Revising My WIP
Changing Dramatic Scenes
In dramatic scenes, my POV makes a painful decision they didn’t want to make, something that changes how the story is running. This is one of the ways they keep from being a victim and push back against the plot. If you are familiar with Rosenfeld’s Make A Scene, not all scenes are dramatic. As it turns out, there are nine other scene types, and dramatic scenes are just one type.
When I started this, I thought I wanted to change eight scenes from something else to dramatic scenes. One of them was already dramatic so I put it in a different to-do pile.
What am I trying to do in a dramatic scene?
I am changing my story arc by forcing my POV character to decide to do something she doesn’t want to do. She is going to agonize over it, and she may very well become emotional and spill all over the page. But, that’s okay because she will pull readers with her and generate sympathy and understanding
So, what does a dramatic scene look like?
Every scene has an opening.
We start out slowly, using setting details, inner monologue, and small physical beats. We set up what emotional state our POV character is. And, as soon as we can, we let her feel like something isn’t right, putting her on their guard.
We also bring in another character or some force for her to act against because we want dialog and action, not just hand wringing.
Then we move into the middle of the scene.
We must make everything in our scene about forcing our POV character to decide to do something very different from how she thought and acted before. And we don’t want this change to be easy or fun. We want it to be hard and painful.
Something will happen which sets all this off, maybe something the other character says or does, or some action which happens. From this point forward, we want unrelenting pressure on our POV.
And we want things to speed up. How do we do that? We get our POV character and our antagonist into a back-and-forth ping-pong match. The big long paragraphs and sentences containing setting description, languid mood descriptions, detailed physical beats, and lines long dialog fade away. And we are left with much shorter dialog, fast little action beats, and emotion. Maybe the emotion boils over and our POV turns into a drama queen, or maybe she holds back and won’t show anything. Except…she still boiling inside.
Finally, we get to what I would call FINE! And my POV character gives in to her feeling or yields to the logic of the situation.
We take a deep breath, and end the scene.
We could jump into the next scene after FINE!, but if we do that very many times, our readers will start yelling at their kids or kicking their dogs because they just can’t take it anymore.
So, we slow the pace down, maybe with just a sentence or a single paragraph. Our POV character ponders what she just experienced and the meaning of life, or resolves how to go about her decision. Maybe she does this in her head. Maybe some lucky person gets to hear all about it.
How did I do in dramatizing my scenes
I had two things which helped me. I already had scenes written. And I knew how I wanted my reworked scene to help my story.
Using my coloring book, I took notes on what I already had in my scene, and how it applied. In every case, I needed to understand what decision I wanted my POV character to make, and why it would be so hard for them to make. My scenes usually had nuggets I could use, but finding them wasn’t always easy. And my scenes usually got longer. Gack.
In all cases, I was looking to carry out three things. I wanted a stronger, tighter scene. I wanted to clearly advance my story. And I wanted my main character’s circumstance to change.
Did I do that?
I think so.
I will revisit these scenes, along with all others, when I work on character arcs.
I decided to change eight scenes to suspense scenes. And I will write about my adventures when I get done reworking them.