Rewrite? Corralling BUT and THEREFORE
Holding The Top Level Story Together
In a prior post I introduced the South Park method of linking ideas together using BUT and THEREFORE, before using AND THEN to transform events into scenes. And, along the way, we invented Star and Rocky, two cats, and a moment in time with the Wu family.
So, let’s look at several discarded scenes and my application of South Park’s method. Below is a list of events, with either BUT or THEREFORE added:
|Background — In my fantasy, the MC (GRIMN) is a student in a 17th century-type European University, where he has come caught-up in opposing a group intent on preventing a Professor from leading an archaeological expedition. And we now find Grimn returning to visit the Professor.|
|A — BUT — Grimn interrupts robbers intent on beating the Professor to prevent him from leading the Expedition.|
|B — BUT — trouble-makers agitate a mob to break into the Professor’s house.|
|C — BUT — the robbers corner Grimn and beat him.|
Now, let’s use AND THEN to prompt us to find the POV character’s reaction to the setback, and the struggle to solve it.
|BACKGROUND: Grimn has returned to the Professor to solve a problem:|
|A — BUT — Grimn interrupts robbers intent on beating the Professor to prevent him from leading the Expedition,||AND THEN — unarmed, attacks and drives the robbers away, taunting them with insults, and tends to the Professor’s injuries while he awaits the arrival of the City Watch.|
|B — BUT — Trouble-makers agitate a mob to break into the Professor’s house,||AND THEN — Grimn struggles with his last bit of energy to hold them off until the City Watch arrives and drives the mob away, and detains Grimn for questioning until eventually allowed to leave.|
|C — BUT — The robbers corner Grimn and beat him,||AND THEN — someone Grimn doesn’t trust intervenes before they cripple or kill Grimn, and returns with him to the University.|
Look at the elements we now have to play with — the POV character, Grimn, a scene antagonist(s), conflict, and resolution.
Being a plotter means pretending to know where my story will end up, and the path I will take. And scene synopses provide me with sign posts to write my planned story.
Still…I may have changed the story along the way. Maybe I altered the focus or nature of the prior scene, and BUT or THEREFORE no longer hooks us to the next scene. Conversely, if I want to take the following scene in a different direction how do I keep the story connected? Look no further than BUT or THEREFORE. If the link holds, the unchanged scene may still be good. If not, then rework the synopsis until everything flows again.
In my rewrite, I changed the outcome of Scene A, which eliminated Scene B, and substituted five scenes (B1 – B5) before getting to Scene C. And I spent hours linking B1 to the revised A, followed by B2, B3, and B4, and ending with fashioning B5 and C to flow together.
And, because B1 – B5 were less mature than either A or C, I discovered things while writing some of the B scenes which changed some aspect of the following scene in large and small ways. My solution? Figure out the new approach, then update the synopses, and always know where my story is.
Next time, I will discuss another tool, scene structure.