Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Love the Scene You’re With By Marie Wells Coutu

You have your story outline--if you’re a plotter--and your plan today is to write scene 23.

Or if you’re a pantser, you intend to pick up where you left off yesterday.

But. Life.

Your kids are home for the summer and need some attention. Or you got a phone call from a friend with bad news and you can’t stop thinking about her. Maybe those nagging chronic conditions have kicked in. Or you’re struggling with regret over some bad choices in your past.

Any one of these—or a myriad of other—situations could keep you from meeting your writing goal for the day, or the week. The scene you planned to work on won’t come to life because your mind and emotions are wrapped up in your current world instead of your story world.

When this happens, don’t let the struggle keep you from writing.

Instead, take a cue from the old song that advises, “Love the one you’re with.” If writer’s block and life are keeping you from writing the scene or the story you want to write, write about what you’re going through.

In other words, embrace your current life, create a fictional version, and “love” this scene.

Use the frustration you feel about your lack of time to write a new scene where your character feels frustrated. Take your worry for your friend or your sorrow and guilt over your past, and pour it onto the page in a short story. Write about your pain from the viewpoint of a character.

These characters and scenes need not be related to your work-in-progress, although they can be. The point is to capture the struggles and conflicts in your own life so you can draw on them to deepen the emotional impact of your fiction.

The actual words you write during these times may never make it into a completed manuscript. But the exercise can help in several ways:

1. You keep writing something, even if it’s not part of your work-in-progress. (Of course, if you’re staring down a deadline, you may want to find a way to incorporate it into that story.)

2. You can build a “library” of your own emotional responses. You might create a file of these ad lib scenes according to the primary emotion. The next time you need to write a scene dealing with anger or guilt or frustration, you can go back and read what you’ve written in that category to help re-create that emotion as you write the new scene.

3. You could wind up with a publishable short story to use as a lead magnet.

4. You might discover something new about your current characters or create a new character whose story needs to be told.

The important thing for a serious writer is to not let Life cause writer’s block. Use the events of the day, and the resulting emotions, to provide depth to your writing. If you can’t work on the scene you want, learn to “love the scene you’re with.”

If Life is keeping you from writing what you want to write, write about what you’re going through & “love the scene you’re with.” @mwcoutu @MaryAFelkins #SeriouslyWrite


Marie Wells Coutu finds beauty in surprising places, like old houses, gnarly trees, and forgotten treasures. When she’s not writing about finding restoration and healing through God-designed journeys, she enjoys taking broken things and making them useful.

The Secret Heart, her newest release, was named a finalist in both the 2018 National Excellence in Romantic Fiction Awards and the 2018 Royal Palm Literary Awards sponsored by Florida Writers Association. Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. Thirsting for More, the second book in the series was a finalist in the Selah Awards Contest and a semi-finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. An unpublished historical novel set near Golden Pond has been a finalist in five contests.

She grew up in Kentucky, has lived in Kansas, Connecticut, Minnesota, Iowa and South Carolina. With her handyman husband of four decades, she now divides her time between Florida and the Midwest.
You can find more about Marie and her novels on her Facebook author page, her website, MarieWellsCoutu.com or follow her on Twitter @mwcoutu or on Amazon.com