Writing Advice: Skipping Scenes


We all know that some scenes are easy to write, and others are like pulling teeth. At times it feels like the words are flowing and they can’t be stopped. But sooner or later, you are going to hit a roadblock where the words won’t come, or they won’t come in the right way. When you’re faced with this roadblock scene, you have two choices. You can get hung up on this one moment of your story, fixate on it, and spend far too much time pondering over how to make it work. Or, instead, you  can push past the problematic scene and mark it as something you have to come back to later.

This piece of advice comes from one of John Steinbeck’s six tips on writing, which were compiled on the Brainpickings site. The writing tip in question reads thusly.

If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

I think this is a great piece of advice. If you let a scene stall you for too long, you might lose your inspiration entirely. Then, even if you end up getting the scene correct in the way that you wanted, it may ruin the rest of your story. Don’t let one scene — or even one selection of a poem you’re working on — ruin the whole piece for you. Especially since, as Steinbeck says here, those sections that caused you trouble might not even belong once you’ve finished the entire piece.

As Steinbeck says, sections can be gone back over and edited when you’ve finished your progress, so don’t let them impede your writing as you work towards the completion of your story or poem.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan


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