Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Scenes

Back to The Techniques of a Selling Writer bu Dwight V. Swain. This book is so full of advice to writers I'm on my second copy.

Just what is a scene. Like a book, a scene has a beginning, a middle and an end. But there's also more to the scene. The scene helps develop conflict in the story. What it needs is a focus character, hero, heroine or villain. For the scene to work, the focus character needs a goal. This goal may be a segment of the final goal. Say the final goal is to win the love of the character's life or to find the murdreer, to defeat the aliens, or to win over the evil sorcerer. Each scene is a segment of one of these goals, but the scene takes the character step by step to the goal. The goal is what the focus character wants to achieve in this scene. Maybe to fina a clue to the murderer, maybe to get a first date, maybe to learn a particular spell, or find a way to trace the alien ship.

To bring the scene alive there needs to be conflict. Opposing forces always make for interesting reading. Without conflict, the scene falls flat. What is keeping the hero, heroine or villain from reaching the goal of this scene? Sometimes the conflicts aren't strong and if they aren't strong enough the scene falls flat. Bickering between two characters isn't real conflict. Conflict means a struggle. Making achieving the goal too easy for the focus character leaves the scene flat. So build the scene with conflict so the character is headed for disaster.

Disaster is the last part of a scene, When the character succeeds the story is over, even if they win a small concession, this can not solve their entire problem. There must be some kind of doubt that the character faces defeat in the overall scheme of the story. Maybe the focus character appears to win his goal but the opposing character isn't happy with what they have agreed to. This can be shown through the eyes of the opposing character rather than the focus character.

So build each scene as carefully as you build the entire book and if the character seems to win find a way to show the win is only a temporary step on the path to finding the entire goal of the story.


Rose Anderson said...

Nicely put!

Melissa Keir said...

Thank you for the advice. I always find it to be helpful and full of great things to try.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the excellent advice!