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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Inner and Outer Appeal

These shoes have both. I know. I know. I've already used this picture before, but it's perfect for today's post, and I thought you were all forgiving people. These shoes look good on the outside and are so comfy on the inside. How many shoes can you say that about? According to Donald Maass in The Fire In Fiction, our middle scenes should have both outer and inner turning points. In other words, each scene should cause two things: an outer change that everyone can see, and a change within the POV character. Maass thinks this can make the difference between a scene that can be cut and one that must stay. He suggests that we break each scene down and pinpoint the exact outer turning point, and then match it with an inner turning point. It makes sense, doesn't it? Especially when you have these scenes in the middle that are only there to advance the plot. You can breathe fire into them by revealing how the POV character is changed by the scene, thus giving it a whole new purpose. I have many scenes in my middle that are necessary to advance the plot or shed light on the situation at hand, but they are bland. In looking at them, if I take this advice to heart, they could become crucial, unforgettable scenes. What about you? Are your scenes loaded with both outer and inner appeal?

38 comments:

Tamika: said...

Another great post Susan! I can't wait to set my eyes on this book. As soon as NaNo is over it will be my first priority.

I haven't made it to middle scenes yet, but this is wonderful information. I love the inner conflict of my MC, she has so many problems swimming underneath the surface.

Paul Greci said...

I like the way you phrased this. I often look for two things in scenes, do they advance the plot and do they develop character, but I like the specific focus of looking at how the POV character has changed in each scene. Thanks for this great post!

Robyn Campbell said...

Oh, I know. I read this. It is exciting to think that our scenes can do this. I have read many books where this was not the case. I quit reading them too and wished I'd never spent money on them.

So I want my scenes, particularly the middle scenes to be unforgettable. I want my middle to be robust. I am taking this advice to heart.

Thanks for clarifying this Susan. You know, without your talking about this, I would not have picked the book up at this time. But you discussing it, made it easy for me to grasp. Great posts.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Oh, I like this!

Since I'm doing NaNo I'm working on a "new" book and I've been writing out scenes for the next chapters. I love this method of deciding whether to use a scene or not. Donald Maass ROCKS!! And so do you, Susan :)

Beth said...

Lord, I hope so. These have been awesome posts, and I'm thinking that I'm going to have to go out and buy this book so that I can get my MS in good shape after the first draft!

Kristi Faith said...

Absolutely, Susan! You are a wealth of information and I appreciate your sharing. Especially since right now I really can't afford books. LOL I rely on our little library and the many wonders of the internet. Especially this fabulous blogosphere. :)

I honestly will have to go back and look at those scenes next month. I don't know if I do or not. I will definitely star this post.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Something new to think about! :0) It comes at a great time... I'm going to add that in my evaluations.

Amy Tate said...

I think this is where a critique group is critical. Sometimes I have a difficult time seeing that because I'm so close to the story.

Mary said...

great tip - I've been struggling with some chapters lately. I'll keep this in mind as I rework them.

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Great post. I'm reading this book along with you, so thanks for the recommendation. It definitely makes me look at my scenes in a different way.

Julie Dao said...

I really like this and how you compared it to those comfy shoes! I never give much thought to inner appeal but that should be most important. Now I'm really looking forward to December so I can revise and check on my middle scenes!

Janna Qualman said...

Gosh, I don't know! And I've got to get a handle on all this. Stressful!

Diane said...

Love the shoes. needed up here in the cold NY weather. Definite keepers! Hope you have a great week! :O)

Anita Saxena said...

Thanks for sharing this important piece of advice.
BTW...comfy, fuzzy shoes are the secret to happiness.

~Ellie Kings~ said...

I used to have a pair of those. But in pink! Seriously, they are the most comfy slippers by far!
Don't know where they went off to... must've lost 'em during one my moves. Great! Now you made me miss them Susan! :)

My scenes are loaded... in my head... when I get it all down on paper!:D

Dawn Simon said...

I love the tips you're giving. (I also love the shoes. They look so comfy--like my work shoes/slippers--but I could wear them out of the house!) You're giving highlights I can apply to my work before I read my copy of Maass's book.

strugglingwriter said...

That sounds like a lot of work, though. :)

Thanks for the tip. I'll try to keep it in mind once I start editing.

Dominique said...

Honestly, I don't know. Some I think are about the internal and some are about the external. I should probably try to layer them together to get heart and plot into one. On the other hand, when I try to do that, I sometimes feel like my characters are saying, "Okay,well, now that I've dealt with my emotions and our issues in our relationship, what was that thing related to the plot that you wanted to tell me?"

Yaya' s Changing World said...

You make a very good point. I always enjoy reading your words, as they help me to improve my own writing. Thank you.

I wanted to tell you about a $75 prize being given away. Be sure to head over and read all about it. Hurry 'cause we only have until the 6th of November to enter. Hurry, hurry! ~ Yaya

http://yayashome.blogspot.com

Deb@RGRamblings said...

This is great info--I need this book!

Corey Schwartz said...

I'm going to come back and reread all these posts if I ever decide to try a novel!

Nancy said...

That sounds like good advice. Does the outer, inner thing ever come to you on the first draft, or do you find yourself going back and needing to put it in?

Angie Muresan said...

Susan, another wonderful post! Hope your revisions are coming along without much trouble.

melane said...

Great information! I haven't reached my middle scenes yet, but I will definitely remember this. The inner conflict is something I have to work on.

Melanie's Randomness said...

You got me thinking. I'm tempted to start my story off that i'm trying to write by jumping into a day of this girl's life & having lil hidden things that will affect her in her POV and eventually hers & the readers POV will be one. I have those shoes too!! Sooo comfy. =)

Laura Martone said...

Good advice, as always. I'm currently preparing for a film fest in a couple weeks, but after that, I'll plunge into my revisions in earnest, and this advice (along with all your other wonderfully helpful posts) will give me the perspective I so desperately need.

P.S. I'm sorry, Susan, I've been so absent here lately. It's nothing personal - honest. I'm just "meeting myself coming and going" as my beloved grandmother would say.

Stephanie L. McGee said...

Great post. As for your question, I really don't know. I've yet to analyze in that sort of depth and detail. Must finish the draft first...sigh.

Terri Tiffany said...

Ok--right now I am going to order the book. It's all I think about! I want to write better!

#167 Dad said...

How do you do it blog in and blog out with the shoes? It's brilliant. Perhaps your next book should be about shoes.

Patti said...

I've read a few Donald Maass books, but I'll try to pick this one up.

Matthew Delman said...

Yeah, I know I can make my scenes pop more than they have been. This is easy for action sequences because I tend to write those very well (and they're not emotionally deep), but the more emotion-driven scenes are the killers for me.

These posts have really made me reconsider a lot of preconceived notions I have about writing and my novels in general. Thanks for doing them, Susan!

Girl in My Own World said...

The posts this week are very educational! This is so great! I am going to look for this book. Also, $30 Dollar Writing School by Michael Dean is great! It comes with a disc and covers mostly all of the writing process... from how to write, software, and getting published. I highly recommend! :o)

Tara said...

I think I need a pair of those shoes. :] I like the idea of inner and outer changes.

Tess said...

I have heard this before and try to keep it mind when I'm writing. I dont always succeed...but I try.

Anonymous said...

I have blue, brown, and black shoes like these, they are the best! As far as writing, I am just a devoted reader, I only write anonymous comments on certain blogs. Yours is deffinitely one of the best I have ever come across! Keep up the great work, and never, never never give up!

Faith said...

Good grief, I have no idea... but now I know that I definitely, definitely need to track down a copy of this book!!! Too many people have told me too many good things about it for me to ignore it any longer. :) Sounds like I could learn plenty from it!

My name is PJ. said...

A writer! I do believe I'll learn a lot from your blog!

Hi! I'm PJ,host of the Amazon giveaway. You're one of my new followers and I like to meet and greet those I haven't met and gret yet! :) Welcome!

I'm following along on your blog now too!

Lily Robinson said...

I love that you keep posting on my current problem. It's been helpful. Gotta get that book...