It’s the MOST. WONDERFUL TIME. OF THE YEAR. No, not Christmas – although, naturally, I do have all our Christmas decor up and Christmas music loaded onto my work computer (even though our county has a shelter-from-home advisory in effect again, so I’ll only be in the office once a week to listen).

No, it’s National Novel Writing Month! And I’m participating once more. Turns out this is my tenth NaNoversary. Which would probably excite me a bit more if it weren’t for, you know, *gestures at 2020.*

Anyway, I’m rebelling again this year, as I have so often. The goal is to complete the first draft of Hungry Girls, which I’m hoping will clock in around 100k. That leaves me with just around 25,000 words to write for the month. Assuming, of course, that this draft really does end around 100k. The Chosen Grandma story was supposed to end there, too, and instead I blew past it and didn’t finish the story for another 60,000 words.

(You can learn more about both novels here.)

For a while, it was not going well. Admittedly, this wasn’t entirely my fault. I spent the election on pins and needles like everyone else, although part of me felt like the state of “who’s going to be in charge next” limbo was the greatest reprieve I’d had in four years. I stressed out way worse on election night 2016 – broke out in hives and everything.

The hives have hardly gone away in four years, but strangely enough, they’ve lessened in 2020. Maybe I’m getting acclimated to all the bullshit 2020 in particular has thrown at us. Or possibly it’s that I spent so much of my early twenties almost longing for calamity, for reasons that are too much to get into here, and 2020 delivered.

(Turns out I am the Fillyjonk Who Believed in Disasters.)

an illustration of the Fillyjonk from Tove Jansson's short story The Fillyjonk Who Believed in Disasters. all we see is a scared face peeping out from beneath a blanket
An actual photo of me in my early 20s.

I’m getting off track, especially since the election did not stymie my writing as much as I could claim it did. Mostly, the problem is that I was trying to write a fluff scene.

I’ve written fluff scenes before. Obviously, right? I’m aspec but hopelessly romantic. So there are always fluff scenes.

But the fluff scenes of the past have always had some serious underlying tension: a prior romantic history, secrets that would change everything if they came out, the people involved dancing around their feelings for each other because obviously they can’t just come out and say they’re in love.

Megan and Zafira are baby queers, though. And they just met at the start of the story. And they’ve been opening up to each other. And they admitted a few chapters ago that they like each other.

So…no prior history, no dark secrets, and no dancing around their feelings to be had. The scene was just…fluff. Two kids all happy because they like each other and they know they like each other and they’re ready for a bit of happy smooching before I Hurt Them.


Last time this happened, Megan and Zafira were on a maybe-date. I was still struggling with the scene at first, but they hadn’t admitted they liked each other yet. So there was that. And then I introduced some Sad, which both got my BBYs bonding on a deeper level and broke the fluff for just a moment so I could get through it.

But I didn’t even have that as an option this time. This was legit just a “give the BBYs a moment of softness and joy and smooching before the p a i n” kind of scene.

Eventually I started to struggle through it by leaning into Megan’s nervousness: Megan is an anxious, awkward bean, so even knowing Zafira likes her, it’s hard for her to just smooch. And then of course she’s cursing herself inwardly for having this kind of difficulty. That helped a little.

Then the election was called and I had the scene finished in a night.

So apparently it’s not that I can’t write pure fluff sans underlying angst. It’s that I can’t write pure fluff sans underlying when I am filled with angst.

(Not that Biden will magically fix everything, both because that’s not how our government works and because, you know…it’s Biden. But the UTTER RELIEF of knowing that stale Cheeto in the White House won’t be around much longer—)

Anyway, two weeks later the BBYs are well and truly Hurting and I’m hurtling toward the end of the book despite my early (and,,,current) struggles to keep up my word count.

But if someone wants to give me a method for writing pure fluff in the future, when I don’t have an election hanging over my head…I’d appreciate it.

orange and white text over a sepia toned lighthouse reads Insecure Writers Support Group

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3 thoughts on “Fluff Scenes: How does one even?

    1. Theoretically I’d love to be a morning writer, but in practice I have a hard time getting out of bed early enough to do anything before work! Plus I’m in grad school, so daytime is for homework, and after 8p.m. is for personal projects, at least for now. Happy IWSG to you too!


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