Wednesday, May 21, 2008


And the blog Gods ate it. So, you are going to get the condensed version.

Scene: Has a beginning, middle and end. It moves the plot forward. It's also a small portion of the book as a whole. And it better have a purpose.

Now what do I mean that it has a beginning, middle and end:

Beginning: Scene opens. The reader is presented with the protag and antag and their overall goal.

Yes, there needs to be a scene goal, just like your character needs an overall goal for the book.

If you have that then you will have a middle:

Protag and Antag both try to get their goal. Through that you'll have conflict for your scene. Don't confuse conflict with argument. Conflict can be as simple as Mary(the protag) wanting to go buy red shoes and Sarah (her friend and antag of scene) thinks that red isn't her friend's color. Yes this can turn into an argument, but it doesn't have to.

The End of a scene someone has to win, lose, and/or the scene ends with more goals.


Mary: I've had my eye on some red shoes.

Sarah: I'm sorry to say this, but you know I love you.

Mary: Then don't say it, but I already know what you are going to say.

Sarah: Red shoes makes your ankles look fat.

Mary: *sighs* I know, but they're Prada.

Sarah: Prada?

Mary: With an ankle strap and fabric with cherries embroided on them.

Sarah: *shakes head* Tempting, but the ankle strap will only make the middle part of your foot look fat. I say get the black Gucci ones.

Mary: But I really want the red ones.

Sarah: Okay, you'll be the one with the fat looking feet.

Mary*every other part of me is fat enough. I really shouldn't get shoes that...* I'm getting the red ones. Fat foot be damned.

This may be a horrid example, but there is conflict, mention of fat feet which can be hilarious. The scene moves forward by the mention of weight issues and her friend adding to the misconception. And you can see who the protag and antag is in this scene.

Breakdown of scene goal:

Mary wants to buy red shoes. (P wants B)

Sarah thinks red shoes make friend's foot look fat and wants to talk her friend out of buying some. (A wants C)

Mary and Sarah both have a goal and there goals are locked together and someone has to lose. (This particular scene it's Sarah who loses.)

Since this scene isn't really a book I can only weave tales (lies) about how this scene fits into the whole. This scene can be the foundation for character, what type of friendship these women have (I know if someone told me I had a fat foot we better be friends or things will get very ugly) or it's feeding into the whole that Mary has to deal with her weight issues.

Lastly the purpose is equal to the goal. Mary wants red shoes.

Hopefully that helps. Tell me what you think about scene structure. If you have any questions I'll direct you to someone who really knows. Lastly, if you disagree with everything I said, go ahead have fun in the comments. I love a great debate.

On Friday I shall ramble on another topic: Things you should never do in your novel...


Pam said...

Mel-when you teach your first class at Nationals, (next year?) I'm going to be sitting in the front row! :-)

Mel said...

Thanks most times I feel like I'm rambling.

And here's the bad news, I won't be at next years National's. I think I want to spend my cash on a trip to Hawaii. I love being around writers and all, but I love Hawaii more. You can come. Or maybe I should make a petition to move National's to Hawaii....

Edie said...

I think they had National at Hawaii once, but I'm not sure. Probably it was RT.

Erica Orloff says she wants her chapters to accomplish two goals: One an action goal, another emotional/character growth. I like that.

Mel said...

Erica is a great person to listen. I always say go with what makes more sense for you, because if it's good advice you are going to end up with the same writing goal in mind: A good scene/chapter/book.