Exercise Your Pen

In Craft on December 3, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Today I offer a writing exercise:

In my book Make A Scene I offer the following “ingredients” that most good scenes require:

-Characters (who are complex and layered)
-A consistent Point of View (the “lens” through which information is filtered)
-Action (significant and plot worthy)
-New Plot information (that advances your story forward and fills in clues)
-Conflict and drama that tests your characters
-A rich, physical setting
-Spare amount of narrative summary

So, here’s a challenge for you. Grab a scene out of anything you’ve written. It should be at least a couple pages in length. Now, using the ingredients list, go through and label the parts of your scene. See if anything is missing and if it might not enrich your scene to add it in. See if you’ve got too much of something that’s bogging down your scene.

For extra credit (or just a feeling of pride), see if you can’t identify:
-Dramatic tension (the feeling that conflict or action or excitement is on the horizon if not nigh)

-Elements of subtext–images, innuendo, parallel but background actions, and more that run below the top layer of your scene and add depth.

-Scene Intentions. Just by looking at your scene, without reading prior or later scenes, do you know what your character’s intention is for the scene?

If you have any thoughts or insights to share, post them here in the comments.

  1. Damn fine advice there. It’s good when revising to have this sort of ‘list’ to look over, so you don’t get bogged down and lost in the words.

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