Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quick scene exercise

I'm finding this helpful when I start a scene, just to jot down preliminary answers (which I can, of course, then disregard if something else comes up):

1. What is going to happen in this scene? (Like "While out with Katya, Matt is going to run into his old Navy friend, and they're going to talk about the past.")

2. What is (his or her-- usually the POV character's) goal for the time of the scene? (This can be really minimal, like "Katya wants to get Matt away from his Navy friend and go to their romantic dinner.")

3. Does (he/she) get the goal during the scene? These are Jack Bickham's "ending answers":
  • No (why not, like "Matt's now too depressed to take her out because he realizes he made a mistake leaving the Navy")
  • Yes, but something else (what) happens too ("Yes, in my scene, Katya succeeds in getting Matt to go to dinner, but the old friend decides to come along too.")
  • No, and furthermore, something even worse happens ("No, and they end up having to drive the friend across town.")
4. What surprise or disaster can happen at the end of the scene which changes things and sends the reader to the next chapter?
(In my scene, the friend is going to be accosted at dinner by someone he and Matt know from the past-- who is in next chapter going to end up murdered.)

I always finds it helps to know what's at the end ahead of time, otherwise I would just end the scene at sunset or when the check came.

What are some devices you use to direct scenes, or do you draft and then revise, or????


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