Scenes: 2 types, 7 tools

A little advice from Writing Fiction for Dummies.

2 TYPES OF SCENES

Authors Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy categorize scenes into two types – proactive and reactive. Each scene has a recognizable beginning, middle, and end.

PROACTIVE:
GOAL.  CONFLICT.  SETBACK.

Beginning – define the “simple, objective, worthwhile, achievable, and difficult” goal.
Middle – conflict. Hit your POV character. When he tries to get up, hit him again.
End – setback. Make sure he’s down for the count.

REACTIVE:
REACTION.  DILEMMA.  DECISION.

Beginning – he reacts to a setback from previous scene.
Middle – Box your guy in. No easy outs.
End – he’s got to make a “simple, objective, worthwhile, achievable, and difficult” decision.

Writing-Fiction-For-Dummies-B002XGICAO-LVery helpful as a sort of checklist for analyzing, and in some cases rearranging, my scenes.

I can see how one scene type segues into the other, so even though the authors don’t really say, I’m guessing the idea is to go back and forth throughout the story. I might put “P” and “R” on my index cards and see if it pans out.

Note: not every scene is going to be knock-down-drag-out, but all of them should do their part to propel the story forward. Those middle bits have to be exciting enough to keep readers turning pages. (Chapter 14)

7 TOOLS

“Show, don’t tell.”

We’ve all been told, but have we been shown? Showing presents the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings and thoughts of a character. Telling skips over all the sensory stuff and just gives the facts.

In order of importance, 5 tools to help you show:

      • ACTION
      • DIALOGUE
      • INNER EMOTION
      • INNER MONOLOGUE
      • DESCRIPTION

and 2 for when you need to tell:

      • FLASHBACK
      • NARRATIVE SUMMARY

That “in order of importance” bit bugs me. I’m pretty sure I tell too much, show too little. Anyhoo, there’s some good advice about how to get in and out of a flashback. Even better advice: don’t overuse the technique.

And these are smart tips for writing narrative summary:

  • BE BRIEF.
  • BE INTERESTING. Not boring. Only surprising facts, critical info about your story world, and vivid imagery.
  • BE STRONG. Distinctive voice, entertaining delivery.
  • BE BRILLIANT.  (Chapter 10)

This post has probably been none of those four things. Brilliant.

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