Turning Tricks and Other Important Notes on Scene

Writing about writing can be as racy as the next blog-worthy topic. Hey, I weave in cute stories about my kids and moving tributes to my past and even some political panic. (Okay, political panic is only the subtext. See if you can pick it out.) So: you meet a friend for coffee. You chat, have a brioche, catch up on who she’s dating and what she doesn’t like about her job and what your kids have learned how to do (oink in a grunty little way when you ask, “What does a pig say?”). You get a refill of chai latte to go, exchange hugs, and leave to go grocery shopping. This is not a scene. Nothing happened. I don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t meet your friend for coffee or that she shouldn’t complain about the people she’s dating (new people, same complaints). It’s true that I did have a wonderful wise friend who advised me at one of my birthday parties to get new problems every ten years. However, one can live a perfectly decent life–maybe even a better life–with very little scene. (See my very first blog, which is about plot and how unavoidable it becomes over a lifetime.) No one wants to read your everyone’s-happy-and-nothing-changes book. Even you. Tell me if you’ve managed to sustain your everybody’s-happy-and-nothing-changes life for very long . . . Or do you go in and mess that up just for excitement? But sure, we WANT things to turn out well. That’s what keeps us reading as the characters get into deeper and deeper s***. We hope that the...