Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Scene and Structure #7 - 12 Tips to Writing a Great Scene

I promised I'd share Jack Bickham's 12 tips on planning a scene this week, so here they are.

  1. Make sure that the state scene goal is clearly relevant to the story question. Don't assume it's obvious to the reader. Spell it out.
  2. Show clearly that the viewpoint character considers the oncoming scene as vitally important. Have him/her say so, or think so, or both! Never allow a lead character to enter a scene with a lackadaisical attitude.
  3. Make sure you have provided enough background for the opposition character --or have him state enough motivation at the outset. 
  4. Make sure your opposing character clearly states his opposition early in the scene, and never lets up.
  5. Mentally devise a moving game plan for both the lead character and the antagonist so that even if you don't tell the reader what either is thinking, you know what both are thinking. 
  6. In searching for your scene-ending-disaster, don't always grab the first idea that comes to your mind. Your reader will be guessing along with you, and you don't want him to outguess you. You always want to keep the reader guessing!
  7. Don't be afraid to have your antagonist try to get the lead character "off the point" of argument as one of his opposing tactics. Just make sure the lead character always finds his way back.
  8. Don't hesitate to use dialogue at cross-purpose once in a while as a scene-building device. Such dialogue can be defined as story conversation in which the conflict is not overt, but where the antagonist either doesn't understand what's really at issue, or is purposely non-responsive. However! Avoid characters lecturing each other.
  9. Remember, in building conflict in the scene and in devising your disaster, that people are not always entirely rational, especially in stressful situations. Your story people --even in the toughest scenes --are not wholly logical robots, LOL.
  10. Plan and write the scene for all you can get out of it. Revise if its impact suddenly seems to great for what your plot calls for next, and cut it only if you reread it later and sense that it may get dull in spots.
  11. Always be alert for ways to raise the stakes in a scene, as long as you don't turn it into Armageddon!
  12. Never let your characters relax or feel comfortable when disaster is right around the corner.

Next week we will begin considering how to CONNECT scenes and how better to motivate them. Hope you enjoyed this week. See you next Wednesday.

Happy Writing
Happy Reading
Krystal Shannan

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