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What I’m Writing: Awkward Scenes

March 17, 2012

When writing a book about teenagers, it’s only fitting that there will be very some very awkward moments, since, you know, being a teenager is a highly awkward process. My goal in writing is that my characters and their situations seem real and relatable instead of idealized and perfect. Not that there’s anything wrong with characters that are obviously too cool and perfect and confident to be “real”—sometimes that’s exactly the type of character I’m hoping to find when I crack open a book. But for me, I want to write characters that are dealing with the same issues and scenarios and feelings that most teens face on a daily basis.

And because my WIP deals with a long distance relationship, there are a lot of awkward, self-conscious moments for both my characters, especially during the few-and-far-between instances that they are actually sharing the same space and breathing the same air and trying to figure out what they should do with their hands.

But what’s interesting for me is that when I write, I try to “see” the scene in my head and then interpret it into words. And I’m one of those people who, when they watch a really awkward or embarassing scene in a movie or on TV, gets awkward and embarrassed for the characters and can’t hardly stand to look at what’s happening on screen. Which has created a couple really bizarre moments for me this week as I’ve been writing because I’m all, “OMG I CAN’T,” until I remember that I’m the one coming up with all of it and therefore I have to.

That probably makes absolutely zero sense, and y’all all probably think I’m a crazy lady, but, so it goes.

And now, I’ll be a brave little writer and share with y’all a little slice of one of these awkward scenes.

So, the set up for this scene is that Dan and Willa are stranded in Chicago for an amount of time because of a . . . reason and so their parents get them hotel rooms in the same hotel. One thing leads to another and they end up going to a drug store to buy provisions for the one thing that leads to another (hahahahahaha) . . . and then Willa freaks out a little.

When we got back into the hotel room, the awkwardness I had been feeling didn’t pass. I suddenly had no idea how to act or where to sit or if I should just get naked or not. After a couple moments of indecision, I decided to try and act as normal as possible. I hung up my coat and took my shoes off. My toes were freezing, so I grabbed another pair of socks out of my suitcase and put them on. Then I settled myself onto the bed, sitting cross-legged. Because I wasn’t sure of what else to do, I turned the TV on and stared at it.

Dan put the Walgreens bag on the table next to the bed and then sat next to me. He also stared at the TV. I wanted to say something flirty and witty and cheeky, but my mind was drawing a complete and total blank.

“I should probably check in with my mom,” I said. What the hell was I thinking? There is hardly anything less sexy than bringing up my freaking mother. There was something severely wrong with me.

“Ok,” Dan said before grabbing the remote and changing the channel.

The phone rang a couple times, but she didn’t pick up. She was probably already at work. I put my phone down and tried to think of something else to do to quell my nerves and keep me from saying anything else.

“No answer?” Dan asked me.

“Nope.” I hated how uncomfortable I was. Surely he was picking up on it and it wasn’t just me. But he seemed so relaxed and normal and I didn’t understand how he was pulling it off.

“Are you hungry?” I asked him, hoping that he’d say yes and then we could spend the next ten minutes figuring out what we wanted and then be distracted by the food.

“I could eat,” he said. “Do you want to order room service?”

“Sure,” I said with a smile I hoped was attractive and not tense.

He grabbed the menu off of the desk and scanned it. “I think I’m gonna get the western omelet,” he announced before handing the menu to me. I looked at it, but my hands were shaking so much that I couldn’t really read it. I handed it back to him.

“Just order me whatever,” I said.


“Yeah, I’m not picky.” I had to calm down. I had no idea how to calm down since Dan was sitting on the bed with me, looking comfortable and confident. His sense of self was intimidating. I had to get away from him. But since we were in a freaking hotel room, there was really only one place I could go to do that.

After he finished ordering our breakfast, he put his arm around me and gently rubbed his thumb up and down my arm. The innocuous movement unhinged me. I suddenly stood up and said, “I’m going to take a shower.”

“Should I call downstairs and tell them to hold our food for another half-hour?” he asked. God, he was so thoughtful. But the implication of what we might do with that half-hour terrified me.

“Um, it doesn’t have to be that long. I just need to wash off real quick,” I said hurriedly before disappearing into the bathroom and shutting the door hard behind me. I turned on the water to basically scalding and stared at myself in the mirror until the steam made me nothing more than a hazy silhouette.

© Bethany E. Larson, 2012

Please do feel free to give me feedback on this! And if you have absolutely no idea what’s going on and feel totally confused, click here for the post that explains what the book is about. 😉

I hope you’re all having a lovely Saturday!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jasmine permalink
    May 12, 2021 8:36 PM

    I am definitely late to respond, but your writing is great. I couldn’t have written it any better myself. Actually, I am having trouble writing a scene where someone spills coffee. It may seem pretty self-explanatory, but I can’t picture what my characters would say next.

  2. March 17, 2012 11:34 PM

    Oh my god. I love awkward scenes. So much. I think there’s something about torturing characters that feels so real and relatable.

    I love your writing! This scene is great. I love that we hear her thoughts throughout this, sense it gives a sense of who she is. I think you should amp it up and make it even MOAR toe-curlingly, face-palmingly awkward. Because that heightening torture is just so much fun to read. Mwhaha. 🙂

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