"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings but a cat does not." -Ernest Hemingway

Monday, May 30, 2011

How Discovering Scene and Sequel Changed the Way I Write Forever: Part Two

In Part One, (click here), we explored how the three elements of a scene; goal, conflict and disaster, plays a part in conveying plots. In Part Two, we’ll be exploring its counterpart, sequel, and how it plays a role in conveying story.  

A sequel acts as a transition or a bridge between scenes. Better yet, think in terms of how movies literally use a visual scene of “crossing over a bridge” to show a transition between scenes. In literature, it’s a technique used to show your readers what your character is thinking and feeling about what happened in the preceding scene. Sequels also are a great way to provide backstory, convey logic and to convince readers your story is believable.

Let’s explore:

Sequels bring meaning to the action of a previous scene through their four elements; emotion, thought, decision and action. It’s also important they are written in this exact order. Why? Because emotion is the reaction your character has to the end of the previous scene, the disaster, and thought allows your reader to understand why they feel the way they do. Decision is how your character responds to their feelings and action is the outcome of their emotional struggle.

Let’s examine by breaking down Scene II from Part One’s example of scene and add a breakdown of sequel to see how it adds meaning:

The desert flower was so unique it made me reach out and pluck its sweet aroma {goal}, making the buzzing bee angry {conflict}. Feeling its stinging pinch I reach into my back pack just as I remembered forgetting to pack my EpiPen {disaster}. Suddenly, Emma’s soft touch and Billy’s blue eyes flashed before my eyes {emotion}, adding to my panic. If only I had listened to Emma when she said we needed life insurance after Billy was born {thought}. Frantically taking in the surroundings I hear the roar of a distant engine and decide today is not a good day to die {decision}. Throwing my back pack across my shoulder I shove the desert flower in my pocket {action}; after all, it will make the the perfect anniversary gift. 

Scenes should often times be exciting and full of action, while sequels should tend to slow it down and provide an opportunity for reaction. In other words, if your story seems to be unbelievable, build up your sequels to make it credible. If it seems to be slow, increase the conflict by building up your scenes; thus, bringing balance to plot and story. 

I was so amazed once I learned this technique I now keep a typed written note directly in front of my writing zone which looks exactly like this:

Scene          Sequel
Goal           Emotion
Conflict       Thought
Disaster       Decision

It helps me to keep a balance between plot and story as I write and on those rare occasions when I suffer from writer's block, it helps to keep me thinking forward and what my characters are going through. Try it, you just might be amazed!

Until next time,

Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!

T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author



1 comment:

  1. Excellent. will keep a note of it by my pc too.
    Moody Writing
    (started following you on twitter!)