On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Scene Goals

Image hosted by Photobucket.com This gets back to the contest judging. I didn't care for a ms. though it was technically pretty good, until I figured out this was why, no scene goals....(btw, we have a very gifted, detailed critiquer in our group who only has to look up and say "Scene Goal" and there's a mass shudder...like a wave...we have a big crit group right now).

What is the PURPOSE of a scene? To reveal character. To move the plot forward. But the most effective scene does this by having a character who has a goal, a plan to reach that goal, and is pursuing that goal. Then there's conflict. Something prevents the character from reaching the goal, or the goal is reached but in an unexpected way that makes the character scramble or leaves him/her worse off.

Hmmm...you can use this even passively. Alexa in Guardian of Honor had a goal of staying in bed and hiding from the world the morning after she landed in Lladrana. I have set up something called The Snap which is when your mother world (Earth) calls to you and you get pulled back home. Alexa learned about this and decided to stay in bed and wait. Not a big goal. Not an incredibly courageous and honorable goal. A pretty puny goal.

What happens? People try and get her out of the room (they have their own goals and plans for her -- not nice plans). Alexa stands (lays) firm. She snuggles in and pulls pillows over her head. BUT the night before she bonded with a baby. The Marshalls put the baby outside the door. After a while the baby cries. Alexa weakens and goes (new plan) to comfort the baby. She is nabbed...her plans fail, the Marshalls' plan succeed (for the next couple of scenes where Alexa is just going along, but THEY have the scene goals and she is struggling to understand what's going on).

Now, here's another sceanario. The heroine and girlfriends go to breakfast and you learn something about the heroine. So what? That's background. What does she really want? Why is she where she is? How does she plan to get what she wants? The hero passes the heroine and is a little disturbed by her intensity. What was he doing in the first place? Why is this important? Will he be scared off by her or pursue her? If you don't answer these questions, the scene falls flat, the reader has little emotional investment in it. Your conflict and upsetting of plans draws the reader through the story, hook by hook.

I'm tired, and writing this beforehand at night. So I may very well not be explaining it well. So here's an excellent link: http://www.bronwynjameson.com/article7.html
helpful even for pantzers like me...

May your scenes evolve smoothly today until your characters are totally conflicted. Go WRITERS!


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