July 14, 2009

Sample Scenes: Good and Bad, and How to Fix Them

For the past couple of days, I've been working on Lesson 8 of Think Sideways. So far, I have written a Sentence Lite describing each one of my 54 scenes (a few of which haven't been written yet). As I mentioned before, some of my scenes have everything they need.

Others have been found lacking.

So as part of my process I've decided to post some of my less-than-savory scene sentences. As I revise them, you should be able to see an improvement (I hope).
WARNING: SPOILERS. Stop reading this post if you don't want to read them!

But first, so you can see 1) what does work, 2) what I'm aiming for, and 3) that there is some hope for me as a writer, I'm going to post a couple of sentences that I'm pleased with.

Here, we have protagonist (Nathan) against the antagonist (burning wreckage) in a conflict (fighting to save Rachel's life) with a twist (Nathan is a ghost, but is somehow able to pull Rachel to safety). The setting is embedded in the antagonist: burning wreckage.

The protagonist (Rachel) against the antagonist (the shade) in conflict (an attack that causes Rachel to lose consciousness) with a twist (the shade was waiting for her).
This one isn't quite twisty enough and could use some tweaking.

So here it goes. My crappy scenes:

Okay "introduces" and "explaining" are not conflict. They are boring. There isn't an antagonist. I suppose Nathan's unique situation could be a twist, but it's not a very good one. See the fixed version here.
Again, a conversation isn't conflict. For there to be conflict in dialogue, they have to want different things or there has to be some subtext that causes conflict. The improved scene is here.

While this is great news for Lisa, there isn't much conflict. The scene needs some work and the sentence needs a LOT of work. Mostly, Rachel is suspicious of Kevin, but doesn't want to disappoint her friend. That's the conflict, but it could be better. Improved scene: here.

Learning is not conflict. Nor is a discussion. There needs to be more tension. There needs to be something at stake here. See the improved version of this scene.

I think the scene is okay, but the sentence needs reworking. The verbs aren't very strong and don't convey any tension. Here's the improved scene.

So there you have it. 5 scenes in desperate need of a makeover. Let's see what I can do.
Here are the before and after shots of my first three scenes.


Emily C. said...

I think I've finally enabled comments!

Emily C. said...


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