Tuesday, November 18, 2008

“Every scene should have a function. Test its validity by asking yourself: If I omitted this scene completely, would the story still make sense to my readers?” -- William G. Tapply in The Elements of Mystery Fiction.
I read this quote at least once a week and still don’t know how to accomplish what he suggests. I submit stories for critique containing the scenes that I feel are appropriate and receive comments telling me that a particular scene doesn’t work for the reader or isn’t necessary. In a recent story, I received comments both pro and con for the same scene. This isn’t unusual and is what makes writing stories fun -- okay, sometimes it’s upsetting, especially if it’s my favorite scene. How do I deal with this? I read all the critiques, but don’t make any immediate decisions on the suggestions. Instead, I set the story aside for a week or two to let my muse play with the comments, then go back and rework the story, incorporating the suggestions I think help and ignoring the rest.

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