|Photo credit: Paumadou on Flickr|
Sometimes, it's not the writing itself that's off—it's the plot behind it.
When this happens, a writer is faced with many options: come back to it and try to fix the problem later, fix the reasoning or motivation surrounding the decision or outcome, or rewrite the plot point entirely.
The latter tends to sound least appealing to writers—just the word "rewrite" often makes us want to curl up with our manuscript in a corner and hide. But when the plot itself is the issue, it's often helpful to consider rethinking the plot point that needs adjusting, then rewriting it rather than reliving what you already wrote.
What I'm saying is sometimes it's helpful to explore alternate universes within your WIP.
Let's say your protagonist gets in a fist fight with a rival or another character he dislikes. In your current version your protagonist gets hit a couple times, then knocks the rival out, but the fight goes too quickly and it doesn't have much impact. Rather than rewriting the scene as is, you might want to try exploring other versions of the fight.
- Version A: Your protagonist goes in believing this will be an easy fight, starts off strong, then gets hit hard enough to knock him off balance (or injure him) and the rival gets the upper hand.
- Version B: Your protagonist gets hit a couple times, then overwhelms the rival. Rather than giving up, however, the rival pulls out a knife.
- Version C: Your protagonist wins the fight, then the rival attacks him from behind as he walks away.
- Version D: Your protagonist wins the fight, but goes overboard and injures the rival more than intended.
These are only a couple of options, but the point is this: when something in your story isn't working, you can always try out other possibilities. The best part is if you decide you don't like the way your alternate universe experiment turned out, you don't have to include it in your WIP. If you do decide you like the way your AU turned out better than the original, however, then you now have a more dynamic scene.
It's a win-win scenario, and it's one that I hope you experiment with.
Have you ever tried this type of rewriting? If so, how did it turn out? If not, what do you do to fix unremarkable scenes?