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Escaping the Friend Zone, and Killing Other Darlings

Everyone’s heard the phrase “Kill Your Darlings” at some point in your writing career, yes? Those scenes we love so much because we’ve had dreams about them, or maybe they were the inspiration for the whole novel itself. Those precious gems we.cannot.give.up. We may even fight with our CPs and Betas and do our damndest to find a way to keep them.

But . . . while you’re working on saving that Darling, there was another scene type lurking around the corner that snuck up and bit you in the ass, and you probably didn’t even know it.

It’s called . . .

The Friend Zone Scene!


What is a Friend Zone Scene, you ask?

Well, it’s a very Friend-Zoney scene. Kinda cute, but clearly not perfect, not really all that exciting although it’s got good qualities, is easy to read, comfortable, and maybe it goes somewhere someday, but it probably won’t. You don't see it as a Darling, because it doesn't drive that cool of a car, but it's still there, leeching, dragging down your prospects, even though you like it, and . . . I just made you all freak out a little bit, didn't I?

Don't worry - this happens to us all, and as a freelance editor/author, I can confidently say that EVERYONE, yes everyone, has these scenes! But guys and gals, I ask you: You don’t date people you put in the Friend Zone for a REASON, so why would you put Friend Zone scenes in your novel?

Answer: you wouldn’t!

Your MS is prime locale, and if a scene wants to be in your book? It better EARN. ITS. PLACE.


SOLUTION: Make sure your scenes meet the 2 (two? that’s all? YEP! JUST TWO!) qualifications they need to have:

1. Have an Arc

2. Advance the story

Now, I know that was a lot, so let’s take these one at a time ;)

1. Have an Arc

Individual scenes, much like the overall build of the novel, should follow an arc. And (hint) it’s the same arc as the whole story.

  • A status quo

  • An inciting incident

  • A buildup

  • A climax, and

  • An endpoint (either a half-resolution, or a new conflict)

In our example world, we’re in a 50s soda shoppe (because I’ve been craving a Grease marathon. Hey, it happens.)

We open the scene with our status quo – where we are, what we’re feeling, what’s going on.