Last thing watched: Grey’s Anatomy
on the iPod: All or Nothing by Cher
Tom Clancy was once quoted as saying: “The difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to make sense.” 😀 So let’s talk about the scene you’re writing right now. Whatever it’s about, it should have both a purpose and make sense. And the important questions to ask yourself are:
- Does this scene advance the story forward?
- Does it answer or raise a question?
- Does it reveal character or plot that the reader (and/or other characters) needs to know right now?
- Does it create tension?
- Can it be amalgamated with another scene and still achieve the same result?
Apart from chapter 1, scene 1, I like writing dialogue. Loooove writing dialogue, in fact 😀 So in my wip, when my h/h sit down to dinner, you can bet there’s gonna be some dialogue happening. I don’t actually map out the scene, but if I had to, here’s what it’d be like:
- scene opens – dinner in hotel restaurant
- VP – both, starting with hero, ending with heroine
- scene reveals – part of heroine’s past and beliefs to hero; heroine is aware hero wants her
- scene ends – kiss at heroine’s door
- scene purpose – up emotional tension, reveal character
I ask myself with each and every scene: “What is this character’s agenda?” What do they want to achieve from this? Do they get it? If not, why not? And how does this change the course of the story? With my scene above, the hero’s agenda was to convince the heroine to go on a date. The heroine’s agenda was to remain professional and keep control of her growing attraction for hero. And importantly, what occurs prior to this scene is setting the stage for what’s to happen in this one… and the next. And the next. It’s a build up, where characters can gain or lose some minor goals but with ultimately the major goal to be addressed towards the last scene/s of the book. This way, your reader will still be invested in your story. For e.g. Indiana Jones achieves many minor goals in Raiders of the Lost Ark : he has the medallion translated, he finds the Map Room, then the Well of Souls, discovers Marion’s alive. These are all minor goals that feed into his one big goal – to get the Ark of the Covenant. Similarly, Luke Skywalker finds Ben Kenobi, they get transport out of Mos Eisley, he rescues Princess Leia. All minor goals that feed into his one big goal – defeat the Empire.
Think cause and effect to help with the ending of your scene, to get you onto the next scene logically. Ages ago I read a great article by the wonderful Keri Arthur on Plotting the Paranormal which applies to all genres, really. Not only did it make a whole lot of sense but it also helped enormously with my story direction. For example: you’re writing a scene where your heroine comes home from work one day to discover someone’s broken into her apartment and stolen her great-grandmother’s necklace. What does she do?
- get a dog
- get the locks changed
- hire a bodyguard
- move in with her mother
- ask the cute retired cop down the hall to watch the place
- track the guy down herself
- curse, file a police report then do nothing else
Whatever direction you take, it should take you closer to your ultimate goal of your story. For a romantic suspense, the bodyguard or cop scenario would work. A chick lit or romantic comedy? Definitely the dog and/or moving in with her mother. Urban fantasy? I can so see her tracking the guy down, definitely kicking his ass in the process 😀
And again I digress… This post is supposed to be about scenes, not some cool setups for books-not-yet-written 😉
So now it’s over to you. Anyone want to share your scene purpose and what will happen after as a result of that scene?