Recently a photographer came to take a picture of my children to accompany an article for the newspaper in which I had been quoted. He took many, many pictures, altering the configurations and the props. In the end, two photographs of the very many were chosen. The photographer had created far more material than he would eventually use but this gave him a choice of the best for his purpose.
Then today I noticed this wonderful tweet from @johannaharness (http://www.johannaharness.com)
I’ve rewritten this last scene 5 times now. It’s like rearranging furniture in a room. I have to move it to see if it’s right. #amwriting
From this tweet it sounds as if Joanna approached the scene from different angles, or shifted the emphasis slightly each time.
One suggestion when writing a scene is to write it from each of the protagonists point of view to see the different nuances of the scene and what is most important to each of the characters. Of course you will probably have already have chosen a particular point of view for your book but what you reveal about a situation should always be done against the counterpoint of what you don’t mention or what the protagonist does not find noteworthy. A child might have noticed the cup cakes piled high on the table, her father the new ride on lawn mower through the open door, her mother the droop of the hostesses mouth. Or there may be somebody present who should be noticed or spoken to but isn’t. Now we want to know why.
As Claire King’s excellent article on the intent of writing explains it, everything we write should mean something, should add layers.
Whatever view you take in a particular scene tells the story in a particular way, suggests something. We come to know and love the style of certain film directors who choose particular unique ways of telling stories using different angles, shot types, character juxtapositions and cutaways to significant objects.
Our material is words and characters too, how we place them, the way they speak, the objects we conjur. Some of this, as for film directors, is intuitive and becomes a refined skill as we improve as writers. But it’s important to keep in our minds the visual, mental and emotional consideration of which is the best snapshot of the scene we are presenting, which material is vital and which should be left behind.