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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

These Shoes Are Going Somewhere (RE-POST)

They may be going toward something, or away from something, but they are going somewhere. This is how our scenes should be. One of my favorite quotes in The Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass is this: "Most instruction in writing scenes begins with the sound advice, send your character into the scene with a goal. Well, duh." Of course we all know this, but do we always apply it? According to Mr. Maass, many manuscripts fall short here, especially in the middle. So, why does this happen? If I understand Maass correctly, it is because we fail to define what it is that our POV character wants out of the scene, and, thus, our readers don't go into it with any expectations or hope for the outcome. In other words, something has to be on the line for our character, or the reader isn't going to care. Bottom line is, we need to clearly define what our character's wants are for each and every scene, and the outcome should either advance he/she toward that goal or push he/she further away from that goal. But there has to be movement in some direction. Have you looked closely at your character's wants? Is each scene a step forward or a step back in satisfying those wants? I don't know about you, but this is something I will be paying close attention to.

8 comments:

Tamika: said...

I'm working on a scene now that has me tripping over mt shoe strings. I really don't know myself what my MC needs.

I'll be pondering and praying...

Carolyn V. said...

That's the first thing I did in my new WIP. They had to have a goal to move them forward. Thanks Susan! =)

Elana Johnson said...

I totally agree with this. Motivation is key. KEY. And if the character doesn't know what their motivation is, how will the reader be able to decipher it?

David F. Weisman said...

Send your character into the scene with a goal? Especially good if you're writing about football, hockey, or soccer.

ROFL, my novel has plenty of goals and sub goals to get across. Doing them smoothly can be the tough part.

Jenn Johansson said...

Very interesting point! :) Now I need to look at all the scenes I've ever written and make certain the motivation is clear.

...thanks alot. lol ;)

WhisperingWriter said...

Goals huh? I better go back and check to make sure my chapters have that. Some do though one is just the character freaking out I think.

lauraabest said...

I sometimes think it's a good thing that real life is not as calculated as our fiction.

You're absolutely right, though. There does have to be a purpose in order to keep it interesting for the reader. A good reminder.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm working on the outline for my latest novel, and that's what I think about as I try to figure what happens next. But you can't just know your mc's motivations. You have to know those of the supporting characters, too. That's where the conflict comes from.

Great post as always!