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Writing a Difficult Scene

Updated on May 19, 2013

The first step...


Scenes that need to be written, but aren't easy

In writing a novel, story, fiction or non-fiction, we often come across a scene, chapter or issue that is difficult to write about. Not just difficult to write, as often is the case when we are suffering from the annoying writers block, but difficult to deal with prior to putting on paper/text. Scenes that bug us for days before we get the courage to put pen to paper and see what happens, scenes we worry for days about getting right, scenes that have the potential to be painful for the reader, not just the writer.

As with many a writer, many a novel or story, there are scenes that beg themselves to be written. Sometimes this is in order, other times it's out of the blue but you can see where you manage to get to the scene in many chapters times - it's just crying out to be written now, to get out of your head and onto the paper/page in front of you, consuming your waking hours, making other writing difficult.

Chapters or scenes dealing with sensitive topics such as suicide, death, alcholism, rape, abuse of any form, violence, victim responses are always difficult to write. Thinking on such topics can be difficult for the writer, particularly with personal experience of the topic at hand, researching may be even harder.

A fine balance exists between getting it right, and really badly stuffing it up. There is also a fine line between writing well, and triggering the reader for triggering sake. A good writer will want to make sure that they manage to walk the fine line of both getting it right, and writing it well. This isn't as easy as it sounds.

Research, as with any subject being written upon, is essential. Even with personal experience of the subject matter at hand, each person has their own experiences of the same event, or issue, even if the reader and the writer were present during the event experienced. No one person is the same - in their reactions, what triggers them, what they feel about the experience.

General information is useful - reactions experienced by numbers of people to similar events, societal reactions to similar events. Interweave this with the character's own experiences, and you'll have a fully rounded character, at least in this experience.

On a personal note:

If you are currently in this position - you are not alone. I am currently in the process of writing a difficult scene, one well out of order, yet I can see where it will fit. The getting it right, and writing it well are making for slow progress. However, it is sitting in my head, just waiting until I get that balance and it will all come flooding out, I'm sure. But - if you want some company - let me know! Will continue to write more hubs on writing, and my experience of the same.


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    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I have been in that situation and am again. I did not deal with it well before and don't know if I will this time around. This specifically regards the hero versus villain confrontation in a novel, the villain having been loved and admired by the hero.The coming months will tell if I can write the climatic scene well.