Friday, December 13, 2013
The craft of rewriting-Analysis-Scene
By OFW chief editor:
Carlos J Cortes And Renée Miller
Published: May 08, 2013
We discussed scenes and chapters in Section XXX. When revising, we must look at several elements to ensure our scenes are tight and that we’ve included all of the necessary elements.
Does the opening hook the reader?
We examine the first lines of each scene, as we’d examine the first page. Does the line drag the reader in? Does it make her want to continue? Is it active? If the opening lines don’t hook the reader all over again, she might set it down. We must analyze these openings on their own, without considering the lines that following. Independently, they should raise questions and interest. If they do not, we consider starting at a more active place in the scene, or rewriting the lines to provide a hook. For example:
Julie stretched and opened her eyes. The sunlight pressed into her brain. Relentless son of a bitch. Just like her husband.
This is good. The third and fourth sentences will definitely intrigue the reader, but the first two kind of weigh it down. Let’s polish it:
Relentless son of a bitch. Just like her husband. Julie stretched and cursed the sunlight that pressed into her brain.
Good: Martin slowed the car, eyeing the crowd outside his house. “Looks like they found the body.”
Killer: “Looks like they found the body.” Martin slowed the car, eyeing the crowd outside his house.
What about the closing lines? Killer as well?
The closing lines must persuade the reader to continue to the next scene. We examine these as we would the opening lines. Look at them independently of the previous text. Do they make us want to read more?
Good: “I’m leaving you.” She slammed the door.
Bob sank into the chair. He stared for a moment at the empty room, and he smiled. “Good riddance.”
Killer: “I’m leaving you.”
We would then take the last lines into the next scene, creating a killer ending and another great opening.
Sentence openings. Are they varied?
Now that we know the openings and closings will pull the reader along, we examine the structure of each scene opening. Are they varied, or do they repeat? We discuss varying our scene openings in Section XXX. If we’ve repeated openings, creating an echo, we need to rewrite so that each scene opens differently than the scene before and after.
Does the scene further the plot?
Each scene must have a purpose; it must contain conflicts or resolutions that show the reader something about the plot or the characters. If it does not do this, it has no reason to be in our novel. What does the scene do? What happens? If the scene does nothing to further the plot, we rewrite or cut. If we rewrite, we include something to further the plot or to deepen characterization.
Is the POV tight?
Check internal dialogue and search for slips in POV, which we discussed in sections XXX and XXX. Also examine whether we’ve used the right POV for the scene. If it could be shown better in another POV, then we should rewrite it in that POV.
Is there a resolution?
The conflict that we introduce in the beginning of the scene should be resolved at its ending. Throughout the scene, we build new conflict, which doesn’t have to be resolved, but the reader must find an answer of some kind by the last lines.
Renee Miller & Carlos Cortes
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