Today, I will delve into the basics of scenes. For a more comprehensive and mind-boggling lesson on the bones and tendons of a scene, hop on over to Randy Ingermanson's site. Here, I will only give a basic sketch of what a scene is.
When you read a story, you'll notice that generally, that story is broken down into chapters. Sometimes, within that chapter, there will be breaks, which we call scene breaks. It's a bit of white space, oftentimes marked with a funny little sign that indicates there will be a change in view point character, time, or setting. They are like mini stories within the story. But they can't stand alone.
Think of the Wizard of Oz. Dorthy meets the Scarecrow and frees him from the wooden post where he's hung all year. He explains his problem, she invites him to come along to meet the Wizard. There's a scene. Alone, it's not that great. But it's an important part of the overall story and moves the action and plot along.
These chapters are small scenes that make up the whole of the story line. Scenes are important to look at because often, new writers want to put a lot of unnecessary scenes in their story. They want to show a sweet or fun moment the character experiences. They will call it character building. Yes, sometimes a story requires it. But if you can take that scene out and it doesn't change how the story flows one bit, it's useless information and will bog down your story, thus boring your reader.
Readers don't like to be bored and we don't want to put out boring stories. That makes readers want to turn on the television or put down your book and never come back.
So, lets not be a toad about hanging on to those precious scenes. Pick and chose what really needs to go into your story, to help your character grow, to add tension and to keep the reader turning pages.
Come back next week and I'll get into the inner workings of a scene a little more. You can also check out Ingermanson's site as well.
In the meantime, I came across this rather comical plot skeleton I wanted to share with you. The link will take you to a picture that you can print out and use with your own story.
Plot Skeleton Graphic
Notice that the body is divided into three "complications." This is where your scenes will fit in. Each scene, as you will learn more about next week, must complicate your character's goal and stretch them to grow.
But for now, I think you have enough to think about and make some notes in your story.
Happy Writing, friends.
Let your imagination weave some wacky tales.
Wiz. Lexiconi, Sr. Mage 1st class: Fabulist extraordinaire.