Thursday, October 21, 2010
Not all Change is Created Equal: A basic guide to page turning scenes
The first basic premise Holly touches on is the basics of a scene: Two simple steps must be included in order to call it a scene.
1. A thing to be changed.
Sounds so simple doesn’t it? It was such a light bulb moment for me when I read this. Essentially, you’re not writing about a character but instead about a character who changes. That’s your hook, that’s what makes your story compelling. Page—turning quality.
And of course you’ll need to have the building blocks of the scene to build with: character, pacing, conflict, dialogue, action, description and backstory. If you have your characters sitting around talking about what they plan to do next, cut the scene. It’s not compelling enough to bring about a change. Instead, start the scene with them doing it. In today’s fast paced world, people don’t realize that while the world is evolving around us, so do our tastes and hobbies. Our attention spans grow shorter and shorter, so must our writing grow and change. Which translates to every scene must count. Every scene must change. Every scene must show growth and move the story forward.
Now I’m not going to give away all her secrets as you’ll just have to get the book yourself at http://www.hollylisle.com/ but I will give one or two things that helped me find my "aha" moment.
Getting the basics down on paper in twenty five words or less can help you focus on your main plot.
Sometimes we just need to know what we’re trying say before we actually say it. I know how hard it is to condense a 100,000 word project down to twenty—five words or less but sometimes that’s exactly what we need to give us insight into what we need to say.
Characters are such a complex thing it would take an entire book to explain this part of a scene, so just make sure that you know your characters. Know what makes them tick, what they want, what they’re willing to do to get it and more importantly, what they’re not willing to do to get it. And then set them in the absolute worst possible point in the story and watch them squirm. Don’t ever be nice to your characters, whether it’s an outside conflict that you’ve set them in or an internal conflict. Be harsh. It’ll do them some good.
So to wrap this up I’m going to give a fun little exercise and see what everyone can come up with. This is just for fun and I’m going to participate as well. At the end of the day I’ll post my own little exercise. Holly uses this exercise in her book and it completely changed how I looked at scenes. I’m going to twist it a bit though to fit in here.
Put a character someplace alone. In an empty church, in an old barn, in the desert, in an attic, or even in a bed trying to go to sleep and in 200 words or less, bring about change. Change the scene somehow, someway. A new character stumbles in the room, or an internal conflict comes into play. Show me the change! Good luck and have fun with this, and feel free to discuss the examples, I'd love to see what everyone thinks about the entries. And more importantly, write and count it toward your word count for the day because we all know that every time we write, we get better. Practice makes perfect, after all.