Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

More on scenes and sequels May 16, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 3:07 pm
Tags: , , ,

Still reading my first draft and analysing the scenes, but the tool I’m using to record what I find isn’t good enough yet. I’m filling in the boxes, and I know what is wrong with my scenes, but I’m not seeing strongly enough how to fix them. (Part of the problem is I’m still using the old tool and not the new one I thought of last week!)

I read this excellent blog post on scene and sequel by Les Edgerton yesterday.

He talks about what is needed(and what writers do wrong!) in detail, but in briefly he says a scene is-

A. Goal
B. Conflict
C. Disaster.

Then the following sequel is-

1. Reaction
2. Dilemma
3. Decision (which becomes the goal for another scene).

My old questions for considering scenes- Who? Where? Action, Reaction, Decision- compressed things too much. It’s too simplified, and it totally omits the goal.

The new questions I made up are better (and why it took me all weekend to realise I wasn’t using them, I don’t know!)-

What does the POV character want?

What is he/she doing to get it?

What stops him/her getting it?

What does he/she decide to do about it next?

This leaves out a step  too, I think.  The reaction. I need to add in another question before the character decides what to do next- how do they feel about it?

LOL, maybe I’m making things too complicated!  But I want to go into the editathon with a solid robust plan for the rewrite. I only want to have to do one major rewrite, then just tweaks on the other passes through.

I think I’ll keep going analysing the first draft with the current questions (I don’t want to start totally over!) but will add a question about scene goal. 

Then when I’m planning the rewrite I’ll use the new questions to pinpoint just what needs to be in each section.

Fingers crossed it works!

Edited to add- Having added the question asking what is the character’s goal for each scene, it’s clear that a major problem is lack of clear goals. Things happen, but the characters, especially my heroine, aren’t proactive, they don’t go out there intending to change something. Cady seems especially passive, her only aim to to get through this and get back to her old life. Not good enough. This really needs work.

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5 Responses to “More on scenes and sequels”

  1. Les Edgerton Says:

    Thanks for the nice things you had to say about my blog post on Scenes & Sequels. It’s great to know it helped a fellow writer. If you haven’t gotten it yet, I’d highly recommend Jack Bickham’s “Scene & Structure” which is where I obtained most of my material. It’s one of my favorite books on writing.

    I’m adding your blog to my bloglist on my own blog. Hope it sends you some new readers!

    Blue skies,
    Les Edgerton

  2. Jinky Says:

    Reactions are always hardest for me, because I always hear Dr. Phil’s voice in my head saying, “And how does that make you feel?” Talk about unnerving.

    Try not to overanalyze it. Overanalyzing writing is like overworking bread dough. Sometimes it works best if you give it time to rise. One thing that really helps me is if I think about what’s giving me trouble right before I go to sleep. That way I can go over all of the possibilities without feeling pressured to choose one and write it down. More often than not, I have a pretty good idea of what works when I wake up the next morning.

    Good luck with your rewrite!

  3. waitingforthecall Says:

    Oh, I’m definitely overanalysing!

    I kinda feel I need some sort of plan to get my story out of the merde though. My first draft is seriously crappy. Things happen and they react, they don’t go out and make things happen. My heroine is supposed to be a successful businesswoman and single Mum, but she’s coming across as a TSTL victim. My hero acts out of character so often he feels schizophrenic.

    Maybe they do need Dr Phil. Maybe I do!

  4. Eileen Says:

    What if the h’s goal isn’t “to get through this and back to her normal life” but to get rid of any complications that keep her from the life she was happy with? Phrasing it actively is a start and a reminder to keep her active — she wants to end the hoopla, not wait it out.

  5. waitingforthecall Says:

    That’s exactly how I need to turn it around.

    Instead of having passive goals, she’s got to have active ones.

    I need to go back and re-read a few of my favourite Supers to see how the authors handled the characters’ goals.

    I’ve been turning your comment over in my mind- I think I have an answer!


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