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I was in my favorite used book store and found The Scene Book – A Primer For The Fiction Writer by Sandra Scofield. I’m working through her exercises. Chapter five emphasized pulse.
In summary, I discovered the following. A scene’s pulse is the passion and urgency that drives the character to achieve their scene goal and their story goal. Every scene should build toward the story question.
Story and scene pulse provide the constant backdrop, scene by scene, for the entire story. Everything that anyone says, or thinks, or does, should serve that end. Characters must have passion and drive to reach their goal. And anything that obscures or muddies that effort needs t be removed. Continue reading
I intend to become a better writer, using strong verbs, making a little game out of it. Today’s strong words are prevail, measure, distort, minimize, solve, entail, contradict, rupture, recur, and focus.
Then shifting her weight, Tammy lifted one boot. Balancing on her other, she minced, not trusting her footing. She glared at three young men watching her. Hating her impractical three-inch heels, she readied for her next step in the new snow.
Not only did she risk falling and making a fool of herself in front of them, she was cold. Had reason prevailed, she would have worn a coat over her Chateau uniform. Instead, she shivered in penance for her foolishness.
Gazing into shop windows she saw little, trying to measure her feelings. She knew his interest in her. Something about him attracted her. But she dared not let hormones distort her reason and logic. Lesser in stature to him, she stood to gain much if he chose to favor her. But she could not minimize how dangerous it had become for her.
Everyone heard those rumors of maidens succumbing to his charm. Plied with his attention and gifts, they lost their heads. Enraptured, they soared to heights unimagined by them. Then, without warning, they found themselves bundled off to some convent.
From inside, bespectacled eyes peered at her.
Last week, I did exercises from Chapter Three of The Scene Book – A Primer For The Fiction Writer by Sandra Scofield. When I got to the sixth question, I deconstructed one of my original scenes. The results dismayed me. That ate at me to the point that I decided to go back and repair my scene, and revised it.
6. Cleaning Up Mud – Study one of your scenes. List the beats. Repairing the beats will give you a revision outline. If you see that the action is not clear, make it so. Sometimes the fuzziness comes from failure to put the scene firmly into place. Then you can make the beats escalate in tension to build emotion. Look to see what the responses of the characters are.
So, I sat about deconstructing Scene Seventeen. First, my scene had been part of a larger scene. But, on closer examination, it felt more natural to break it into three parts. After doing that, I set about analyzing it.
I wrote the original Scene 17 as part of my WIP, Scepter’s Sacrifice. As part of my study on scenes, I analyzed my original scene, and wrote about my analysis in another post. This scene, as rewritten, uses techniques suggested by Scofield, in her books.
1 – Birds called out. Others joined in. Deheya stretched. Cold hair poured in. She gasped, pulling her cover tight around her. Shivering, she hugged herself, trying to warm up. Her legs were cold. And her jaw ached.
2 – Someone snuggled closer to her.
I wrote this scene, originally, as part of my WIP, Scepter’s Sacrifice. As part of my study on scenes, I analyzed this scene, and wrote about my analysis in another post. I updated my scene, using Scofield’s approach of defining physical beats first.
2 – A bird called out, greeting the gray, misty gloom. Another joined in. The world awakened to a new day. She remembered. Stretching, more cold air poured in. She gasped.
I was in my favorite used book store and found The Scene Book – A Primer For The Fiction Writer by Sandra Scofield. I’m working through her exercises. The third chapter, The Focal Point, was short and had no exercises.
To my surprise, I found two and a half pages, and nothing to write.
But what she did talk about fit perfectly with earlier exercises on the physical structure of scenes. Good scenes have a focal point, something our scenes build up to, and ramp down from. Maybe they happen early, or near the end, or somewhere between.
Since I’m still reeling from the earlier chapter, and how unhappy I was with the scene I picked to “unmuddy”, I will go ahead with my plan to deconstruct it. And I will apply the idea of focal points.
I was in my favorite used book store and found The Scene Book – A Primer For The Fiction Writer by Sandra Scofield. I’m working through her exercises. The third chapter, Beats, was an eye opener.
I’m appalled this posting is nearly 3,700 words. I can’t imagine anyone reading to the bottom of it. So, let me summarize.
This exercise was difficult in many ways. Unlike other books, I am unable to complete exercises in one setting, usually needing two or three days. My answers are quite long, in fact longer than what I feel comfortable posting, so I often only post summaries of my answers. But what has been so hard for me to face is what I’m learning about my WIP. I’m not very good.
And my WIP isn’t very good. I was foolish to ever think I could write well enough to put out a quality First Draft. If I hope to salvage my story, I have a monumental rewrite ahead of me. My friends on Scrib warned me of this, telling me that I was trying to write my Great Work at the same time I was trying to figure out scenes.
Now you know everything I learned. And…you don’t have to read any further.