The Perfect Material

In Classes, Craft on October 30, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Psst…Hello–you there, NOT doing NanWrimo, let’s talk.

You wouldn’t build a chicken coop out of straw, a car out of wood, a house out of plastic blocks…(If you would, don’t bother reading on) right?

The perfect material exists for every structure, and this is also true in writing. The perfect material unit for building a narrative is… the scene. I can turn this into an advertisement if you like:

The Scene!
A sexy simulacrum of real time…a self-contained unit that never fails to make a story when stacked one after the other. Now bigger, sleeker, with 50% more.

Okay, so maybe not. Still, I cannot repeat enough how powerful a tool the scene is. And lest you think it’s optional, like alliteration or deus ex machinas, let me disabuse you of this notion. Scene. Not. Optional. That would be like building your house without the framework. Scenes are an integral part of the structure of any narrative (don’t get me started, however, on the exceptions, from Beckett to Saunders).

A quick snapshot:
You’re in scene if your characters are engaged action, whether big or small. Make that action meaningful and plot relevant, with a small but vivid ldose of visual setting and detail and you are more than on your way. Remember to begin and end your scene in a compelling or suspenseful way, and you’re there, baby. You’re there.

So whether you’re doing NanoWriMo next month or not, don’t forget your friend the scene. If you’d like to learn more about scenes, take my crash-course, Fiction’s Magic Ingredient, beginning Nov. 2, and again in the New Year.

I’m also launching a Scenes for Non-Fiction Writers course in December.

  1. This makes me want to write fiction! I love it!

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