Phoning Epiphany


A little while ago, I had the epiphany about a critical scene not being quite so critical. I was shuffling scenes to make them work and my critical scene was rushing all the scenes around it. In short, nothing was working. My epiphany was to take a deep breath and let my characters breath a little, too. There was no need to jump from harrowing scene to harrowing scene.

During my shuffling, I realized that one of my scenes was going to have to go. I thought for sure it would be Scene A. I figured it wasn’t all that important, just a sweet little scene that showed the friendship between Julia and her roommate. It featured chocolate peanut butter ice cream, so I was a little partial to Scene A.

The scene I thought was a keeper had Julia melting down on the El, ignoring calls from her mother but answering a call from her boss. Turns out that, no matter how nicely written you (or my) description of the El is, phone calls just aren’t all that interesting. Very little action and a whole lot of yappin’.

So, out went the El and the ice cream got to stay! There was a little merging going on, but did I mention that the ice cream got to stay?

As I jotted ideas down for this post, I realized that I actually have quite a few phone conversations in Julia‘s first draft. I know that I need to cut them down or out, but with the distance between Chicago and Lexington being what it is, a quick spin in the car doesn’t exactly work. And I think scenes with email, chat or text would be even worse.

So, I’ll be trying my best to keep the phone conversations fresh and exciting. Right now, I’m plotting to have Julia on the move while she’s on the phone. Cut between phoning and action. We’ll see how that goes.

I can think of a few TV shows and movies that use the phone effectively, but many mostly involve hostage situations. I do want Julia to pick a lock and ram a car, so maybe I should throw some hostages into the mix.

Seriously though, any books spring to mind that use phone conversations effectively?


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