So, first off, I wanted to clarify something from the last post-- be sure to read I Am Not a Serial Killer before you read Mr. Monster. It's a series, and the first book is just as riveting as Mr. Monster!
Also on the last post, I got an interesting comment from Michelle. She asked how you know if you've made a scene better or worse when you're rewriting it. I've been pondering this all weekend.
With the scene I rewrote, I didn't necessarily make it worse. I just found another way to write it that didn't work. So the question, I think, is really about what makes a scene work or not work. This is going to sound vague and possibly useless, but for me, it starts with a feeling. Whether I'm first-drafting or rewriting, sometimes a scene just plain doesn't feel right.
Of course, there's usually a reason it doesn't feel right. With the scene I mentioned in the last post, after I looked at it, it didn't work for a lot of reasons. There was too much exposition and backstory. It took too long to get to the point. It started with a flashback that didn't flow smoothly into the rest of the scene.
There are other reasons I've found that my scenes don't work. I tossed one in the first draft because I had a character do something he'd never actually do. I have a whole section in the middle that I'm going to have to completely rewrite because nobody does anything but SIT AROUND and talk. (Snore!) And often, I first know these scenes won't work because they just don't feel right.
Sometimes, though, I don't get that feeling and the scene still doesn't work. That's what critique groups are for. And sometimes, I moan about how horrible a scene is, only to find it's actually pretty good. The key is to look at the scene analytically and find out WHY you think it doesn't work (or why you think it does).
So, my friends, after all that vagueness of "feelings" on my part, I want to hear your part. How can you tell if a scene isn't working in your writing?