22 November 2013

Scenes That Work

You have an idea for a scene in your story?  Great, just dive in and write your heart out.  When you’ve finished you sit back and relax, right?  Wrong.

Only after you’ve finished that initial first draft does the real work start.  Each scene is a mini story in its own right so you need to check that most of the elements of the Story Arc are present in each scene:

Stasis:  You only need to set the scene again if time has moved on from the last scene or the action has moved to a new location or a new character.

Trigger:  If the flow of your scenes is working right the trigger for this scene should have been in the previous scene for this character.

Quest:  What is the protagonist looking for in this scene.

Complication:  Every scene needs a complication or to be about overcoming a complication that was set in a previous scene.

Choice:  Someone in the scene will make at least a minor choice of some sort, even if it is just a choice to take action, allow an emotion or feel a feeling.   Make sure you show that choice to your reader as this is part of each characters development.

Climax:  The highpoint in the action/drama, normally near the end of the scene.

Reversal:  Not normally necessary for a scene unless the scene is all about a character’s critical choice and its consequences, as part of the overall story.

Trigger:  Unlike the overall Story Arc, most scenes end with the trigger for the next scene in this characters scene flow.  This keeps the story moving and the reader turning the pages.  Classically, this might be a cliff-hanger to the next scene.