Thursday, January 5, 2012

Scene Stuff

Quick hello! So at a birthday party the other day it emerged that my writer friend April Henry has a deadline when I do, and that our friend Holly Westlund, who was the birthday girl, is shooting for finishing her w.i.p. also at the same time. So we've been sending each other pep talk emails for the last couple of days, and today April sent a list of prompts and things to think about while writing and this one particularly struck me. It's really close to what I do, with an important step I've been conveniently neglecting, but need to get back to! And with my next scene, I will. Can you guess which one it is?

  1. What needs to happen?
  2. Who needs to be there?
  3. Where could it take place? How make it interesting? What activity could characters be doing? 
  4. What’s the most surprising thing that could happen? Brainstorm three different ways it could begin.
  5. Play it on the movie screen in your head.
  6. Write a scribble version - five minutes to get the bare minimum down.
  7. Write the full scene.

(April said she drew this list from HERE, posted by screenwriter John August. His list is longer and more detailed and relates more specifically to screenplays.)
What do you think? Super helpful, no? There's so much that resonates with me. 

I like question (3) -- it is the equivalent of my own "What is the coolest way this plot thing might happen?" or "What is the coolest way this information might be revealed?" or whatever. 

And I do make myself brainstorm multiple ways, like in question (4). Rarely is the first way the way the best!

I don't really do (5), but it's an interesting idea. Do you do it? Maybe I'll try it. 

Question (6) is what I've been neglecting! Going to get back to it though.

Hope these are helpful to you too!

And ... how about some random signage, because why not? 

HA HA HA!!! Bacon. *wipes away single laughter tear*


Hee hee. There's a church in our neighborhood that has a drive-by prayer box (what IS that anyway?) that some helpful bypasser has converted to a prayer Xbox, ha ha! 


Okay. Back to work!


Irene said...

Such helpful questions!
Also: nice banner-update, it makes me want to read DoSaB again (and again and again) :-)

Trudy said...

This list is just what I need to spur me on for 2012 - after I've checked out April's website, that is!

tone almhjell said...

Aahahah! Bacon! Haha! I have to show this to my brother.

I was just staring at a pesky scene that doesn't work with the new, shiny version of my story. A whole chapter, really. Maybe I'll do the steps. Six, though? I don't think I have that in me. Niggle, niggle, never wiggle. That's me.

Kelley Lynn said...

I definitely do the 'movie scene' in my head. It's like my thoughts are a constant movie...actually :)

Thanks for the tips!

Kristan said...

LOL “receive bacon” just about killed me. The seal was pretty good, too.

That's a great list, and John August's blog is fantastic. I've been a subscriber for years.

Anonymous said...

Hey there, those are some mighty fine questions laid out up there! *steal steal* Thank you, ma'am! Also, already shared the bacon pic with some of my bacon buddies here in the office. *steal steal again!*

Kristin said...

I start with #5 and write what I can see. It is like the visualization of reading, but not written yet. But I don't think it's working so well, because I can't see enough.

Amanda Olivieri said...

YES, that is a great mental checklist for scenes. Definitely saving it. Also, I seriously laughed out loud from some of those pics! Haha!


Those are great questions! It makes me look at my writing in a whole new way. Desperately needed!!

Thanks for the laughs!
Luck with the deadlines!


Holly said...

I discovered the beauty of #6 yesterday, too. Soooo helpful! Why had i never done that before? I've dissected outlines painfully; i've sat and thought REALLY hard, but... hand writing a quick list of what needs to happen seems to disconnect the editor in my head and drop me into the core of a scene. I'll definitely be doing this again. I'm so glad April shared, too.

Laurence King said...

I, for one, like #3. #6 sounds interesting, and I'll think I'll try it for my next scene. Thanks so much for those, Laini. Super helpful.
The signs are hilarious.

Anonymous said...

I'm just laughing at the signs. There are some marvellous people out there.

Jade Hart said...

I like those suggestions. I am a complete 'write by the seats of my flaming pants' kinda girl and lately have needed some stability in where my characters are taking me. I might try them out and see how they go.
BTW, just like everyone else I adored Daughter. I live in NZ and love it. Love it! I'm writing my own YA, and you're a role model for extremely great literature. :) Thanks Laini.

LL said...

I think I am going to play with these suggestions tonight! I gave myself a break from writing over the holidays and returned last night. Now I am not sure how to jump back into my w.i.p. after three weeks away, and this has given me a good way to stretch my writing muscles a little bit. Thank you much!!

D.B. Smyth said...

This is exactly what I needed. Thank you!!!

Buffy said...

I started reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone on the plane home from vacation yesterday. I finished this morning, at 4:30am, hiding beneath the covers so as not to wake the Hubble with my kindle light. Oh. My. God. There are no more words than that.

Jennie Bailey said...

When I worked at Disney, the parking structure was freezing cold all the time. One morning as I made my way down the stairwell, I came face to face with the Abominable Snowman! Someone had put big pictures of him up on every level. I laughed all the way down. Best surprise ever!

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