Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Structure of a Scene in a Novel

I was thinking to myself that I hadn't written a post giving writer-y advice and tips for quite some time. So, I figured that I would let you in on my recent look at scene structure. Scene structure has always confused me because there are so many different scenes that I've read, but apparently they all follow the same basic structure.
This is a section of my white board where I've been writing things down about scene structure as I discover them. My printing and spelling is pretty sad, but it's fine for a jot board. On that note, if you don't have a whiteboard or something similar I highly recommend getting one. It's a great aid to coming up with ideas!

Anyways, here is the structure that seems to be coming up the most often:
GOAL- What is the character trying to accomplish in this scene? In this post the author calls this a micro-goal because it's a small goal that will accomplish the larger over-all goal. I'm going to use Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as an example. There will be spoilers in this example fyi. Harry trying to defeat Voldemort is the overall goal, but a micro-goal would be breaking into Bellatrix's vault Gringotts Bank to get one of the Horcruxes.

CONFLICT- What is standing in the way of accomplishing the goal? In HP and the bank scene there are many obstacles. First they have to get through the bank's security and then inside the vault everything they touch multiples. They meet up with Deatheaters and their disguises are tested. You get the idea of obstacles.

DISASTER / TURNING POINT-They fail in some way, something goes wrong, or some piece of important info is discovered (eg. a bomb is going to go off in 10 minutes!). If the characters get what they want (their goal)with no consequences then the reader will stop reading. Disaster doesn't always mean that the micro-goal doesn't get accomplished it just means that some other problem arises. In the HP example they get the cup (their goal), BUT Griphook (a goblin helping them) takes the sword (another Horcrux that they need to accomplish over-all goal*NEW PROBLEM!*) and now Voldemort is aware of their search (*NEW PROBLEM*). So even though they accomplished their goal they are left with another problem(s)/disaster.

This is the structure of the following scene that this author calls a Sequel in his post:
REACTION-How do the characters react to this new problem or failure? It's important to remember that this doesn't have to be a long brooding section from the MC, but there has to be some reaction. In the HP example, the three friends get to their campsite and we see Voldemort's reaction through Harry. I'm sure there is some reaction from the three friends as well, but I'm just doing this scene from memory and Sparknotes.

DILEMMA-What are the solutions to the new problem? The solutions should all be bad or cost something; that's why it's called a dilemma. In the HP example, the problem that becomes the the most significant problem is Voldemort has found out about their search, so he is going to move the Horcrux that they need, which they know is at Hogwarts. Of course Harry and his friends can't let that happen, so they have to figure out what they are going to do to fix their new problem. They could go after Voldemort to try to stop him from moving it, they could try to get the the Horcrux before Voledemort gets to it.

DECISION-The character picks the best solution. They set a plan of action. In the HP example, they decide to go to Hogsmeade (the village outside of Hogwarts) and get the Horcrux from Hogwarts.
By this time the characters will have a new goal and the process is repeated again.

I know that this post has been a thicker piece of writing, but learning this structure and pulling this scene apart has helped me structure my stories a bit better. I've still got a few hesitations about this method, but it's a very good place to start. Let me know what you think of this method in the comments!

In closing here is some other things to think about in regards to scenes:
-Try to combine character building scenes and scenes that move the plot forward. Try to avoid scenes just for the sake of character building.
-Think about how necessary a scene is before you write it. Would the story be the same without it?

What I'm reading: Graceling by Kirstin Cashore
What I'm listing to: OneRepublic
What I'm watching: Alphas

P.S. Who enjoyed seeing J.K. Rowling at the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Good Writing Blogs and Awards

In this post I want to tackle two things. First responding to an award Page Lollie over at The Dream Words gave me and the second (inspired by the award) share a list of writing blogs that are worth checking out.

The award:
The rules:
This award is for book bloggers only to receive this award the blog must be at least 50% about books (reading and writing is okay)
Along with receiving this award you must share your top five favourite books you have ever read. You must award 5 bloggers with booky blogs you adore.

However, I'm going to break the rules and just open it up to anyone who wants to do it on their own blog. If you choose to accept this award comment with a link to your post about it. I always enjoy seeing people's favourite books.

Okay, so my top five:
But if I HAD to choose just five I'd say...

The Beka Cooper trilogy (except the last one) by Tamora Pierce
The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (I'm original, I know)
The Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Series by Judy Blume (I don't think that's really what it's called, but whatever)
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

If you'd like to see my other favourites, I have a little widget from Goodreads at the bottom of this blog.

The Writing Blogs:
This blog has a lot of fantasy advice, but is helpful to all types of writers. A couple of posts of hers are: Five Simple Ways to Kill Your Villian, and Why Humor Will Make or Break Your Story

This blog is amazing. Every post is chock full of helpful ideas and advice. It's not something I'd want to read for hours, but when I'm in a fix it's usually got a post to help me.

Another great blog. Many of you probably know about it, but if you don't I encourage you to check it out. Look for their character trait thesaurus, AMAZING!

If you have any writing blogs that are super helpful, then just leave a comment and I'll check 'em out!

What I'm reading: Still Insurgent by Veronica Roth
What I'm listening to: Five for Fighting
What I'm watching: Numb3rs

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How Writers Make Money: A Video

I came across this video and found it interesting AND informative. Hope you do too! Also, if you want to skip his little ramble about his living arrangements in the beginning, go to 1:30 in the video.

P.S. I haven't read any of Kaleb Nation's books, but I have seen them at the library. If you've read any of them let me know how they are!
Reading: Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Listening to: Norah Jones
Watching: Covert Affairs / White Collar

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Clockwork Angel: Love Letter

I saw this and had to laugh. I liked the book well enough, but not as much as this person apparently, haha. Have you read A Clockwork Angel or A Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Claire? If so did you like it?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Insecure Writer's Group: July 2012

I've finally taken the plunge and started that new story that I alluded to back in the May Insecure Writer's Group post. This project feels different to me and to my reading partner.

As a sidenote: I know most people say that you shouldn't show your first draft to anyone until it's completely finished, but I've never waited. I always write up a few pages then send them to Kote. Maybe, I'll write a post about that another time.

ANYWAYS! I'm more excited/inspired to work on this project and have been scribbling away at it in my writer's journal over the past week. However, I have this feeling that the excitement will slowly fade away and I'll be stuck in another rut like with my last unfinished story. I know that I've said before to keep at a draft until it's done, but I decided that I wouldn't follow my advice this time. When writing isn't joyful anymore then something needs to change, so I changed it. So what am I insecure about this month? Well, the general things that come along with writing a new story (is it worth it, is it a good idea etc. etc.) and the decision to start something new with something else unfinished.

What eases me:
-I've decided to keep old characters and rework them into the new plot idea
-I'm writing more of what I know

So right now, I'm doing pretty good. I'm on a new story high! How about everyone else? What are your current insecurities or "highs"?

What I'm reading: Insurgent by Veronica Roth
What I'm listening to: Coldplay
What I'm watching: Still stuck on Rookie Blue (and waiting for White Collar and Cover Affairs!)
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