June 24th, 2015

ISeeYou2

Writing Excuses 10.25: What Makes a Scene?

Writing Excuses 10.25: What Makes a Scene?

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/06/21/writing-excuses-10-25-what-makes-a-scene/

Key points: Scene as scene-sequel bit. Smallest does one of those, while longer may do both. Scene begins where a character figuratively walks on stage, and ends where we cut. "Walks on stage" can be misleading because we often start in the middle of action. Scene controls pacing. Raise questions, struggle with questions or conflict, and end when something changes. MICE... central question or conflict. Cut or through transitions between scenes? Scene as a particular idea. Why use scenes? Pacing and practicality. Scene transitions signal to the reader that we are making a change. Metaphorically, using scenes is like understanding chairs at a molecular level. Or maybe understanding the pieces of chairs so you can put one together? Scenes often have a solid ending, that completes a clear arc of motion. How do you know when your scene is finished? Howard's nose tickles. For Mary, it feels right. Mechanically, the scene provokes the reaction that you want to create. Try using the MICE quotient as a diagnostic tool -- is there a point where the needed information is clearly available? Sometimes add a denouement, to make sure the reader is not too comfortable by raising a new story question. Scene length can be compared to opera and one-act plays -- a long opera may have long intermissions, while a 45 minute short play probably can't.
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[Brandon] We are out of time. Mary, you have our homework for this week.
[Mary] Yes. So what I want you to do is I want you to... What we've been talking about is the function that a scene serves. What I want you to do is look at the next three or four scenes of what you're writing, whether that's a short story or novel, and decide what the function is in the story. What is it doing to progress the plot? So that's the function. Then I also want you to decide what your main character's goal in that scene is. What they are trying to accomplish. So identify those two things, make sure that you know what those are, and then look at where you're starting and stopping those scenes, where you're planning to start and stop them, to make sure that you're doing that in a place that will serve those two pieces.
[Brandon] Excellent. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
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