Jan 31, 2011

Deliberate Acts

Often I think the task of writing seems like it gets out of my hands and into my mind, even though it should really be in both places.  There is a basic lesson in the structure of a scene that goes like this:

SCENE: the actions on stage - the conflict.
The fundamental pattern of a scene is:
a. Statement of goal.
b. Introduction and development of conflict.
c. Failure of the character to reach their goal (a tactical disaster).

Yeah, I know, why does the character have to fail? Simple, because if they don't the story is at an end. And then King George slew the dragon and they all lived happily ever after the scene was over - at least it was over as far as the dragon was concerned, and he probably wasn't too enthused about getting written out of the story so early and neither was the reader who would think, ho, hum, why read anything by this writer again?

Instead, try this; The King and his family appear in a beautiful meadow to have a jolly good picnic and up pops a dragon. Well the King does not have his armor or his trusty war horse and when his daughter spies the cute little lizard and asks if she can keep it, what's a father to do? He can't exactly stick a fork in the scaly creature and call it done. And as far as the dragon is concerned, the Princess is a little short on the filling the belly criteria and there are all those pigs and goats inside the castle grounds. So the King loses out on an all-day picnic, but life is looking like a picnic for the dragon. Now what are they going to do? And the story rolls forward.

But what about after the action ends and the players leave the stage? How do we get to that next bit of action and drama? It's called sequel, and yeah it's how the story leads us to round 2 and it goes like this:

SEQUEL: actions in the mind of the point-of-view character.
The character has an emotional reaction, thinks out a new plan and sets a new goal - to be sought after in the next scene.

So the King decides that in order to keep peace in the family, they'll all go back to the castle and once the Princess is safely in bed, well, he did need a new pair of dragon skin boots...

Don't forget the dragon has a say so in how things turn out too. He's thinking about how those nice, fat, barnyard animals are probably in wooden cages and how cedar roasted pig would taste so delicious. Once the King and Princess are in bed, well, a little midnight snack might be just the thing.

Sounds like an interesting scene to look forward to when we turn the page, don't cha think?