Act One, Part Three: Double Scene Sequence

One way to describe the difference between discovery drafts and truck drafts is that discovery drafts are “this happens and then this happens and this happens,” and truck drafts are “and this is what those things mean.” The way to do that isn’t by telling the reader what the stuff means; it’s by putting the action on the page in a way that leads the reader to interpret subconsciously what it means. Structure is one excellent way to communicate meaning. Continue reading

Rewriting Double Scene Sequences, Part One

So. The next chunk. It’s boring.

That’s not exactly true, Nita almost gets killed, so that’s good, but there’s still too much chat. (I love dialogue.) And Nick’s stuff is deadly dull. The structure doesn’t help; it’s two scene sequences spliced together which insures that one of those sequences will be annoying because it’ll take people away from the one they liked. So here’s what I need to do: Continue reading

Act One, Part Two: Scene Sequence: Bringing the Team Together

So the first part of Act One is two parallel scenes: Nita vs. Button and Nick vs Vinnie. Or, if you will, two determined drunk people against two determined sober people. In the first scene, Nita wins because she convinces Button it’s important to get out of the car and investigate. In the second scene, Nick wins because he terrorizes Vinnie into giving him information. And both winners want the same thing: To find out what’s going wrong on the island and get the person who ordered Joey’s death. The scenes are parallel, but they’re not identical.

The key to parallel scenes is to make them enough alike that they feel as if they belong together, that they’re part of a whole, but keep them different enough that people don’t feel as though they’re reading the same scene with different people. Then having introduced two powerful (hey, they won) protagonists, it’s time to bring them together while developing the plot. In this case, the plot is complex enough that introducing their relationship is going to take more than one scene. In fact, it’s going to take a scene sequence. Continue reading

Act One, Part One: Parallel Scenes for the Beginning

The opening scene of any story should be (if I’m writing it, your mileage may differ) the transition from the stable world into the unstable. That doesn’t mean that everything is hunky dory at the beginning of the scene, there can be a lot of trouble, but it’s the usual trouble, nothing new, the protagonist’s world is still working the way he or she expects it to. And then Something Happens that turns the stable world into an unstable one. Continue reading

Act One: The Synopsis

One of the things that charting an act can do (once you’re at the truck draft stage) is give you the synopsis of the act. Yes, I know synopses usually are for entire stories, but if you think of each act as a story in itself (and I do), then an act synopsis is a huge help because if you can tell yourself in one paragraph the plot of an act, you can hold the shape of that act in your head as you revise. A discovery draft is “this happens, and then this happens, and oh look what just showed up, and then this happens and wait this happened earlier, and . . .” It’s incoherent because it’s not supposed to be coherent, it’s supposed to be creative and free and anything goes.

The truck draft has to be coherent. Continue reading

Act One: The Big Picture

As has probably become painfully clear, I’m one of those writers who has to see what she’s written to see what she’s writing, the fictional equivalent of “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” This makes the writing process long and convoluted. I have tried to streamline it (I wrote three books with an outline-first Green Beret), and it does not work for me (I think the Green Beret is now in therapy because of those three books). This is how it works for me, and there’s no point in wasting time trying to find a way to not waste so much time.

Which means that more than a year after I said, “I’m not going to write this book,” I’m only about half done and I’m still trying to figure out exactly how this book works. So it’s Big Picture Time. Continue reading

Dreaming Blurbs (Rev.) (Rev. Again) (Rev Again)

I woke up this morning with one of those She/He blurbs in my brain. I have no idea, it’s not dreamwork, the last thing I did before I fell asleep was work a crossword. What was interesting about it, as I fought my way awake (very slow waker-upper here), was how it pointed out the weaknesses in the story. It’s not a good blurb, but evidently the Girls weren’t interested in good blurb, they were shrieking at me to fix my protagonist.

Here’s the bad blurb: Continue reading

Still Cutting Breakfast (Rev. with Hint)

So I’ve been cutting the hell out of the breakfast scene, and it’s no longer 4400 words. Now it’s 3400. Which means I need to go back in there and hack some more, at least another 600 words, plus I need to add a couple of sentences from the lunch scene. So it’s gonna be awhile. In the meantime, there’s an Easter Egg in the drafts you’ve read so far. In all honesty, I don’t expect anybody to get it because the reference is to a book I published more than a decade ago and it’s really, really obscure. On the other hand, you like puzzles. So there’s a single word in the stuff you’ve read so far that ties this book to some of my other stories.

If nobody gets it by tomorrow night this time, I’ll tell you what the word is. And it’ll still be obscure. When I plant an Easter Egg, I plant it deep.

Yeah, it’s too obscure. I’ll give you the word: