Stephanie Burgis
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I just had one of those writing conversations (over the phone, this time, with Justina) where I could actually feel the lightbulb lighting up over my head: Whoa. So that's how I do it!

Which was then followed by finally breaking a long, long spell of writers' block on Congress of Shadows.

I had told Justina that it was making me crazy to try to think up a new transition scene to go between my new opening scene and a later scene in the novel (the second appearance of that character). Instead of suggesting a good scene, she said: "So don't have a transition. Just go straight to the next interesting bit. Readers are smart - they'll figure it out."

My first thought: I can't do that. My second thought: Why not?

And I realized - while talking to her - that if the only point of the new scene was to give a transition, then no wonder I didn't want to write it. And if I was too bored by the whole concept to force myself to write it down...well, then, why would anyone else want to read it?

Reading through the novel again, I inserted one explanatory line (in a different character's scene) - and voila. The transition worked, with the addition of only about 9 words.

And suddenly I'm back in the novel again.

Thank God for other writers. Sometimes I think my contact with fellow writers (and I'm particularly lucky to be married to one who has to talk to me about my novels ALL THE TIME) is the only thing that keeps me sane and productive. I could never be like Emily Dickinson and sit (and sew) quietly with no one to talk to about my writing dilemmas.

(Although now that I've typed that last paragraph, I wonder - is that even true of Dickinson? Or did she actually have a lively literary correspondence that kept her going in her isolated lifestyle? Does anyone out there know? Now I'm curious...)

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