Writing That Scene You Fear

I knew he was going to die. I’ve known it for months and with each month and each word the death scene crept closer and closer. Then it arrived. And I did not want to write it.

Those who have read a lot of my fiction know that it is hardly all unicorns and rainbows and everyone always living happily ever after. Sometimes the body count can stack up quite a bit even. But some death scenes are more difficult to write than others.

I tried to put off writing the specific death scene — and I managed it for a whole month. Then I realised something. I was not really dreading the character’s death as much as I was writing it. Exactly because the character plays such a prominent role and I really liked the character I did not want to mess it up.

The scene is, to top it off, a very busy scene that needed to slow down and almost stop — abruptly — and I was not sure that I could actually write it.

Simply stated, my fear was sitting down and writing the scene. And it was stalling everything. The whole story. And I couldn’t even use the excuse that I was simply waiting for the muse. I was afraid — as simple as that.

Then, this week, I did it. I sat down and wrote the scene. And cried a bit. And drank some sweet tea. And then sent it on to a friend to read and give feedback.

Now, in case you were wondering, no, I did not suddenly get hit by a lightning bolt of inspiration and wrote five thousand words as if it was nothing. But I did realise that I could put it off no longer and that I was really being stupid in not even trying to write the scene.

What I ended up doing was skipping forward about a thousand words to The Scene and wrote it from start to finish the best I could as a first draft. Because writers often seem to forget that there is this little thing called “editing”. The first version of the scene did not have to be perfect, but there had to be something to work with. Anything.

And the first draft turned out not to be too bad in the end.

I know the piece still needs a lot of editing, but now I feel more up to it. And I think that this is a strategy I will use in the future as well.

Now it is on to the final edit of part five of The Box of Secrets, and onto writing part six!

Read part 1 to 3 over here.

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.


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