And, it’s Veteran’s Day. Take a moment to thank those who have served or are serving their country.
At Author Fest, I attended a workshop presented by mystery writers Mario Acevedo and Warren Hammond on Scene and Sequel. I’ll recap the high points here. When I started writing, author Kathleen O’Brien did a workshop on scenes, and she described the ‘sequel’ scene (she was talking about romance), as being the “shower scene” where the character would replay the previous scene. With the current trend being a faster pace, there really isn’t time for an entire scene that does little more than revisit the previous one. But scene and sequel can still propel your book.
Mario and Warren introduced their workshop by telling us their “secret” about fiction. They gave me permission to share it with you. Ready?
Fiction is emotional manipulation.
From there, they touched upon the overall structure of a novel. There’s a Beginning, where we meet the characters, their world, we get the mood and tone of the book, and we see the inciting incident.
Next, not surprising, is the Middle. This is where the stakes get higher, we see the hero’s journey (although I have yet to think about this one while writing—it scares me), and then what they called the “swamp” where the hero has to slog through the challenges, and ends with the climax.
Lastly, there’s the End, with the denouement and where loose ends are wrapped up.
Throughout each of these sections are scenes, where stuff happens. Each scene must have a goal. There must be conflict. And some kind of “disaster” which may be a failure to reach the goal, or a complication. Maybe the character does attain that scene’s goal, but then more stuff happens…
And that’s your sequel. You need an emotional reaction, then a visceral response.
Give your character a dilemma. Give him options (Deb Dixon says they should be between ‘it sucks’ and ‘it’s suckier’.) Amp the tension, and make the reader worry. (Remember that secret of fiction.)
The character will have to make that decision, which should then lead to a new goal, which then triggers a new scene. Mario and Warren also pointed out that the riskier the decision, the better the hook.
They spoke of Stimulus and Response. The stimulus is external and objective, while the response is internal and subjective. Responses can be emotional, intellectual, or physical. You can use them to deepen the immersion of the reader. They can reveal character.
They also touched upon the classic “Show, don’t Tell” advice, suggesting that these two approaches can be used to manipulate the pacing. When you’re looking for emotional hooks to keep your reader turning pages, you’ll want to show.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society