Friday, January 29, 2010

Constructing Scenes

Scenes build your story. They usually include action and should have three parts: a goal, conflict, and an outcome. So, you have a character who wants something (goal) and must do something to get it, but has problems (conflict) and will either win or--since fiction mirrors life--lose (outcome). Let's take a look at the three parts of a scene in more detail.

Goal: needs to be specific and clear. This way your character can be proactive and move toward achieving what he wants.

Conflict: should build excitement, interest, and show the desire and courage of your character when he is confronted with challenges, but continues to "battle" his way through.

Outcome: will have your character win or lose. The idea is to let it be okay for him to sometimes lose and be confronted with a new challenge to conquer. This will build suspense and keep your reader interested. Also, your character becomes stronger. He shows determination to achieve his goal when those obstacles stand in the way, and yet he manages to pull through and live on. Remember, failure makes us human. But of course you will want him to win some, too.

In writing scenes, there are some guidelines to follow, which will help make you more successful. The following are some of those pitfalls to avoid or features to include:

--vary the length and complexity of your scenes
--wind up the tension as your scenes move the plot forward and keep your character challenged
--remove scenes that aren't useful ( to decide -- if you can remove it, and it doesn't affect the outcome or clarity of the story, you probably can do without it)
--your scenes should either include character interaction or experiences that will affect other characters
--include realistic emotions
--maximize your opening and closing scenes
--keep a few secrets along the way in some of the scenes, leaving them to be revealed later on
--to achieve a very active scene, make your paragraphs, sentences, and dialogue shorter to gain that intensity

Hopefully, this helps in your scene writing. Remember, a story is told through scenes, like building blocks put together, they construct your story from beginning to end. It's more than just a compilation of words, sentences, and paragraphs.

For more information, read: Thanks, But This Isn't For Us by Jessica Page Morrell


Hunter said...

Good advice as always.

teacherwriter said...

Hunter ... thank you, but of course. :-)