might find this cliché less cliché, if I had at some point experienced
something like it in real life. Maybe this actually happens among some people,
but as far as I know, it mainly happens in dumb novels.
And even in some not-so-dumb novels. In fact,
the example I’m thinking of is from none other than C.S. Lewis’s none other
than Space Trilogy. In the third book, That
Hideous Strength, there is a scene near the end where the ladies of the
story are preparing for…a banquet, or something of the sort. (Frankly, That Hideous Plot really confused me.)
They all are dressing up for the occasion in some fantastic clothes, which,
though they would probably amaze me if I saw them, always fail to impress me
when mentioned in this kind of context. There’s a lot of general oohing and ahhing—you
know, like ladies do…about clothes.
Okay. So I’ve revealed that I’m not a girly
girl. My point is, whether or not these things actually take place among more
typical humans, how hard-hitting and memorable is this scene? Of course, in
Lewis’s version of this scene, they are at the same time talking about other
things besides just the gorgeous gowns. If they weren’t, the scene would be
absolutely superfluous, and I would be pretty disappointed in Lewis. But,
seeing as the scene shouldn’t be completely deleted, what would you do to fix
the predictability of it all? Predictability
is deadly. Readers are bored to death with it. As soon as I see the author
setting up for this scene I think, “Okay, here we go again.” The combination of
the flurry of sumptuous lace and ruffles, girlish twitter, and perhaps some
demonstration of how the characters’ relationships have developed, you really
don’t have to keep reading to know what is going to happen.
It’s important to have unique scenes in your
story. The more creative your settings and situations are, the more impact they
will have. It’s true. Think about times when you were in an odd place, doing
something unusual. You remember times like these. When you’re an author, you
have the ability to manipulate setting and situation to your advantage. You
aren’t restrained to use anything just because you think it’s typical.
If you’re going to have a scene where your
female characters are talking—hopefully in a way that moves the plot—try
something new, something that will engage your readers.
Try interesting things:
from a freak hailstorm in a telephone booth
maintenance on an ancient pipe-organ
the rails on a railroad bridge
underneath the docks at a public beach
get the idea I think. These kinds of scenes will force you to be creative,
rather than following the molds of a hundred scenes you’ve read just like this.
If more novels had more scenes like this, more novels would be unforgettable.