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Zee

I learned how to write a scene!

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So, I just learned how to write a scene! I'm sure this is old hat to most of you here (especially with all the technical tips from people like Johne and Nicholas.) Still, the concept of "scene structure" has just now penetrated my brain.

 

All you need is some kind of goal or desire for the character, some kind of conflict or complication which forces the character to react, maybe throw in a further complication, and then have the character make a decision, good or bad, thus creating a new goal...

 

For example, Laila wants to go to the store to buy a gallon of oil to fry chicken.
When she gets outside, she realizes her car needs a jump. 
She goes to her neighbor but he's gone.
So she decides to walk to the store, but when she arrives she realizes it's too far to walk back with the heavy oil.
So she decides to make pasta for dinner instead.

 

Not the most riveting example, but a well-constructed little scene that would read well, if written creatively.

 

Incredibly simple, now that I understand it.

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Well done! I've learned this within the last couple of years - every scene should have five components:
https://storygrid.com/466/

  1. Inciting Incident
    1. Causal
    2. Coincidence
  2. Progressive Complication Turning Point
    1. Character Action
    2. Revelation
  3. Crisis
    1. The Best Bad choice
    2. Irreconcilable goods
  4. Climax
  5. Resolution
Quote

 

Every beat has an inciting incident, progressive complication/s, a crisis, a climax and a resolution.
 

A well-designed series of beats builds to the next unit of story, the scene, which also has an inciting incident, progressive complications, a crisis, a climax and a resolution.
 

Scenes build into sequences, which also have inciting incidents, progressive complications, crises, climaxes and resolutions.
 

In turn sequences build into acts, which have their own inciting incidents, progressive complications, crises, climaxes and resolutions.
 

Subplots also have inciting incidents, progressive complications, crises, climaxes and resolutions, and can be tracked in exactly the same way as the global story. They act more like add-on extensions or outbuildings to the property that make the global story a deeper and more satisfying experience.
 

And lastly, the global story itself has its own inciting incident, progressive complications, crisis, climax and resolution.

 

 

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38 minutes ago, Johne said:

Every beat has an inciting incident, progressive complication/s, a crisis, a climax and a resolution.

 

Assuming "beat" mean scene, I'm not sure I agree with this. Each scene is different, and should have it's own purpose within the story. Sometimes it's just two characters talking, sharing information, and perhaps important character traits surface. This type of scene doesn't really need a crisis, complication, or resolution - unless you consider them parting after a cup of coffee a type of resolution (or climax).

 

This is when I think too much reliance on formula can frustrate a writer. It keeps them plugging away at a scene until it fits whatever rules (or checklist) they are following, when its' really fine the way it is (so long as it's important in some way to the overall story).

 

 

   

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3 hours ago, Zee said:

Incredibly simple, now that I understand it.

Now if I could just get my 6 year old to understand it, "story" time would be more interesting to listen to. :D

 

You've got the basic point, and if you want more, this kids' book is probably at your library and spells the ingredients for a good story straight out while being a delightful read: https://www.amazon.com/Aunt-Isabel-Tells-Picture-Puffins/dp/0140505342/ 

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Even the scene where two people meet together to have coffee and discuss what's on their minds has a goal, (to spend time together) some kind of complication or issue (else why are they talking?) and some kind of resolution, whether it's them making plans to meet again soon, or one party leaving in a huff.

 

It's really just life, if you think about it. Everyone has a reason for wanting to do what he does, and no actions are without consequences, good or bad.

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1 hour ago, Accord64 said:

Assuming "beat" mean scene, I'm not sure I agree with this. Each scene is different, and should have it's own purpose within the story. Sometimes it's just two characters talking, sharing information, and perhaps important character traits surface.

I agree that these are guidelines more than laws but think they're guidelines for the reason that they work. 

There are authors who end each chapter with a cliffhanger instead of a resolution (Jim Butcher springs to mind) and their work is compelling, so something's working. I get it. Each author has to be confident in their own mind about their process. But it's not a bad idea to learn the basics before striking off into the uncharted so they don't get lost in the weeds.

image.thumb.png.2bccd3b6129c08f67823e0079fe147b1.pngI have a spreadsheet which maps all these Turning Point scenes. If a scene doesn't turn, there's no narrative drive. (That's not fatal, but there should be a good reason for it. I have some scenes which don't turn but they're very short and relatively rare.)

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54 minutes ago, Johne said:

But it's not a bad idea to learn the basics before striking off into the uncharted so they don't get lost in the weeds.

 

I agree, Johne!

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1 hour ago, carolinamtne said:

So how does this apply to writing a diary of life on the Oregon Trail?

On the surface I'd say it depends on if you're writing a memoir or a novel, but really, I'd structure the beat / scene / chapter in this general fashion regardless if you're looking for consistent Narrative Drive.

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