scenes ?

This topic contains 19 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Dreams of Tanelorn 8 hours, 32 minutes ago.

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  • #347052

    margery65w
    Participant

    WD gives this to do list for every scene
    http://www.writersdigest.com/tip-of-the-day/4-questions-to-ask-yourself-when-writing-scenes

    Do you concur with what WD said to do?

    Other sources have similar but more detailed guidance for what each scene should have.
    Some have them broken into action/reaction pairs as well as what is in each scene itself.

    Many other sites have other various suggestions, which roughly agree but not completely, for things to do and how to use scenes.

    Do you ensure explicitly ensure that every scene has these characteristics?
    Or do you just intuitively do it without explicitly designing the scene to match the WD recommendations.

    Books on scenes seem to just be a slightly more detailed outline from the 3-4 act overall structure that is common.
    Typically breaking down to a list of 10-30 or so.

    Some authors seem to continue until they have every scene at the lowest level of detail defined.

    To me , being visually oritented, a scene is like what is seen in a movie. They typically have about 90 of them.
    A few books I have read had essentially made each scene a chapter and they had 70+ of them.
    Most, books I have read , have fewer chapters that have multiple scenes that are somehow related.

    So are scenes in a novel different than scenes in a movie? If so, why?
    Seems like a novel just describes what the screen shows although with a little less clutter and detail allowing the reader to fill in the rest with their imagination.

  • #656179

    Anonymous

    I just write what needs to happen. I’d drive myself crazy trying to follow all these ‘guidelines’ and check lists. Read enough fiction and you know how a scene works.

  • #656180

    margery65w
    Participant

    ostarella wrote:
    Read enough fiction and you know how a scene works.

    Maybe for you.
    I read fiction. Did not really help me with scenes or plots or anything.

    The various info at WD and other sites at least makes me aware of what could be useful.

    I guess with enough experience it may be inherently natural and automatic.
    For many of us we need to be a bit more explicit in doing things.

  • #656181

    Anonymous

    noobienieuw wrote:

    >
    > I guess with enough experience it may be inherently natural and automatic.
    > For many of us we need to be a bit more explicit in doing things.

    If by “experience” you mean reading, I would say definitely. I’ve been an avid and voracious reader since early childhood, so I suppose it did become natural and automatic.

    My main concern with advocating these sorts of checklists is that writers, particularly newer ones, get so caught up in checking off things they forget that the real goal is writing an interesting story. If people would worry more about simply telling a good story, they wouldn’t need those lists (which, not surprisingly, seem to pop up in articles that include “oh, and buy my book to get more good info”).

  • #656182

    jIPPity
    Participant

    Agree 100% with Ostarella. I too would go crazy trying to follow all the rules. Makes much more sense to read voraciously and study how scenes in novels work.

    One “rule” about writing scenes I do find useful: When the scene is over, something should have changed. Something should be different. Now, this doesn’t mean that a thousand people are massacred, or that aliens exterminate all earthly life. It could be something as simple as the PoV character reaching a decision, changing his mind, convincing another person that he’s right, etc. But if things are exactly the same at the end of the scene as at the beginning, then the scene has no purpose, no narrative function, and should be deleted.

    Aside from that, I would follow Ostarella’s advice: concentrate on telling a good story and don’t worry about checklists.

    –Warren

  • #656183

    margery65w
    Participant

    wdarcy wrote:
    > Aside from that, I would follow Ostarella’s advice: concentrate on telling
    > a good story and don’t worry about checklists.

    Some people see sign posts pointing the way as absolute mandatory and stifling creativity.
    Others see them as suggestions to consider not hoops to jump through.
    And they find their path quicker with an arrow pointing the direction to go.

    Looks like the value of the checklists and guidebooks depends on how you view them.

    OTOH most people, especially newer writers, have no idea how to tell a good story yet, so any guidance they get has to be useful.
    As to reading and learning how to do it by osmosis: I find that way too slow and inefficient.
    And often a total fail.
    It failed at the uni when the English department tried the socratic method with us.

    I would much rather have had a good textbook that was explicit in what it said to do.
    Then I could ignore it or use it as I found appropriate.
    But giving us a blank book and saying figure it out for yourself just did not work for most of my cohort.

  • #656184

    margery65w
    Participant

    wdarcy wrote:
    > One “rule” about writing scenes I do find useful: When the scene
    > is over, something should have changed. Something should be different.

    I too would like to see something having happened in every scene.
    Yet many famous authors merely ramble on about descriptions of stuff that is factual but irrelevant.

    Has modern technology changed things that we are too impatient to read/watch a bunch of filler no matter how nicely written?
    Has TV and commercials killed our patience that we must have immediate action non stop?

    In particular I just read all of Hemingway’s short stories. Sort of interesting, at least I didn’t toss the book in the trash and switch on the TV.
    But compelling? No way. Almost all of them left me with a big question as to why it was written at all. Well clearly papa needed the money is why he wrote them, and Saturday Evening Post or whoever would print anything because he *was* Hemingway. And people would read it because he was Hemingway.
    And back then there was not a surfeit of famous authors.

    These days there are millions of authors, thousands more famous ones, and a lot more competition. Ernie’s ramblings just would not sell today because they were way too slow and ponderous if not outright dull and inane for the most part.

  • #656185

    Anonymous

    noobienieuw wrote:

    >
    > OTOH most people, especially newer writers, have no idea how to tell a good story
    > yet, so any guidance they get has to be useful.

    If a writer has no idea how to tell a good story, they haven’t read enough.

    > As to reading and learning how to do it by osmosis: I find that way too slow and
    > inefficient.
    > And often a total fail.
    > It failed at the uni when the English department tried the socratic method with us.

    I find the idea of “efficiency” when talking about a craft to be incongruous. A master potter did not get that designation by following a checklist. A master painter did not get there by doing paint-by-number. They worked for YEARS, learning by doing. Was that efficient? Probably not. But they were looking to hone their craft, not how to push out widgets that looked just like everybody else’s widgets.

    >
    > I would much rather have had a good textbook that was explicit in what it said to do.
    >
    > Then I could ignore it or use it as I found appropriate.
    > But giving us a blank book and saying figure it out for yourself just did not work
    > for most of my cohort.

    The problem with textbooks is that they will, inevitably, contradict other textbooks. For every how-to article/book, there will be another that tells you to do just the opposite. That’s why having been a voracious reader will be much more efficient because you will know what worked, instead of trying this thing and then that thing and then yet another thing.

    Writing a good story is really not that difficult. We are natural story-tellers from childhood. It’s when people decide that there’s a Right Way to do things, some “form” that has to be followed, that the story (and the author) suffer, and creativity is subjugated to “rules”.

  • #656186

    Anonymous

    noobienieuw wrote:

    > These days there are millions of authors, thousands more famous ones, and a lot more
    > competition. Ernie’s ramblings just would not sell today because they were way too
    > slow and ponderous if not outright dull and inane for the most part.

    Personal preference is not really a good argument for what’s good writing.

  • #656187

    margery65w
    Participant

    ostarella wrote:
    > noobienieuw wrote:

    > If a writer has no idea how to tell a good story, they haven’t read enough.

    Reading is a slow and inefficient way to learn how to tell a story.
    For many people it is a total fail.

    Glad it works so well for you. Been there done that, looking for something else to try.



    > I find the idea of “efficiency” when talking about a craft to be
    > incongruous

    Efficiency is important when learning the basics. Why waste time needlessly?
    And would not perfecting the craft faster be better than doing it with a slower approach?


    .
    >
    > The problem with textbooks is that they will, inevitably, contradict other textbooks.

    True. And if one textbook is not useful then another one may be. The alternative is trial and error.
    I would rather read several textbooks and pick what made sense than to try to write that guide on my own before I had any experience.



    >
    > Writing a good story is really not that difficult. We are natural story-tellers from
    > childhood.

    It may be easy for you. Many adult people are not natural born story tellers and they welcome the guidance of those who are.
    I am happy you find it easy but do realise that others welcome any guidance.
    And I emphasise the guidance aspect which is not mandatory rules or boxes to check off or else.

    ================

  • #656188

    Anonymous

    Well, again, efficiency really doesn’t come into play when trying to learn a craft. It isn’t a race. It’s an experiment. Hurrying the process generally shows in the end product.

    But, as my mother used to say: Each to his own, said the maid as she kissed the cow… 😀

  • #656189

    margery65w
    Participant

    ostarella wrote:
    > Well, again, efficiency really doesn’t come into play when trying to learn
    > a craft. It isn’t a race. It’s an experiment.

    I was taught to work smarter not harder.
    It may not be a race but most of us want to become proficient as quickly as possible and not waste effort.

    We do not see it as an experiment but rather as something to be taught by the experienced ones to those who are new so they don’t make the same mistakes nor waste time.

    A smart man learns from his mistakes.
    A genius learns from the mistakes of others.

  • #656190

    AngelinaK52
    Participant

    Over the years, I’ve learned:

    1. There are no shortcuts to becoming a great writer.
    2. Until such time you are a best-selling author, you must read more than you write. Lee Child still reads more than a hundred books a year.
    3. Books/Novels are your best textbooks.
    4. Do not expect your first novel/book to be a best-seller.
    5. If someone is asking basic how to questions, they don’t read enough.

    I believe a beginning writer should not read any how-to-books. There are hundreds of these books out there and if you read enough of them you’ll find contradictions in style, content, and opinion. This only confuses a beginning writer. Instead read, read, and read some more. Pick a genre, read several dozen best-sellers in that genre, and you’ll start to learn what works. Instead of a textbook learn through reading. For example, let’s say we want to learn how to get a novel started. Pick a best-seller and read the first few chapters several times. Now think about those chapters and write down some questions and answers like: what happened during the scene, how were the characters introduced, what was the inciting incident, how was the environment/surrounding set up, what of the five senses were used, what characters traits were used to describe the characters. Now rewrite those three chapters with new characters in a new location. Use all the senses: smell the roses, listen to the wind, feel the sand between your toes, and the taste of whatever meets your fancy. You can keep the same dialog or change it. The point is to learn from the novel on how to start a novel. You can invent your own lessons like this for any part of the novel. I’ve done this exact same thing with an author I’ve worked with on my own writing. When I told him what I was doing and showed him, he thought it was the greatest thing he’d seen, and he teaches all over the country. Now if I can just make this work for the entire novel. 🙂 The point is that textbooks are theory at best and most likely what worked for that one author. You get the same information but in actual context right from a novel.

  • #656191

    AngelinaK52
    Participant

    I’d like to add, if and when you have written one or more novels, then I could see you reading some of the how to books out there. Mainly because now you know what it takes to write a novel, which puts you in a better frame of mind while reading the how to book. Has anyone ever taken a course on something they know nothing about? Or you know something about a subject, then taken a course. Which way did you get more out of the course? A complete newbie or when you knew something about the subject?

  • #656192

    margery65w
    Participant

    T.A.Rodgers wrote:
    > Over the years, I’ve learned:
    >
    > 1. There are no shortcuts to becoming a great writer.
    > 2. Until such time you are a best-selling author, you must read more than
    > you write. Lee Child still reads more than a hundred books a year.
    > 3. Books/Novels are your best textbooks.
    > 4. Do not expect your first novel/book to be a best-seller.
    > 5. If someone is asking basic how to questions, they don’t read enough.

    > I’d like to add, if and when you have written one or more novels, then I could see you reading some of the how to books out there.

    IMHO and YMMV:

    1. There are long hard ways too. I prefer to work smarter not harder.
    2. Reading is good. But if you never write you will never have written.
    3. Novels may be good for you and Ostarella, I learn nothing significant from them. One size fits nobody.
    4. I do not expect to sell the first one at all.
    5. Asking questions is what smart people do. If they don’t read enough then it was to not read some basic instruction books but instead tried to
    create the wheel from scratch. Like Isaac Newton said: ‘ he stood on the shoulders of giants’ to be able to achieve what he did.

    Many people won’t ever get that first novel written without some guidance.
    They first need to read some basic advice from those who have written successfully.
    After you have written then it makes sense to look at more advanced books on writing that will help with specific aspects.

  • #656249

    ostarella
    Participant

    1. There are long hard ways too. I prefer to work smarter not harder.

    Most people do. But that’s why many of us counsel people to read what they want to write instead of trying to make sense of 10 different how-to books with at least 20 contradictions between them. Working smarter is, IMO, sitting down and writing and then looking at various how-to books to see if they have any advice that could help with the problems. Working harder is trying to fit a square writer into a round rule book.

    3. Novels may be good for you and Ostarella, I learn nothing significant from them. One size fits nobody.

    Again, most of us have always said that what works for one writer may not work for another. But I find it hard to believe that anyone would learn nothing of any significance from reading. It’s like saying a screenwriter learns nothing by watching movies.

    5. Asking questions is what smart people do. If they don’t read enough then it was to not read some basic instruction books but instead tried to
    create the wheel from scratch.

    But if you don’t know what questions to ask, then aren’t you trying truly trying to re-invent the wheel? The only basic instruction book one needs to read is a grammar book. That tells you the mechanics. After that, one needs to learn about story telling – and that comes from reading stories. Then you start writing and as questions arise you start looking for resources to answer those questions – whether it’s reading the advice given by various authors as to what worked for them or by coming to forums such as this. And even then, one has to actually try various things to see which one(s) work for them.

    Many people won’t ever get that first novel written without some guidance.
    They first need to read some basic advice from those who have written successfully.

    But whose guidance do they take? If I were to have read James Patterson’s advice on how to write a novel, I would never, ever have finished one. His methods are totally out of whack with the way I write. They may work very well for some others, but my writing would have been doomed. Until one has at least some idea of how one writes, trying to find their way via advice books will lead to dead ends, frustrations, and possibly never writing again.

    • #656260

      noobienieuw
      Participant

      I would prefer to look for a book with good guidance that I can use than to try to invent a process for myself.

      I would like to think most people are smart enough to sort through any contradictions and see where the books agree to make a wise choice of what to do.

      They told me when I taught at the uni that there are 4 types of learners.
      Clearly our preferences are orthogonal. One size fits nobody.

      Advanced screenwriters may learn from watching movies. Most aspiring writers learn more from the books written by successful film writers that spell out the basics that work for most of them.

      Patterson is the extreme and I do not think that he explained what he did all that well as opposed to telling us his overall approach. Rowling was also a planner although at the lower end of detail from Patterson.

      They used what worked for them, and clearly if it can’t work for you then you need to look elsewhere for advice. But since it works for me, that is the advice I will always give people who ask what they should do.

      I read King’s book and it did nothing for me with his approach so I kept looking. If there were another book on pantsing that better told how to copy his approach then I would be glad to look at that too.

      I read Ingersoll’s snowflake method and found parts of it that were useful to me. Perhaps because I worked with computers and software for a number of years so it made sense and agreed with what worked when making software based systems. And avoided what the computer experts agree will cause problems with quality andor schedule if you did it that way.

      Full disclosure: There now is a fad to write software by pantsing. It is called agile. Except in a few very small sized situations I have seen nothing but failure by my standards. Some who care not about quality but only speed of getting something done are the driving force to using that method.

      Clearly size is important as on the government side, which has larger systems and much more software, they are mandating a full process approach that drives the agilistas crazy as much as Trump has done to the democrats.

      More disclosure: Because size matters, when I write something small I do little, perhaps no planning, but when I write something large I always plan and organise as much as it needs so as to save time later on rework. Fortunately there are many, some mandated, templates for writing large documents used for business and/or government that greatly simplifies the planning and organising effort.

      So I am using the snowflake method plus other approaches I have added that seem to work better for me. Mostly bits and pieces from various books but a few gaps patched by my own design to see how they work. All subject to revision and improvement as I gain experience with it. And as always, when kaizen does not do it then kaikaku.

    • #656274

      ostarella
      Participant

      I would prefer to look for a book with good guidance that I can use than to try to invent a process for myself.

      How do you know what’s “good guidance” if you haven’t tried writing before? I could read a book about outlining, think that’s supposed to be “good guidance” because the author is published, and totally screw up my writing. I know what’s possibly good advice because I have written things before reading all these how-to books, so I know what works for me and what isn’t working, and therefore I can see what advice could mesh with the methods that already work for me, versus trying something that will only make things worse.

      I would like to think most people are smart enough to sort through any contradictions and see where the books agree to make a wise choice of what to do.

      So writing by consensus? Sounds like writing by committee – a sure way to destroy any story.

      Look, how-to books have their place – but it’s not teaching people how to write. They’re really nothing more than a list of things that that particular author does – and maybe, just maybe, a writer who’s having a specific problem will find something worthwhile to try. But if these books were universally useful, they’d all be saying the same things. They don’t – and that should speak loudly as to their usefulness to beginners.

  • #656277

    noobienieuw
    Participant

    WTF again. I posted a long reply and it disappeared again.

    Will it reappear at random like others did ?

    Is that captcha case sensitive ??
    What happens if it doesn’t like what you put in the box??

  • #656850

    Dreams of Tanelorn
    Participant

    margery65w
    Yet many famous authors merely ramble on about descriptions of stuff that is factual but irrelevant.

    😆

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