Thursday, 2 August 2012

Creating Scenes & Sequel Outlines

The scene and sequel is the smallest unit of a novel that contains all the elements necessary for a story. They contain emotion, action, dialogue, characters, conflict and setting. The scene is a physical story action (all about doing) while the sequel is a mental story action (all about thinking)

The scene is a reaction to a sequel while the sequel is a reaction to the scene. Dividing your novel into scenes will help you out when it comes to revising your novel because editing, cutting up and rearranging your novel will be that much easier. The scenes and sequels are meant to advance the plot and develop the characters.

Only the most critical characters appear in the scene and in each the setting is well developed so that at that particular moment the reader is in that place with the POV character. The POV character is the person who is going to be doing the acting or taking part in it. Do not clog a scene with a lot of backstory or flashbacks because it will slow down the pace of the story. Save it for the sequel.

The scene requires full Technicolor details and moment to moment progression so that the reader feels like what is happening is happening in real time or ‘live’. It should never be about telling, no gossip sessions here please. Scenes in the plot have four basic parts.

a)      What does the POV character want at the beginning of the scene.
b)      Create an obstacle/conflict that prevents them from reaching their goal
c)      Does the POV character reach their goal or not
d)      Get the goal or not get the goal – either way there’s a catch. Disaster strikes causing an unexpected and larger problem for the character

The scene will immediately be followed by a sequel. The sequel allows the reader and the POV character to collect himself and to deal with the disaster from the scene. Its purpose is to change a disaster into a goal. It creates a transition from the frantic feelings of action to the calm aspects of having made a decision. Here you can drop in some back-story to explain the character traits we saw shown in the scenes.

Though critical, the sequels are shorter than the scenes in genres that require a faster pace such as a thriller. It may even appear just at the beginning of a scene. In romance novels the sequels are much longer than the scenes. This is because the pace of a sequel is much slower and has a high amount of introspection. There are three basic parts of a sequel.

a)      The POV reaction to the disaster. Is he angry, shocked, happy or sad? This allows the reader to tap into the emotions of the scene. The character takes the time to regroup. Its all about sheer emotion.
b)      The POV character begins to worry over how they can solve the disaster because they cannot remain in this status quo. The character begins to go over his/her options though technically he/she has no good choices as they all have side effects. This stage is characterized by thoughts.
c)      A decision is made of how to deal with the issue at hand and immediately another scene is launched.

Scene – sequel – scene – sequel… the pattern goes till at the climax the worst disaster is dealt with and there are no more disaster. The story ends. Writing in scenes and sequels makes sure that you write action/reaction scenes that move at a better pace and are rational to the reader.

Not every scene needs a sequel though. If the character does not need to make a decision you don’t need a sequel. It is possible to put two scenes back to back especially in thrillers where introspection must be limited. Take for example in Scene 15, Ryder has just gotten rid of the faramtulas only to discover that they were guarding a Bergonof. The Bergonof roars. Scene 16 cannot start with Ryder thinking of ‘oh what a terrible terrible thing. This Berganof is really scary’. No! Dude needs to start running.   

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