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Throwing in a scene "just for fun"

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Velka, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. Velka

    Velka Sage

    I made things bad for my protagonists, then I made things worse. (Almost) everyone lived through it and now they (and the reader) need a breather.

    It was really, really hard to write because I did awful things to characters I love and forced them to make some really hard choices.

    They're at the end of the sequel phase, they've made their decision of what to do next, but before they act on it I've written a scene where they're all together drinking, gambling, and blowing off steam. It doesn't have conflict, but it does have some personal stories and bullsh*tting between the characters that adds some flavour and character development.

    So here's my question, should I include it? Would you include it? The story can progress just fine without it, although a little bit of character backstory and relationship building between them would be lost. Part of me wants to write it off as fluff, but part of me LOVES these kinds of things (character development is the most important thing to me as a reader and a writer).
  2. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    I'm with you on asking this question.

    I used to be a firm believer in, "If it doesn't advance the plot, it must go!" Now, I'm not so sure.
  3. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    I wonder if you could just tack it on to an existing scene? Maybe, while the sequel itself takes place in the pub over a round while they lament the terrible thing that just happened, and then some graveyard humour starts to come out?

    I used to be on a Search and Rescue Team in my community. After ever call (even the deaths) we would go for a drink. We would all sit around in the pub and debrief what had happened. The tone would start sombre, but then the jokes would start flying. The tone would get lighter. We would just start 'shooting the sh*t' so to speak. We needed that light tone in order to move on and get on with the remainder of the search…. the next plan of attack. I wonder if something like that might work for you?

    Also, I sort of think about the scene in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark when we first meet Marion. THere is a good 5-10 min of Marion in the midst of a drinking game with a huge burly guy, then Indiana strolls in and she is all pleased to meet him before they talk about her father and she belts him in the face… The difference with this scene though (besides great character development and hinting at backstory) is that the drinking game comes into play later in the story, when Marion challenges the German as a way to escape capture…
    Velka likes this.
  4. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    There's nothing wrong with including a character-building scene. Even character-building chapters are fine.* Whether it fits for you in this situation will depend somewhat on your general pacing for the whole thing and for the section of scenes/chapters nearest to it.

    *Edit: I mean, scenes/chapters whose purpose is primarily character-building rather than moving the plot forward.
    Velka likes this.
  5. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    I was just thinking too, what about sub-plots? Do you have a romance sub-plot that could be featured? Not necessarily move the main plot along, but a sub-plot?
  6. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    I'm also in the camp that loves these sorts of scenes. Yes, there should be a purpose to every scene, but I really think that backstory, relationship-building, and slowing the pace are all valid story purposes.

    If you're still questioning it--or better, if you've written it and it feels too empty--I might suggest that you touch on one point of conflict, or raise one question for the reader. Ideally, it would be a conflict or question that ties into the story later, even if it's not central to the plot.

    In my opinion, there are goals beside delivering action and plot conclusion. Helping the reader form emotional attachments is one of them. Making the world and the characters seem real and living is another.
    Velka and FifthView like this.
  7. evolution_rex

    evolution_rex Inkling

    I think a way to make the scene relevant is to reference it or conversations that are discussed later in the story. Reuse some dialogue, creating a sort of motif of repetition (there is a term for this in writing but it escapes me at the current time) if you want. Just make sure you can tie it together somewhere.
    Velka likes this.
  8. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    If it's entertaining I don't see the harm. I think the amount of time spent having to read it should be taken into consideration of course.
  9. NerdyCavegirl

    NerdyCavegirl Sage

    Backstory is just as important as plot, as is showing lighter and darker sides of a character or situation. It gives more food for thought and makes the world more realistic. Not every moment in our lives advances OUR "plot", but it still happened and it still had meaning. :3
    Velka likes this.
  10. Russ

    Russ Istar

    Allow me to take the "contra" position on this one.

    It sounds to me like the scene has little value in the scheme of your work. They had made their decision on what they want to do next and now are just mucking about. As a reader I don't enjoy mucking about scenes. I now want to see them implement the decision they have made.

    I think scenes need a purpose to do one of three things, advance the plot, build character or increase tension.

    Without having read the work or the scene it is hard to say with certainty, but I would lean towards cutting it out.
    Velka likes this.
  11. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    I am ALL for scenes that are just "fun" or "interesting" without necessarily having to move the plot forward. Stories are meant to be entertaining, after all. Most of my favorite stories have scenes like that. I personally hate stories that are constantly rushing through the plot without ever taking a moment to breathe. I know a lot of people do like those kinds of always fast paced plot driven stories, but there are plenty of people who don't. Don't be afraid to cater to a different reader audience than the one most general writing advice is always pushing.
    Velka likes this.
  12. Velka

    Velka Sage

    This brings things into better context for me, thank you for sharing your experiences. All I could think was "they deserve to have a fun evening after being literally through hell and back", but this also brings in a very human element of our need to find camaraderie and humour in even the darkest of times.

    Which ties in very nicely to Nimue's observation:

    Some of their friends died, but they're still alive and kinda need to remind themselves that they are, especially since most of them understand that the 'next steps' will likely lead to more of them dying.

    I agree, it's just with this one it is in a different form than I usually use. A lot of my character building comes from conflicts between the characters and the world and this one is just so damn happy, and safe, and fun... I guess it threw me off.

    There's more I can do with it, there's potential to add in a bit of the romance subplot, although at this moment I'm not quite sure how, but now I have a bit more confidence in it's merit, so I will invest a bit more grey-matter into it. I honestly just wrote it for myself to be a little less sad about what happened, and what is to come, but found it made me so happy and figured a reader might enjoy forgetting, for a moment, the world was about to end soon too.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  13. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    I would say keep it. As a reader I want to know the charcters. I want to feel them and the way they interact with one another. I assume most of the world building is done by this point, but I also like to get an indepth experience of the world. You can go too far of course. I'm often accused of it in my writing - and yes perhaps eight pages devoted to describing a cabin might have been a little too much - but I still want some. My thought would be that it depends on many things including the genre - what will fly in epic fantasy may not soar so well in urban fantasy. But if it adds to the characters and the world, and perhaps a little to the plot, keep it. If it takes away from the pace of the book and you are writing a fast paced book, lose it.

    You might also consider that it could add to the drama / pathos of the conclusion. Not knowing your book, if they're going into the final battle, then this would be a way of raising the stakes as they know that some of them may not be returning from it. The celebratory drink before the battle.

    Cheers, Greg.
    Velka, Xitra_Blud and valiant12 like this.
  14. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

    I would include it. Scenes like this give characters depth.

    Velka likes this.
  15. Xitra_Blud

    Xitra_Blud Sage

    I see nothing wrong with it. I think that even in plot driven stories, there needs to be a moment where we can sit down and get to know the characters some more. It adds more to the story than one might think. It brings the characters to life and gives them a sense of realism.
    Velka likes this.

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