipped over all the battle scenes.”

So there you have it. Personally, I don’t want to read about sweeping, epic battles between armies. I only care what the main characters are doing during the action.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

So, how should I write my battle scene? Centered around my main characters, what they do, what they see, what they feel. I’ll take it one bite at a time and fight my instinct to choreograph every action of the ensemble cast and shove those things into the narrative. If’ it’s something I would skip over as a reader, then it probably shouldn’t be in there!

That’s the plan, anyway. How do you tackle scenes that seem TOO BIG to write?