Friday, September 16, 2011

Scene and Sequel: Looking Back

by Scott Rhoades

This is the final part of my series about crafting a successful scene.
  1. Scenic Overlook
  2. The Goal of Your Scene
  3. Conflict and Disaster
  4. Sequel
If you've read this whole series, you now have the basics to create a good scene. It would be a good idea to go back to the first part and check out some of the references I mentioned. They'll give you more detail, and explain each element of a scene in greater detail, and probably much more effectively than I have.

You might also be thinking that feels like a paint-by-numbers approach to writing, one that stifles your creativity by trying to enforce a formula. I admit, that was my first reaction when I had this method thrust upon me.

But if you really think about it, this whole thing makes a lot of sense, even if it's cast in somewhat academic terms that seem bent on imposing structure over what is more-or-less a free-form art of storytelling.

All this scene and structure mumbo jumbo says, really is that, to have a story, you have to have conflict, which creates a problem that makes things get worse for your character. As a result of that problem, your characters have to react, which leads to the next problem.

That makes sense. And there's still plenty of room for creativity and innovative plot devices. You don't have to be like everybody else, even if you follow this structure religiously. You will, however, have a pretty solid plot and an interesting emotional story.

This structure does something else for you as a writer. It helps you combat writer's block. Because scenes and sequels lead to more scenes and sequels in a natural and sensible progression, you always know what you have to do next. If your last writing session ended with a disaster, you know your next one will begin with a reaction to that disaster, which leads to a decision, which leads to more conflict and goals for the next scene. And on and on it goes until your goals are achieved, conflicts are resolved, and the story ends. You know what needs to happen next, so there's less opportunity to get stuck.

Most importantly, your reader closes the book reluctantly after reading the last page, sorry that an emotional roller coaster of a read is over, ready to tell her Facebook friends that they really need to read this book.

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