My WIP’s Fourth Revision
Special Scenes: First and Final Scenes
So let’s do that.
What the heck are Special Scenes?
Four Special scenes are so important to our story’s success that we give them extra attention and put them together in ways unlike any other scene type in our story.
What are they?
How did I write them?
I hope they are better for revising.
When I revised, I wrote the First and Final Scenes together.
Why would I write them side-by-side?
I want readers to see the difference between my MC’s first and final images. I’m told that, when actors are considering a part, one of the very first things they do is turn to the character’s first scene, and then the final scene. They want to see how the character changed. If they don’t, or it’s not to their liking they will pass.
Some readers I know cannot help turning to the final chapter in a book because they want to know what happened to the character, but I don’t do that. It would ruin the experience for me. And what is that experience? It’s the journey our MC goes on and how it changed her, hopefully for the better. And we can do that in our first and final scenes.
In my First Scene, I had a two big things I have to do – introduce my MC, and dangle a hook that would pull readers through the first half of Part One.
So, what tools are available for us to introduce our MC?
We have setting, surrounding cast, external actions, and internalities (physical and emotional sensations, thoughts, inner monologue). How do we want to use those tools to show the differences? We could put them in the middle of a crowded theater watching an opera, dressed in a stunning evening gown, wearing diamond pendants and choker. She could be on the arm of the Prince of Wales. She could be feeling giddy and almost unable to set in her seat, and she could be thanking her lucky stars she hit the jackpot.
But there is something else that Blake Snyder called the Saving The Cat moment. If we want people to like her and begin to identify with her, give her some soft, touching thing to do, which is utterly in character and in keeping with the scene. What if she scooped up a paraplegic child and took her along to the performance, along with her aging grandmother and brother. And then we learn she is passionate about physically challenged children and fund raises and speaks out for them at every turn.
Could it work?
If we see evidence throughout the rest of the story.
So what do we see in that final scene?
Now, she’s wearing ragged cutoffs and a tank top, and she’s hacked off her hair in a terrible try at a page-boy. She’s sitting on a creaky dock, dangling her well tanned legs. And, she’s holding hand with the leader of a gypsy band. While she’s setting there she pulls out a faded, well-worn photo of the Prince of Wales, tears it into little pieces, and drops it in the water.
Well, that’s a huge change.
What the heck happened?
The readers who finished the story will understand all that.
What about that hook?
It’s going to be the best we can write. It needs to be interesting, push our MC off-center, and remain unresolved until the middle of Part One.
Because we are going to use that unresolved situation to make our MC fret and worry, maybe even threaten her. And everyone around her is going to get drawn into trying to solve this thing. And we will get to know all of them a lot better because they are in motion. And it will interest us because it all fits together.
So, back to Snow White at the opera.
Part way through the performance someone runs up on stage, rants and raves, and points to her and screams she’s a fraud, that Snow White isn’t her real name, and she’s been married before.
But, after a half-dozen or more scenes we finally quite all that down.
She had a twin sister with a different name who sold out and went to work for Disney. And the Prince of Wales reaffirms his love for her and they are preparing once again, to live happily ever after.
Only it’s never that easy. Ha.
Next time I’ll write about Epiphanies.