Writing Tip: Figure out your "Candy Bar" scenes in advance

Illustration for article titled Writing Tip: Figure out your Candy Bar scenes in advance

In an interview with So I'm Fifty, Above World author Jenn Reese talks about her planning process, including figuring out what her "candy-bar" scenes are:

I am an unrepentant planner. When I start working on an idea, I write everything down in a Moleskine notebook that never leaves my side – not while I'm at work, not while I'm asleep, not ever. The notebook is basically an external brain where I trap every single thought related to the book, including all the stupid ones I'll never use.

Candy-bar scenes are another big thing for me. First, I should note that "candy-bar scenes" come from author Holly Lisle (hollylisle.com) who has a lot of great advice on her website. I list every scene that I'm dying to write – a first kiss, a fight scene with a particular kind of weapon or in a neat setting, a surprising twist that I can't wait to spring on my characters. I have to know the big final scene of the novel (at least what it means to the main character), and it must be a candy-bar scene, a scene that I can't wait to write. If it's not, then it's not the right final scene and I have to keep thinking.

Once I've got the ending, I start to sketch out an outline – only a few brief sentences per chapter or just a chronological list of beats. I like to have structure, but to leave enough room for unexpected turns or for a side character to become more interesting. If I plan everything out too much, then it's not as fun for me to write.

Having said all that, I think processes should stay fluid. I'm continually changing as a writer and a person, and each story is different. I like to think that I'll keep adapting as I go.


Read the rest of the interview over at the link. [So I'm Fifty]

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I used to try this method when I was starting out, but the trouble is when you're writing the scene you really want to write is just around the corner. I'm actually a fan of the make-it-up-as-you-go-along school now. It means you have to make the scene you're writing now the candy bar scene.