Today I’m thinking about what happens in scenes.
A few days ago I was writing a loose outline. It’s a story I’ve been putting together that’s not near ready for actually being written, but I was just writing down the general thinks I knew happened or needed to happen in the best kind of order I could work out.
Kettle and I have been very into studying 3-Act structure in the last few months, something I’ll want to talk about some time, I’m sure, but for this story it is sufficient to say that having a sense of that structure was helping me put those things in order and to know what was needed at what points.
Sorry, this is vague. Ok, so part of it was that my Act 1 Climax needed to be the “Gateway” into the story world. I’m not up to explaining all that today but I’m sure you can Google for it. I knew something I could make happen that would but my h/h together and make them work together and push them forward into the story. But then, looking at the outline and having it labelled as a climax it was just like–wow, that meeting in which once character lays down the law for the other two–oh so Climactic!
Despite the fact that I am sometimes capable of some witty banter and rather charming sarcasm, 3 people sitting in a meeting is not the most super-interesting way to go there. So I started thinking of ways to make it more interesting, to move the characters around. I ended up introducing conflict into the scene by involving another character, starting a confrontation, bringing that authority figure in to break up the fight and thereby motivating her to lay down the law that affects my h/h. Maybe not the best yet, but better.
And then the next day, Kettle’s trying to answer some questions I gave her in an attempt to help her flesh out her current Act 2. There’s been a push and pull between her h/h. They’re drawn to each other by internal stuff, external forces are forcing them together while other external forces make getting together impossible, and one of them in just super-conflicted inside and out. And then there’s this love scene. So I’m all: what makes you guys throw caution to the wind at this point and just go for it? Because that’s the kind of thing that’s important to me.
So Kettle tells me that she’s not sure what exactly happens but she thinks there’s a conversation that’s not exactly a DTR (define the relationship) talk, but important things come out that make the characters feel this and that (more detail in our actual discussion than that, of course).
So I tell her that when she precedes first love scene with these DTR talks (and it doesn’t matter to me whether or not they definitely define it, it’s still in the DTR genre for me), it always makes me think of that scene from Jerry Maguire…You know when they’re going to be friends and have their “Friends Hats” on? And Rod’s all like why are you with Dorothy? And Jerry tells him and Rod starts snickering (and I won’t get this word for word, sorry)
Rod: That’s the reason?
Rod: [snickering harder] That’s a reason!
Rod: It’s not sexy!
That’s what I think of the conversations–not sexy. So we’ll work on that.
Then last night I’m reading Dixon’s GMC (more on that later) and she starts talking about coincidences. Not the coincidence of Kettle popping up on chat just as I wrote that to ask me if I started reading GMC yet (creepy?), but the kinds of coincidences that happen in books when two characters just happen to run into each other because the author needs them to have an exchange of information and/or–God Save Me- because the author thinks it would be cute. Kettle lives in this fluffyverse a lot and I think comes up with these things just so I’ll have something to aim at.
Now I haven’t, in the past, seen this as a problem of lack of motivation. My question is always: What does this have to do with the story? Is there any way you could get the same points across and still work on the story? Because that’s one of those things that doesn’t work for me when I’m reading, those scenes in which nothing’s going on.
Naturally, I made the Kettle connection first. Because that’s my job.
Hello, Kettle? This is Pot. Yeah, you’re all black, honey.
Hey, but guess what? It didn’t take me too long this time to work my way around to remembering how I had to mess around with that Act 1 because it’s exactly the way I think too: in terms of conversations.
Do I really want to read a story that’s a series of conversations? Well, if it’s by Jane Austen, yeah, but I don’t have that kind of talent and I’m not working that kind of story.
Kettle and I need to be better about asking ourselves: yeah, but what happens?
That’s my realization for the day.