Your Least Favorite Thing To Write

If you don’t like writing it, why would anyone want to read it? Well, as I said last week, not everything that’s good is easy. I think every writer has a certain “type” of scene that trips them up. We know that sex sells, but erotic scenes can be very difficult to put on the page. Some folks struggle with the ‘quiet moments’, because it can be hard to craft interesting fireside chats between characters. I’ve heard of people struggling through climatic scenes before. And even though action-packed adventures are fun to read, by God can they be hard to write.

That’s my hair-pulling weakness – action scenes. unfortunately, I imagine my books like summer blockbusters, so they’re full of sword fights atop train cars, courtyard battles, exploding stained glass windows, car chases…you name it. And I enjoy reading them later. If I’m a one-in-a-million author who has her work adapted for film someday, those sequences would be fantastic on the big screen. I can’t write quiet literary yarns about the human condition. That ain’t how I roll.

But writing action is excruciating. It takes weeks. Action means movement, so for at least a full chapter, my characters are in constant motion. All five of them. And that motion has to mean something. The action cannot be sword-fighty fluff that doesn’t result in plot. The end of every fight or car chase or battle has the change the story in some way. A major character has to die, the villain has to gain strides towards their nefarious goal, a MacGuffin needs to be stolen, a protagonist has to make a heartbreaking choice. Something.

So you can imagine why this is hard! At least with erotic scenes, you’re only handling two characters (well….most of the time!). And while love scenes sometimes change the story, they can also pass as quiet interludes or fanservice. They’re usually rather brief. But action scenes can only be appreciated when they have a strong point. To write a fanservice action scene, where the characters get themselves into trouble to no real endpoint, feels empty. It feels like a waste of time. In my stories, action arcs take up 1-3 chapters at a time. 10% of my book – and your book – cannot be fluff. The action IS the plot. It cannot be an aside.

What are your least favorite scenes to write? Action? Sex? Quiet conversations? Endings? Openings? Transitions? Let me know in the comments!

11 thoughts on “Your Least Favorite Thing To Write

  1. I’ve managed to avoid sex scenes so far in my writing, and I dread the day that I have to write one. It will be the most awkward scene in history! I personally love writing the action sequences, but it’s much harder to keep track of all the characters when there isn’t any dialogue. I’m a firm believer that every scene should contribute something to the development of the story, whether it’s a plot point or development of a character. Anything else just seems like filler.

    • I had some crop up in my fanfic back in the day, so I can say from experiance that it’s hard, ha!
      I think that’s why some romance writers fall victim to purple prose, because they’re stuck trying to find the fiftieth different way to say “he put the thing in her thing.” But it’s been years. There’s no sex in my original writing. I’ll never say never, but I honestly don’t think I’ll ever squeeze it in. My characters are always in too much peril to stop everything and bump uglies :P

      I think keeping track of all the characters in action scenes is the hardest part. I try my best not to head-hop within the same scene, so I often split my group into two. It’s much easier to manage POVs of two different people in groups of 2-3 than of one person in a group of 5.

      And yup, every scene should progress the plot or develop character! I just give romance/erotica writers some slack on the inclusion of sex scenes, because that *is* what their audience reads for. But in that case, since the romance is the plot, sex scenes are often progressing character. Can’t escape it!

      • I dare a romance writer to phrase it like that! ‘He put his thing in her thing’. Excellent. I always find it odd when characters have time to get nasty right after they’ve escaped death or on the run. Makes no sense.

  2. Ugh. I’m so with you on the action scenes. I just find them so tedious, but they’re necessary, especially since I tend to write a lot of fantasy and science fiction. I put off writing an action chapter for Soulless until about a week before it hit publication! I don’t even like watching action scenes….I almost always fall asleep during them when we go to the movies, and my friends joke that an indication of a good action movie is that I stayed awake for most of it. In the past, I made myself practice writing action scenes, and I think that really helped. Maybe I should get back to doing that…

    • Heh, wow. In your defense, a lot of action in movies is tedious these days. “Action movies” are often fluff. How many different ways can can Bruce Willis beat someone up?

      Fantasy and sci-fi breeds the strongest action IMO. Action is served best when it supports a strong plot and characters you care about, so those genres serve each other well. A lot of thrillers and ‘action’ books/movies do nothing more than move unlikeable characters through nice set pieces.

  3. I’m not a fan of writing sex scenes, and as such, I haven’t. I’m worried they’d come off sounding corny. Action can indeed be hard to draft, because you have to be mindful of everybody in the scene and know what they’re doing the whole time. It’s really important to get the timing down.

    • I think restraint is the key to making a sex scene that isn’t corny :) Some of the most gut-wrenching love scenes I’ve ever read were some of the shortest. They offered a couple lines of useful, well-written, visceral physical detail, and then expanded the rest into thoughts/feelings. Now if you’re writing an erotic romance, I think readers expect a lot of detail. But for any other genre, there’s no need to be explicit.

      A sense of timing in action sequences is very key! And that goes for the whole book, actually. I had to cut my favorite scene from my most recent draft in order for Character A and Character B to meet up at the proper time. Otherwise, the reader would say, “Didn’t it take A an hour longer to do his stuff? How did A and B meet at the same time?”

  4. Action scenes can definitely be tricky so I totally relate there.
    I don’t like writing small talk or slice of life scenes. I find myself writing them like a summary paragraph than actually writing them out as a real scene. Ugh, I find myself going back and having to expand upon things many times.

    • I sometimes feel the same way. Small talk scenes aren’t the bane of my existance, but they have tripped me up in the past. Because I’m writing fantasy, my conversational scenes usually turn into exposition dumps, which I’m not proud of. It’s hard to write a conversation that’s 1) useful, 2) interesting, AND 3) natural.

  5. I dread sex scenes, because it seems the wording is heavily overused in romance. It’s difficult to make them tasteful, yet fresh and different. I’m also not a fan of endings. It’s the last impression you leave with a reader and could mean all the difference of whether they decide if they like it or not.

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