Move your scenes along with action, plot and setting.
Monday, November 17, 2014
STRONG SCENES BY RITA KARNOPP #writingtips
I think of my novel as the intricate weaving of a double hoop dream catcher (this is one I’ve made). The web is unified and patterned until it approaches a bead or fetish and it has to find a way to conquer it and move onto the next obstacle (as scenes in your book). It has a beginning, middle, and an end. No two dream catchers are alike.
Let’s clarify beginning, since I always start a story in the middle of action. Some might think the beginning of a dream catcher is the top, while others say the bottom, and again others believe it begins in the middle – unwinding like one’s life. Ultimately the writer gets to choose.
Each scene should catapult your reader into the next scene with questions, excitement, emotions, and even fears. Before starting the next scene ask yourself a couple of important questions:
1. Are my characters driving the plot?
2. Is my reader seeing the bigger picture and what was he/she doing at the end of the previous scene?
3. What is he doing now?
4. What evidence or facts need to be exposed, revealed, or uncovered in this scene?
I’m big on moving a scene forward with action. We know the key elements of action are time and momentum. The key to crafting sound momentum is to jump into action without justifying or clarifying anything.
So, instead of; Anna imagined what it would be like to strip naked and boldly wade into the lake next to Joel. Jump into the action; “You don’t scare me,” Anna stared at Joel and dropped her towel. Naked, she dove into the water and slid up next to him.
Now is the time to introduce a challenge or a shocking event. Think about the famous scene from Jaws . . . we can’t forget it, can we? You all know which one I mean. Yep . . . the scene when the shark pulls the girl down into the water … short choppy jerks . . . I was hooked – riveted is more like it. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t.
Now one important thing to remember – make sure you aren’t adding action that isn’t true to your characters. Keep characters and the action/reaction believable. In other words, don’t have your character who is deathly scared of snakes suddenly rattlesnake hunting to impress her friends. Believe me, if you’re afraid of snakes, no amount of self-determination can make that happen. (I’m speaking from experience here!)
Make sure your action comes before thinking about the action or result of her actions. “Jenna spit the disgusting stew back into her plate, then glanced up. Jacob stood with feet spread, fists on hips, and jaw clenched. She instantly regretted her thoughtless action.”
Tomorrow let’s discuss narrative summary within your scenes.