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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Reading For Craft

Classic Corner

The Scene Book, by Sandra Scofield

“….but it is in a scene that you capture the hearts and imaginations of your readers.”

A few months ago I reviewed another classic book on scenes, Make a Scene by Jordan E. Rosenfeld. There seem to be more craft books written on scenes that any other specific category, at least on my personal bookshelves. And they are all well written and helpful. But recently as I looked through them for a current workshop I noticed that only one showed well-worn edges and had so many colored stickies it resembled porcupine quills.

The Scene Book addresses the required principles, but adds a depth and clarity to the practical application that bridges theory into story, whether fiction or narrative non-fiction such a memoir.

Scofield lists four basic elements as necessary for each scene.
“Every scene has event and emotion.
Every scene has a function.
Every scene has a structure.
Every scene has a pulse.”

“Some vibrancy in the story makes the scene live on the page and makes it matter to the reader.” Scofield calls this the pulse and I’ve not seen this addressed as succinctly as she does. Personally I think this is a critical element, especially in fantasy genres where we are already stretching imagination to the limits, and memoir where we are bridging personal lives with compassion and understanding. It ties it to the emotional resonance we are trying to develop.

Sometimes it will be subtle she says and other times a heavier beat, but always present. “Pulse is emotional, an attitude, a state of desire or need. Tension is built from action; it arises from pulse, must it must be created through conflict, whereas pulse is a kind of “steady state,” awaiting the trigger to escalate.”

Another strength to The Scene Book is that Scofield doesn’t stop with theory and definitions, but also extends into how-to applications through examples of novels and movies. And then gives concrete exercises for personal works in progress to find just the right fix to make scenes live beyond correct structure into living scenes.

 Share: What book has helped you most understand how to write a scene?

Read deep, marcy

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