Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Scene and Structure #6 - Torture those Characters! It's OK, it's good for them!

So I'm a little late today. Darling daughter and I slept in until 8am. It was fabulous. Then we had some eggs and delicious hearty bacon. Darling daughter also ate a big bowl of yogurt. What can I say, we are big on breakfast. It is Texas! LOL. House cleaning and shopping is on the list today....

Trying to get geared up for school starting back in a few weeks. Eeeeeeek!!! It's sneaking up on me.

But, let's get on with Jack Bickham's SCENE AND STRUCTURE tips for today!

Today we are talking about Planning and Revising Scenes for Maximum Effect.

1) The goal of each scene must clearly relate to the story question in some way.
2) The conflict must be about the goal.
3) The conflict must be with another person or persons, no internally, within oneself.
4) Once a viewpoint has been established and that viewpoint character's problem and goal have been stated, it's wise to remain with that same, single viewpoint through the disaster.
5) Disaster works (moves the story forward) by seeming to move the central figure further back from his goal, leaving him in worse trouble than he was before the scene started.
6) Readers will put up with a lot if your scenes will only keep making things worse!
7) You can seldom, if ever plan, write, or revise a scene in isolation of your other plans for your story, because the end of each scene dictates a lot about what can happen later.

Let's move forward and chat a little about (5) Disaster works (moves the story forward) by seeming to move the central figure further back from his goal, leaving him in worse trouble than he was before the scene started.

"Well-planned scenes end with disaster that tighten the noose around the lead character's neck; they make things worse, not better; they eliminate hoped-for avenues of progress; they increase the lead character's worry, sense of possible failure, and desperation --so that in all these ways the main character in a novel of 400 pages will be in far worse shape by page 200 than he seemed to be at the outset."

Ok, so I'm getting the idea that torturing our heroes and heroines is good! Love it!

Jack goes on to say later that 'Of course you can console yourself (but don't tell the readers) with the secret knowledge that all of this seeming backward movement is only a dramatic illusion'.

Haha! I hope this hit on a few areas of interest for you. I know it did for me and next week (yes, I peeked ahead) we get Jack's 12 tips on writing and revising! Can't wait!

Happy Writing,
Happy Reading,
Krystal Shannan


  1. Thanks for this post, Krystal! Conflict is definitely something giving me trouble lately. It's hard to keep it all relevant to the story as a whole.

  2. Yay! Glad it helped. The book is really fantastic. I've learned a lot sharing it on the blog. I totally hear you about keeping it relevant, especially when the pantser genes take over, sometimes I get a little carried away.