Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The plot doctor is in

You might remember my Plotter FAIL! of a couple months back -- it got a lot of hits.

The fix I came up with worked, more or less, but a small comment from one of my CPs suddenly undermined it all. To paraphrase her: The scene where [big event happens] is kinda rushed. It needs more weight.

The patch I put in because of my Plotter FAIL was what put the squeeze on Big Event Scene. The patch kinda turned into a Big Event itself in the writing -- which meant I ended up with four disasters in my story. This violates the Rule of Three. The patch was causing multiple problems.

It was a good revision session. Pic from Showtime's series Dexter.
So, taking my lead from Dexter, I hung plastic sheeting and prepared to fix the problem. Obviously, the patch and the Big Event needed to merge into one. Tricky, but do-able.

One of the biggest concerns in moving events around is the impact it has on the characters. I was moving a scene to slightly earlier in the story, but whichever way you're moving you still need to be aware of where your characters are when the scene begins, how that will impact their reactions to the events, and where they will be when the scene ends.
This is true of any scene, and I think it's easier when you're revising because you can see the whole story more clearly. You are more able to ask:
  • Does this make sense dramatically? What problems does it solve and what problems does it create?
  • Is there anything the character learned between the two scenes that they won't know when the order of events changes? Or anything they will know, if you're moving an early scene to later? Characters should never act according to information they don't have.
  • How does this impact the emotional sequence? Especially if relationships loom large in your story -- moving an event will change its impact. Sit down with your characters and consider all the repercussions carefully.
Don't forget about the mundane stuff, either. Worry about the gear the characters have on hand, what they're wearing, how much of the city will burn down in this iteration, what to do with the time you've added or deleted by moving scenes around.

And after you've re-written the whole scene, realize that the city was still on fire at the end... whoops, somebody want to fix that...?

Adjust the fallout
Don't forget to adjust the downstream action to reflect the new sequence of events. Since everything is connected to each other, in a story, shifting a scene will always have some impact further along in the story. Often, that's exactly why you moved the scene in question -- but unexpected details can turn up, so be vigilant.

Have you had to move a major scene? What sorts of problems did that create?

Kickstarter UPDATE! 

I've changed the $100 pledge reward! Go take a look!

I'm running a Kickstarter project to fund the professional editing, proofreading, and cover artwork for my gritty fantasy romance, Disciple, Part I: For Want of a Piglet. There will be six parts in total, published over the course of the next few years.

I'm offering e-books, paperbacks, promotional bookmarks, and more at various pledge levels (ranging from $1 - $100). Check out the project page for my book trailer, budget, and production schedule.

Kickstarter.com is a fundraising platform for all sorts of creative projects. Artists post a profile of their project and offer rewards in exchange for pledged money. The pledges are not collected unless the artist's funding goal is reached within a set period of time. If the goal is reached, the artist receives the money, carries out the project and distributes the rewards promised. It's a fascinating site and easy to lose time in!


PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

The hassle I've had to deal with twice this year is rewriting a sequel. The problem is both of these are second in the series and I've already written the third part--or actually one series has 8 books and the other 4. So the hassle is trying to create essentially a new second book while making sure I keep the same main events that connect to the other books down the line. It's a real chore to make sure I stay within the boundaries.

Liz said...

Move a major scene? No. Rework a major scene. Way, way too frequently. Good things to remember.

Stephen Tremp said...

I have moved major scenes around because that's the way my story naturally unfolded as I wrote it. And love the Dexter pic. It was worth stopping by today just for that!

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