My WIP’s Fourth Revision
Action, Contemplation and Dialog Scenes
Now I’m on to more writerly stuff. Specifically, I’m trying to make my scenes do what I want them to do.
But…what does that mean?
I’ve come across three how-to-write-books books which helped form my view on scenes. Jack Bickham taught me how to start a scene, keep it going in the middle, and how to end it. Sandra Scofield taught me dialog, action beats, description and POV internalities layers. And Jordan Rosenfeld taught me ten scene types.
And it’s those scene types that I’ve turned my attention to. But before I got started I went back and reviewed all my scene types. When I installed scene types for Revision Two, I had six action scenes, nine contemplation scenes and 17 dialog scenes. But…a lot changed since I
thought I closed the book on worrying about scene types.
In my original WIP I loaded up on dialog scenes through Part One. Guess what? Readers thought my story took a long time to hit its stride. I suspect I had a structural problem, compounded by a poor choice in scene types.
I tried to fix the structure problem by re-imagining how Part One works. I understood, from Rosenfeld, that the First Scene Situation needed to go on beyond the end of Scene One. What I hadn’t really understood how to use such a situation to build story momentum. But, this time, I focused every scene on forcing characters to react to that situation. Now? I think the story holds together, better.
I also changed the mix of scenes in Part One, with a greater emphasis on dramatic scenes at the expense of dialog scenes. Now, I have
one two action, one contemplation, eleven five dialog, four ten dramatic, and five six suspense scenes. And the rest of the story takes a somewhat greater tilt toward dramatic and suspense scenes, with my intent to tighten story pace even though wordage grew a bit.
Did I do it right? Only the beta readers will know for sure.
What did I change?
I revisited action scenes in earlier posts. Since I’d already extensively reworked my fight and battle scenes, this was my third time through. One interesting thing I discovered for my battle scenes was how little action I actually had. I usually wound up with dramatic or suspense scenes preceding and succeeding the action. Within my action scenes, I took to heart forcing my POV character to commit actions they could not take back, something that haunted them through the rest of the story.
I moved on to contemplation scenes, which I covered in earlier posts. I tried to work through the POV’s musings and then come to some realization. I mixed in action beats as she considered her problems. In the end, she comes to some decision which changes the course of the story.
Next up were dialog scenes, which I also covered in earlier posts. When I wrote my earlier versions I wasn’t satisfied with them, in part because I hadn’t written them well. While I tried to reveal something important which explained some part of the plot or the character, I just kind of tossed them in there. This time around I moved the reveal to the end of the scene, and worked up to it. In all cases I tried to have something else going on in the scene which created tension and conflict. When the reveal came, it was almost in the form of a parting shot.
I’m moving on to the two biggest scene types, dramatic and suspense scenes. Life, as it has a habit of doing, will stick its nose into my life and I don’t expect to get much writing done.