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Johne

Identifying Scene Types For Originality / Repetition

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I’ve been thinking of adding a Scene Type column to my Story Grid spreadsheet ever since I heard the Categorizing Scenes episode of the Story Grid podcast, so tonight I went through and mapped out the scenes from the Beginning Hook of my Fantasy / Noir (Thriller) novel. The purpose of this exercise is to make sure you don't have the same kind of scene over and over, like the 'Cup of coffee' scene.

This is what I came up with for Scene Types:

  • The horrible, dreaded, hackneyed ‘Amnesiac’ scene
  • We’re off to meet the wizard (as it were)
  • Expectations subverted
  • The old ‘golem turns up on your doorstep’ scene
  • The old ‘golem turns up on your doorstep’ reprised scene
  • The ‘I have no idea what’s happening here’ scene
  • Meeting the family
  • The cranky old man scene
  • The fish-out-of-water scene
  • The ‘I have no idea what this scene is’ scene.
  • The Showing the ropes scene
  • Attacked by a mysterious foe
  • The walkabout scene
  • Confessions with the cleric
  • Turning the tables
  • The mysterious fare scene
  • Refusing the call
  • Attacked by a mysterious foe
  • Appearances are deceiving
  • The come-from-behind sports trope scene
  • The come-from-behind sports trope subverted scene
  • An unexpected ally
  • Learning unexpected powers
  • When best friends squabble
  • The con
  • We’re off to meet the wizard (as it were)
  • Crossing the threshold
  • When dreams die in the harsh light of day
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Interesting!

 

I understand the logic of mapping out the scenes, but I don't see your novel here. Probably you do, and that's what matters.

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"...Dreams die in the harsh light of day."

 

A perfect ending for a noir thriller, Johne!

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14 hours ago, EClayRowe said:

"...Dreams die in the harsh light of day."

A perfect ending for a noir thriller, Johne!


Two thoughts that just ran through my mind: 

  1. Hey, that's pretty good - I wonder who wrote it.
  2. Wait, I wrote it? When did I write that?

And then I (barely) remembered writing this, and when, and where. It's not in my novel per se but rather in the spreadsheet I use to keep track of my novel. This is the new Scene Type text that I wrote just the other day, hence when I didn't recall writing it at first blush.
image.thumb.png.cd5d7d8781e6d85187be5b0b8e93b3e4.png

 

Maybe I will eventually get good enough at this process that I don't need the spreadsheet, but, as they say, this is not that day.

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I'm glad to find your post about scenes. I'm slogging through fundamentals and would love some rules of thumb. I have looked up "scene" on the internet a number of times and find I am still struggling to understand my writing in terms of scenes. If a scene is a section of one or more characters engaging in action or dialog, is it a scene change when the action has been a character walking along a path and a conversation is begun with a second character at the end of the path? Or if two talking characters walk into a group and the conversation takes a different direction, is that a scene change?  [And I don't see "chapters" in the writing on scenes, sequences, and acts, so that's kind of pushing me the same way. I expect this is a question for Remedial Writing, so if you have a helpful webpage in mind too, I would take that]

So in my post, The promise of a day, is it all one scene or is it three or...?  

 

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Here's the Story Grid explanation of what a scene is - it's basically a unit of story which contains a value change.
https://storygrid.com/the-scene/
 

Quote

 

While it can be broken down into its component beats, the scene is the most obvious mini-story. They are the things that stay ever present when we talk about a great movie or great novel. Remember what happened after character A saw character B with another woman?

The structure of a scene is straightforward. A scene must move from one value state to another. From a positive expression of a value like “Love” to a negative expression of a that value “Hate.” Or from a negative expression of a value “injustice” to a positive expression of a value “justice.” Page upon page of prose without a turn from one value state to another is not a scene.
 

Just having two characters meet and talk does not make a scene. It’s just talk.
 

The driving force of the scene is conflict. One character is in pursuit of one thing and one or more other characters are in pursuit of another. Only one desire can be fulfilled. So the two forces conflict. One will win and one will lose. Scenes are battles built on conflict. Stories are Wars that take values to the end of the line or at the very least approach the end of the line.
 

Scenes can turn on very black and white terms—good/bad, life/death, truth/lie etc.
 

While long form stories can never deliver much entertainment or emotional impact by just flip-flopping between a positive story value and just its negative opposite, a scene can. In fact, it must. These black and white value shifts are usually the obligatory scenes for the external content genres. You’ll find these straightforward, easy to understand, scenes the most difficult to innovate.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Johne said:

just flip-flopping between a positive story value and just its negative opposite, a scene can

So my question is, Is there "filling" between scenes in a well-written book? Or is everything one scene following another?

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14 hours ago, carolinamtne said:

So my question is, Is there "filling" between scenes in a well-written book?

 

Elmore Leonard weighs in. "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them."

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Like long paragraphs of description. Like what someone is wearing, even in a short paragraph, although I do know that sometimes there's a clue in there about the person's personality. 

 

Thanks, Johne, for sharing this. It will, in some form or other, inform my blog. (Mmmm. "form" followed by "inform.")

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