Skip to main content

Dear Writer, What Scene Do You Find the Toughest to Write? #IWSG

scene tough writingIf you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be?

This is the question over at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group today, and it makes me go back to all my stories.

I’m not sure which scene I would like help with. With each story, it is different. Sometimes it is a death scene, at others a lovemaking scene. I mostly get stuck with who is doing the telling of the story, and why.

If I had one wish to help me tell a story, I would make it the ability to choose the right narrative point-of-view. This is where I struggle: not just the deciding of the point of view characters, but also whether to use the first or the third, and which sort of third.

All my stories start with characters, so once I have the characters right, I have their desire or motivation. Once I have the motivation, I have the journey and its opposition, the escalating tension of unmet desire, the plot. This makes it easy for me to write scenes, but not until I get the point-of-view right. So many tangibles and intangibles hinge on this decision—the point of view is like a camera, where you put it decides the telling of your story–what will be included, and what left out.

So, if I were given a wish, I wouldn’t use it for a scene, I would use it to magically tell me the point of view I should use to tell the story.

As a writer, do you find certain scenes difficult to write?

If not, what else do you find difficult about writing?

As a reader, do you ever pause to think about a scene, how it was written, or do you get carried away in the flow of the story?


Social media by Chrys FeyThis post was written for the IWSG. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for organizing and hosting the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) every month! Go to the site to see the other participants. In this group we writers share tips, self-doubt, insecurities, and of course, discuss the act of writing. If you’re a writer and a blogger, go join rightaway! The IWSG’s co-hosts this month are J.H. MoncrieffNatalie AguirrePatsy Collins and Chemist Ken.


Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you’d like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have posts delivered to your inbox: SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL , please.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

44 Comments

  • jmh says:

    Endings tend to give me trouble. The problem is, I don’t always know that–until an editor reminds me.

  • I am sometimes reluctant to write scenes where one of my favorite characters suffers. It can be any kind of suffering. Even when I know her or she will recover, it’s hard to set down and write about the suffering.

  • msw blog says:

    This is a great question, but so tough to answer I will be pondering this one for a while…

  • doreenb8 says:

    I agree with you the point-of-view can be so difficult. Sometimes I get three-quarters of the way through a manuscript and decide I need to change the point-of-view.

  • The first page is always the hardest – I suspect this is universal? However recently I came to the point when I had to write a scene where a relative rapes a young girl. That was the most difficult ever. Worse I was traveling and when I transferred it to my desktop I found I had lost a page and had to do that bit all over again!

  • Olga Godim says:

    My stories always start with a character, so choosing a POV is never a problem. I usually struggle with the endings.

  • I’d like to have someone do the tough job of setting a scene for me! Laying down all the description and other set-up. Then, I could just come in for the part when the director (me) says “take 1,” if you will. I love writing dialogue and internal description and action, etc., but the description to get there gets a little tedious sometime. Fun question and post!

  • Kuudere1 says:

    I would get help with an emotional conversation. I didn’t know how to have those at the time myself, so my characters always acted dramatic during them I stead of to their personalities, lol. Presently, I think I still need help with a scene regarding a character’s feelings getting hurt, because I struggle with creating a credible emotional profile for my characters. Eek.

  • Parul Thakur says:

    The part where I transfer my emotions into words is the hardest for me. And that’s because I wonder how will readers feel it? As words or as emotions. I wouldn’t do a good job if my emotions turn out to be just words for them.
    This is such a great thought starter for me today. I’ve written (what I would like) in a long time. Need to do that soon.

  • aj vosse says:

    I think… my biggest challenge is the constant switching between stories/ voices/ characters/first and third person. I mostly write short stories and am often working on a few at the same time. The challenge is not to get the water of each tale tainted with the mess of another! FUN!!
    PS – Promise…it keeps the mind agile… try it! 😉

  • JT Twissel says:

    Definitely a sex scene! I just can’t do it.

  • DutchIl says:

    Well, I am not a writer, etc, but whether it is writing or poetry I write with an open mind (“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief” Gerry Spence), I do not let the ideologies of others dictate my thoughts (“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realize how seldom they do”.. Eleanor Roosevelt) and I do not write for awards, recognition etc (“I do not do, say or write something to be seen or heard… I do, say or write something because it needed to be said or written…” (Larry “Dutch” Woller) ) … 🙂

    “The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” Gustave Flaubert

  • DJ Cockburn says:

    It’s the first scene, every time. I always know that’s the one I’ll end up rewriting to death, whatever actually happens in it.

  • Ronel Janse van Vuuren says:

    Figuring out which details to keep and which to leave out… sometimes I end up with three versions of the same scene and then I have to decide which one to keep and what to kill. Grr. But that’s what makes it fun 🙂

  • writershilpa says:

    I just get carried away in the flow of the story. Not being a fiction writer, I find every scene awe-inspiring! 🙂

  • I dread writing a scene where a character is doing a long dialogue in a conversation. It shouldn’t sound monotonous and it must bring out the depth of the character’s emotions in spite of a long paragraph reading.

  • Many authors say that correct POV choice, is the most important decision in the story.
    Once you know which character has the most at stake and you’ve pinned the most interesting narrative voice, the one that is captivating and really pops on the page, then your POV should become clearer. Of course there are other factors that contribute too.

  • I loved your last question. It helped reset the other questions for me. As a reader, I often get carried away by the flow of the story. If I’m into the characters and their problems, many of the nuances of writing fall away. Although I did read a novel last year which had a simile or metaphor on every page and for some reason that jarred me out of the story a few times. I think using imagery and good word choices can deepen a story, but if they are over-worked, they can throw me out of the story.
    As a writer, I struggle with beginnings, endings, and sometimes portions of the middle, but the beginning chapters are the ones which I stress over the most.

  • Mary Aalgaard says:

    POV is tricky. I try to listen to the voices. I have two strong ones in the current novel that I’m writing. I’m using first person, journal style, for one, and 3rd person for the other. It makes switching back and forth a little clearer.

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – I don’t do stories … but if I write the odd short story, then it’ll be without characters, and I just remember I must have a beginning, middle and tie everything up at the end!! – not easy … but I essentially just post – and read to understand the process. Good luck with your stories … cheers Hilary

  • Denise Covey says:

    Hi Damyanti. It’s the opening scene for me. It’s often difficult to know where to step into the MC’s story, but I’m getting there. All the best for your projects.

  • Nick Wilford says:

    I’m always a bit worried about first because it feels a bit restrictive to be in just one person’s head, so I usually end up plumping for third. But then, maybe it’s a chance to get to know your MC inside out, which can only strengthen the story. I should give first a go one of these days.

  • Jessica says:

    I only experience having trouble which POV to use once. Other than that time, it’s the easiest thing for me to decide. My problem is finishing the story. I’m pantser or was, so I get stuck in the middle a lot and unable to move forward. It’s a struggle to get over the writer’s block and continue, so I’ve now transition into a plantser. What I’m currently struggling the most is if it’s okay to sprinkle another language into a story that is written in English and what sub-genre I should chose for my romance stories.

    “As a reader, do you ever pause to think about a scene, how it was written, or do you get carried away in the flow of the story?”
    If I enjoy the story, I always get carried away. Once I’m done that’s when I look back.

  • If I’m totally honest, the most difficult scene always ends up being the one I’m currently working on.

  • rolandclarke says:

    I hadn’t thought of POV, but it can be a tough call. I was a 3rd POV writer and one day I experimented with 1st. Total game changer – even for the tough opener…still tough.

  • That most difficult thing I find about writing is the inconsistency in the desire to write. Sometimes for an extended period I filter stories in my head and reject them after constructing a partial story. Other times there is an urgency about writing everything that my thoughts construct so that I have to drop everything else and just write story after story. Each story as it develops can take several directions in order to reach a conclusion. It’s like choosing a road to travel at a crossroad when you really have no plan for an eventual destination. But in spite of that I have a love of writing.

  • Sha'Tara says:

    I never start with characters even if the first word is… “George was on his way home when…” George is not what is important but a situation, an issue, a problem. It can be simple or it can have universal overtones but it requires at least one character to face the situation and it flows from there. Other characters appear, either as “support staff” or antagonists. From that point of view no scene or chapter is ever difficult to write and if anything doesn’t fit it’s a simple matter of deleting it and carrying on as if nothing happened! Who’s to gainsay me? I’m the Writer; I’m the Creator; I give life and take away life! 🙂

    • What an interesting way of looking at it! To me, George is exactly what’s important – the situation, issue, or problem and how George deals with it is what makes George George, and what makes George relatable. The situation, issue, or problem is a prop to help us know George, and by knowing George, better know ourselves.

  • mcclellanelias says:

    I was all set to declare for sex scenes, then I read Ms. Daggerhart’s comment. Blurbs, query letters, and summaries are bad fothermuckers, enough. I cannot imagine writing full marketing materials from scratch.

  • Paul says:

    Very interesting question. The scene(s) that I have found to be the hardest are those short transitional scenes where the main character isn’t overly active but must do something to get from A to B.

    Of course in some cases, one just makes the jump, but in others, it is necessary and important for the protagonist to sit at a table and wait for someone and deal with the immediate environment–regardless of how mundane it may be. Am I making sense? 🙂

  • chemistken says:

    POV is easy for me. I always go for third, although I’ve dabbled with the idea of trying first, just to see if I liked it well enough to continue.

    I really liked Melody’s answer about the wish though. If I could be good at marketing, I’d go for that.

    • I like first, but sometimes I need to shift POV – or reveal something another character knows but isn’t telling, and first is very limiting, then.

  • I’d rather have a marketing genie. I hate marketing. Being able to do that with just a magical wish would be amazing. LoL …

  • Ryan Carty says:

    Oh, what a brilliant use of a wish! I also struggle with that decision. It changes so much of how you approach a work, what information gets shared, what path gets taken. Ugh, now I’m suddenly regretting what I used my wish to fix.

  • That is an interesting choice. I make that easy by always choosing the same POV–3rd person intimate. I really should vary this a bit.

  • It’s not a particular scene I find difficult, but rather the muddy middle. I use alternating 3d POV for my romances and 1st POV for my cozy mysteries–hardly audacious choices. As a newbie, I find it easier to stick with what readers expect. Perhaps I’ll experiment one day, when I have more published works. I wish you happy writing in April.

  • StuHN says:

    Mine would be anything technical so that the science/mechanics worked the way they should. I do research, but I know my head: it starts glazing over the minutiae and then I either drop it or just go with broad strokes. I’m facing this problem right now with my AtoZ. I know where I want to go, but the details of the how and why are fully formed yet. So, yup: technical stuff.

  • Usually, writing the opening scene is the toughest. Once the story gets going, the writing gets easier.

  • Meka James says:

    The POV is hard. I like writing in 1st more because *to me* if feels more personal, but I have attempted 2 stories so far in 3rd. As for *who* should tell, the advise I was always given is whoever has the most at stake in the scene (if you do dual POV). But it comes down to that. Which character would be most compelling? who do you hear first when the story comes to you? Little things like that can help you decide. Best of luck.

  • Kissing scenes are the most difficult for me.

    • StuHN says:

      Her lips parted. They were just a breath away from his. Closing her eyes, she wrapped her right hand behind his neck and pulled him in. Soft. His lips were soft. The tip of his tongue played the scented gloss she had put on before he came over. It was greeted by her tongue, meeting in a brush. Both retreated as their lips deeply met. They held the one breath between them.

  • Asking what scene is hardest to write feels to me like asking which chocolate chip is hardest to add to the cookie dough. I agree with what you said “All my stories start with characters, so once I have the characters right, I have their desire or motivation. ”

    I too start with characters, their primary personality trait and what they want, in conjunction with the world they live in. Sometimes the characters meander a bit, but that’s only when I don’t listen to them. The scenes arise pretty naturally after that.

%d bloggers like this: