Zelda 3: Beats and Bad Timing

I played hookey today and wrote 3500 words on my Fun Book, the one that’s not under contract and won’t be for months. I guess that’s Busman’s Hookey, isn’t it? Shirking work to do work? But it’s so much fun to have a book I’m not talking about, one that I’m just playing with. Everything I wrote is Don’t Look Down Draft which means it’s going to need massive rewrites, but still that’s some work there.

Then I went back to You Again and looked at the first scene. You remember, the one I cut more than half of. It’s still too long. It has too many beats, I think.

The same way stories are broken into scenes, scenes are broken into beats of conflict. Each beat is a struggle of its own that has a climax/turning point that throws the scene into the next beat. I like three-beat scenes because I think that’s a natural rhythm for people, but it’s not something I’m rigid about. If a scene has four beats or two beats and it works, fine by me.

Zelda’s first scene has six beats.

• The first beat is her in the car, arguing with Scylla about going into Rosemore.

• The second is facing Rose at the front door and then yielding and going in.

• The third is in the entry where Rose tells her she wants her to come to Rosemore permanently to start a garden/nursery.

• The fourth is in the hallway where Rose tells Zelda about her mother.

• The fifth is in the entry, Zelda on her way out the door, when Rose tells her if she stays she’ll help her find her father.

• The sixth is Rose’s final move which defeats Zelda completely in this scene, fulfilling everything she was afraid of in the first beat.

I can cut the mother stuff and use that later, i think. That gives me five beats.

And her fight with Rose is really just these four beats:

• At the door, resisting going into the entry hall (Scylla).

• In the entryway, resisting going into the central hall (garden).

• In the central hall, making a break for the entry (father.

•In the entry way, not making it out the door and falling into Rose’s clutches.

Except I need that beat with Scylla at the beginning to set the hook and show the reader how much Zelda dreads Rosemore. Except that’s not part of the struggle. Except Rose is in cahoots with Scylla so it IS the first beat of her struggle with Rose. Except the reader won’ t know that, so it’ll feel like I’m switching antagonists.

So it’s

1. In the car, resisting going into Rose’s clutches (Rose speaking through Scylla)
2. At the door, resisting going into the entry hall (Scylla).
3. In the entryway, resisting going into the central hall (garden).
4. In the central hall, making a break for the entry (father.
5. n the entry way, not making it out the door and falling into Rose’s clutches.

That’s still a lot of beats, and that first one is still iffy. Argh. And none of it echoes the last scene which is a pain in the butt because I like to bookend.

So maybe Zelda doesn’t make a break for it. Let’s try this again. Since she’s going to be fighting going out the back door in the climax, maybe she’ll just be fighting going in here.

1. In the car, resisting going into Rose’s clutches (Rose speaking through Scylla)
2. At the door, resisting going into the entry hall (Scylla).
3. In the entryway, resisting going into the central hall (garden).
4. In the central hall, resisting going into the sitting room (father).
5. Trapped in the hall, falling into Rose’s clutches.

Still too much stuff. The scene won’t bear that much info.

1. In the car, resisting going into Rose’s clutches (Rose speaking through Scylla)
2. At the door, resisting going into the entry hall (Scylla, garden).
3. In the entryway, resisting going into the central hall (father).
4. In the central hall, falling into Rose’s clutches.

So more cutting. And shaping because each of those beats should get shorter and right now they don’t. I just rambled. Time to tighten things up, get those rhythms in place so I can go write the last scene and balance them.

Except now it feels too short, too abrupt. Oh, hell, I’m just going to have to go back in and write it. At least it’s not a million slow beats now.

Progress.

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19 thoughts on “Zelda 3: Beats and Bad Timing

  1. “Rose’s clutches” repeated a whole lot here. If I didn’t know you were dead set on keeping the identity of the antagonist a surprise, Rose would seem like the perfect unassuming person, asking Zelda to stay and start a nursery, playing up the whole we’ve-missed-you-and-want-you-around bit. Plus the offering to help find Zel’s paternal unit. Hmm…

  2. ooooo.

    that’s all. i have homework. my wit will go into that.

    but oooooo. (and the “play/work book. ooooooo)

    brooke: i don’t know about dancing, but apparently i can sing it. 🙂

  3. Just wanted you to know I find your writing process fascinating and am grateful that you are willing to share it with us. Until now, I’ve never really thought about beats in a scene or read much about them…thanks for shedding light on the concept.

  4. BCB: LOL
    I think maybe you can combine the Scylla working on Zelda in the car and at the front door into one beat. They both basically say, “resisting going into the house.”

  5. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it is watching something like this get built. I know writing is work, it simply isn’t MY work, which makes it mysterious and interesting. Riveting, really. You have no idea.

  6. Ok, I know this is slightly off topic (today’s topic anyway) but I think I know why Zelda is searching for her father. There were some Important Papers in her mother’s safe deposit box that went missing. Apparently, when dear old dad disappeared, so did the papers. What those papers are, and why they are important is up to Jenny. After all, she is the writer, not me.

  7. I read hookey as “hockey” and went “She played hockey!” I think the rinks have frozen my brain, not to mention my fingers.

    After I got over the intial shock and realized you weren’t playing hockey and just hookey, I went back and re-read the post. Interesting, but the ice isn’t melting in my brain yet, I think I have to let this one settle a bit. Good luck.

  8. Oh dear. I’ve been hearing Sonny and Cher in my head since I first read the title of this post this morning.

  9. Re Rose working through Scylla and confusing antagonists: could Rose phone Scylla on her mobile in the car?

  10. Okay, if writing is this hard for Jennifer Crusie, what in hell is it going to be like for me?

    Is it still fun, though? I want it to be fun.

    Say it’s still fun.

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