Bickham, Scene and Structure: How to construct fiction with scene-by-scene flow, logic and readability. Over the years I have returned to this book numerous times, each time learning more about the role of cause and effect in creating scenes and sequels. In a nutshell, Bickham explains how to write a scene in real-time dramatic action and dialogue, with minimal description or character internalizations. The action builds from scene goal, through complications, to scene climax, just as the overall plot does, but on a smaller scale.
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Bickham, Scene and Structure: How to construct fiction with scene-by-scene flow, logic and readability. Over the years I have returned to this book numerous times, each time learning more about the role of cause and effect in creating scenes and sequels. In a nutshell, Bickham explains how to write a scene in real-time dramatic action and dialogue, with minimal description or character internalizations.
The action builds from scene goal, through complications, to scene climax, just as the overall plot does, but on a smaller scale. When the result of the scene goal is known, the scene ends and a sequel begins, consisting of an emotional reaction, thought, and a decision.
Scenes and sequels, one after another, written according to cause and effect, action and reaction, allow a story to move swiftly forward.
Scenes and sequels are crucial building blocks of narrative, and creative writers must understand not only what they are, but how to manipulate them to create a desired effect. How often have you been told that a story bogs down because of back-story? Scenes and sequels, correctly used, eliminate the problematic nature of back-story and focus on the forward narrative thrust.
Scenes are long. Sequels are short. Scenes are active; sequels allow the character to catch her breath, express emotion at the success or failure in the scene, and think through her options to arrive at a new plan of action. The sequel, not the scene, is the appropriate place to insert any necessary back-story or soul searching.
Scenes and Sequels: Scene The scene half of scene and sequel usually begins with a statement. In The Gift of the Magi , O. Henry creates a statement of goal by writing [italics mine] : Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard.
She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. In a scene, each attempt to succeed at the stated goal is followed by conflict or complications that result in failure, or a tactical disaster.
Characters may fail psychologically, through an inability to understand, or an inability to push past fear, for example. Henry raises tension with scenes and sequels in The Gift of the Magi by having Della first want to buy a gift for her husband. After the scene set up, she feels despair at her situation and devises a plan to move her toward her goal: Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass.
Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its colour within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length. Della has made her decision. In an active scene, she runs up the road to Mme. Henry shows us the result in real-time: "Will you buy my hair? Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. When Success is Failure If the result of that scene and sequel were so easy that Della merely sold her hair and bought Jim a satisfactory gift, the story would fail.
Instead O. Henry creates the only type of success that is more powerful than failure in a narrative, which is when success creates a terrible irony or a new, larger problem for the character. This type of success trumps failure in your scenes and sequels because it not only increases tension but sends a twinge of pleasure through the reader with its clever twist.
Success that is failure almost always comes as a surprise, and surprises resulting from logical cause and effect delight readers. She hurries home to curl her short hair, worried about what Jim will think.
At home, she whispers a silent prayer that he will still find her pretty. Notice that she worries. This too raises tension, as the reader worries with her. Surely Jim is not so shallow that he will care that she has lost her beautiful locks, the reader thinks, but one never knows. Tension reaches its peak when Jim arrives home.
Of course, all is not well when Jim sees her. This is a story after all, and stories demand complications. He stares at her in the oddest way. I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas!
For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped for long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise-shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair.
They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone. A lesser author might have ended there, but of course O. Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.
I hunted all over town to find it. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on. And then many more scenes and sequels. The sequel begins right after the tactical disaster or failure. Or, as in this case, success that created a larger problem. Having not achieved her goal in the scene, the character is thrown into an introspective state in the sequel--first a period of sheer emotion, followed by thought, which results in a decision about what to do, followed by new action, which leads to a scene where the new goal is stated or obviously implied, and the scene cycle begins again.
Scene and sequel. Sometimes writers arrange scenes and sequels as chapters, as Anne Tyler does in The Accidental Tourist, which opens with an active scene.
When that chapter ends with Sarah asking for a divorce, the second chapter opens with a sequel that shows Macon attempting to make sense of his life in the family home. Again, scene and sequel. An author may leave a line break and start a sequel directly after the break. The sequel to the first chapter will appear when the author returns to that first character. Barbara Kingsolver uses this technique in Prodigal Summer.
Short scenes and sequels may also appear inside larger scenes, with no line break between the scene and sequel, just the swing back and forth from action to reaction, action to reaction. Lawrence uses scenes and sequels in this way in his story Rocking Horse Winner : The child looked at her to see if she meant it. But he saw, by the lines of her mouth, that she was only trying to hide something from him.
He stared at her. The boy saw she did not believe him; or rather, that she paid no attention to his assertion. This angered him somewhere, and made him want to compel her attention. Absorbed, taking no heed of other people, he went about with a sort of stealth, seeking inwardly for luck.
He wanted luck, he wanted it, he wanted it. When the two girls were playing dolls in the nursery, he would sit on his big rocking-horse, charging madly into space, with a frenzy that made the little girls peer at him uneasily. Wildly the horse careered, the waving dark hair of the boy tossed, his eyes had a strange glare in them.
The little girls dared not speak to him. Here we see the tail end of an active, real-time scene in which a greedy and self-absorbed mother tries to explain luck to her son. When the scene ends, the boy moves off to digest what he has learned.
He has an emotional reaction modern writers would show this, but Lawrence, writing in an earlier time, tells readers that the boy is angry. The boy then thinks the matter through, as he should in a sequel, and arrives at a new goal.
He will find Luck. When he had ridden to the end of his mad little journey, he climbed down and stood in front of his rocking-horse, staring fixedly into its lowered face. Its red mouth was slightly open, its big eye was wide and glassy-bright.
Now take me! He knew the horse could take him to where there was luck, if only he forced it. So he would mount again and start on his furious ride, hoping at last to get there.
But he only glared down on them in silence. Nurse gave him up. She could make nothing of him. Anyhow, he was growing beyond her. One day his mother and his Uncle Oscar came in when he was on one of his furious rides.
He did not speak to them. Riding a winner? But Paul only gave a blue glare from his big, rather close-set eyes.
Scene and sequel
Arajar Good Information but the reading was very tedious. You are commenting using your WordPress. The title should be at least 4 characters long. Ao editar cenas, observe os seguintes pontos: Check out the top books of the year on our page Best Books of May 13, Alex rated it really liked it. It has more protagonists and fewer antagonists, and so it may have several main characters in one SCENE.
Scenes and Sequels: The Essential Building Blocks
Standard I actually read this book twenty years ago—and remembered nothing from it. But it was full of my underlining and border notes in my handwriting, so I definitely read it. The late Jack Bickham wrote 75 novels two of which were made into films and six books on the craft of fiction. He understands how to write a story.