The Consequences of Caring

Every once in a while I sit down in front of the computer and pull open a story and feel… nothing. No inspiration, no real urge to continue on with what’s happening in the current moment. This happened last night, when a pair of characters were entering a section that could be described as ‘character-building conversation’.

Part of me wanted to have the scene. To have the characters talk about themselves and banter back and forth. Share their love of beansprouts and ginger ale. The kind of conversation you might have with a buddy at a bar.

But man, when I looked at the page and thought about that conversation, I just could not do it. Could not think of a way to make it interesting. I sat there for more than ten minutes trying to structure a scene around it, and slowly felt that creeping dread that the night’s writing was going to be lost to this dumb talk-fest that I thought was necessary for some reason.

The frustration turned out to be a catalyst. I realized that I didn’t really care about the conversation these two would have, and if I didn’t care, my readers probably wouldn’t either. So I threw it out. Devoted a line to it and then skipped to the next day, and a more interesting encounter. The writing came quickly then, and I was able to pound out a thousand words in under twenty minutes because I was having fun with the scene.

So, next time you think you care about something in the story and the writing isn’t coming easily, consider whether you’re really interested in it. Whether the scene itself is necessary. Because if you don’t really care enough to write it, your readers won’t care to read it.

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