I am taking an online course through ACFW called “Unputdownable”. The course covers the elements that make a book impossible to put down. One of the lessons focused on scene writing.
When I read this lesson, a big light switch flipped on in my brain. It was definitely an AH-HA moment. Believe it or not, when I wrote novels in the past, I didn’t think in terms of scenes. Often, I’d just write whatever came to mind that day. But really, books are just like movies, and each scene needs to have a purpose. Each scene needs to drive the overall plot of the book forward.
My course instructor laid out 6 defining elements each scene should include:
1. Point of View (POV) character: each scene needs to be told from one – and only one – character’s point of view
2. Goal: this POV character needs to have a scene goal – there should be something this person wants to accomplish or prevent throughout this scene.
3. Motivation: there should be a logical reason why this character has such a goal.
4. Conflict: this is the tension – every scene should have it. What is preventing the POV character from reaching his/her goal?
5. Climax: the high point of the scene – the part where emotions are running the highest and the reader is most engaged
6. Resolution: how does the scene end – usually, the resolution should end with some sort of hook – something that makes the reader want to keep going.
My crit buddy thinks I am OCD – and I don’t question her assessment (she is a licensed therapist, after all) – but I actually went through Velvet Sky and made a document that outlines every single scene in my book. For every scene, I address each of the six elements.
It took FOR-EVER (Sandlot style) to do this. But now that I have it done, I feel very secure in the direction I am headed. Does that mean my characters won’t throw me for a loop every now and then and take my story in an unexpected direction? Of course not! But it does mean each scene I write from here on out will have a purpose. Each scene will drive the overall plot of my story forward, which feels good.
Here’s another bonus to my OCD behavior. Some writers have an overall word count quota they set out to accomplish each day. I’ve never been good at this. Now, instead of a word count quota, my goal is to write one scene a day. And what’s even better – I can pick and choose. If I’m having problems with motivation – I can skip to a high-intensity or fun scene and write away. If I’m particularly focused that day – I can choose a scene that I know is going to be painful or hard to write. So, regardless of the time and effort this outline took, I think I’m going to be doing it with every story I write from here on out.
Question to ponder: What has been an AH-HA moment in your writing journey? Have you ever read or heard something that just flipped on a light switch, and your writing is better because of it? Please share, as your AH-HA moments will probably teach me lots!!removetweetmeme