Monday, November 16, 2009

See. Think. Do.

Not too long ago, a friend and I discussed how to write fictional scenes. I came up with a succinct way to explain how I do it and she encouraged me to share, so here goes:

Characters see things, think things, and do things. Sounds easy, right?

Let me break it down:

See – This is where the movie plays within my mind. The imagination wanders and I begin to construct the setting. At this point, the only sense I’m using is sight. I can see the room, the way light filters through dusty eaves, and the way a person’s face shadows. Light is huge for me. Maybe because I’m obsessed with interior design, but I always have to know how things are lit.

Think – This is what I call, “The Flourish”. Here's where you get to dive into characters’ brains. In my latest project, I’m writing from the 1st person past perspective. I can really delve into why my MC wants something and how she feels about external stimuli. Now the other senses become paramount. For example, how the air smells of rain or how the wind whistles through the trees and how it reminds her of her childhood, first date, etc. She can touch things and taste things. All the while, I’m keeping in mind motivation. The same is true for the other characters, but I can only write down things from her vantage point. There’s a different balance with 3rd person POV, but living inside the head of every character crosses all POVs.

Do – Characters say things and they move around to do what they’re compelled to do. It’s pretty straightforward. A woman can pick up a sword and swing it at her cheating husband. A man can smile and fire a gun. Someone might say a snappy line while they fry in the electric chair. Sorry for the violence, but it’s more fun than listing what people eat or fiddle with. Using what you know from their thoughts, you can create their actions.

I’m sure you have your own theories. Of course, this isn’t the only method for scene construction nor does it have anything to do with developing plot. Plot is its own animal and I would strongly recommend James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure.

Also, for the record, I do not in any way feel I’m an expert. I just love going to writer blogs and learning something new or at least seeing something in a cool new light.

There are so many parts to the puzzle. I hope this post can give you one small piece. Maybe just an unimportant one from the edge.

Be sure to tell me what you think. I’d love to read your methods and learn from you.

1 comment:

  1. This is a cool post, Hilary. I've never really thought about how I put a scene together. It's good to hear how others think about it.