Thursday, October 29, 2009

PFC: Week 5

I’m trying a different approach to this week’s blog post. I took notes on my netbook and figured I would share them here with anyone who’s interested. Of course, I’ve added little bits here and there for guppy flavor.

Lecture Part 1: Five key scenes in a novel

  1. First meeting – first time your reader meets the characters (not just MC, all of the secondary characters as well) – think of it like introducing someone to a family member for the first time – what things do you notice, how are the dynamics different between knowing a character and meeting them the first time?
  2. Fight/conflict scenes – must come to a head, revealing, does not have to be resolved, hurt or hinder, open new plot points – have to have at least one, can have many. Should have one in the first 1/3 of the book – shows how the MC will evolve in latter sections.
    Mini exercise: List some conflict scenes in your book
    Mini exercise: How does your character react to these types of scenes?
  3. Sensual scene – the senses, not sexual – a scene that is so full of taste smell sound touch that the person reading is in the story 100% - make the character go through all this as well – the feel of your book, will tell you where the book is if it was taken out of context – what is the pivotal thing that happens in this scene?
  4. Tender moment – where the reader gets to see the MC doing something through someone else’s eyes and doesn’t know they’re being watched. MC interacting with someone else and a third person is observing. Ah ha moment – something secret, unexpected, etc – reveals there is more to MC than we think – In first person the character does it but doesn’t think anything of it, but the reader sees the out of character moment.
  5. Resolution – the end! If a series, at least one major plot has to be resolved.

Most of this made sense to me, though I was having a little trouble on the Sensual Scene concept. Personally, I don’t see why every scene can’t touch on all the senses. As the discussion went on, I gathered that Pam was suggesting there should be at least one scene where the senses are consuming, but something major happens at the same time. Pam gave an example from a book she has published – her MC has time travelled without knowing it, and as a writer Pam used the senses to be the turning point in which her MC realized the shift had happened (at the same time establishing a great deal about the “feel” of her world). While I get the gist, I still think most scenes can (and often times need to) have this quality. But everything in moderation, balance and not overwritten, of course.

Exercise 1: Write a conflict scene

Lecture Part II: The importance of setting/atmosphere/description is as important as your characters

Main points:

  1. How do characters and atmosphere interact/relate? What is the importance of a setting? Why did you pick it? It should be significant and a different story in a different setting.
  2. As a writer you should horde information: take little tidbits from everything – i.e. TV shows on attraction, body language – how human beings interact in the real world.
  3. What’s the reason for something in the scene – can’t just be because it’s “cool” – i.e. how does weather affect the people in the scene?

After this discussion, we read a few first paragraphs from published novels and guess what genre/setting they took place in.

Exercise 2: Choose a place where most of the book takes place and/or location that will be the final scene/battle and write a scene in that setting. Try and touch on all the senses – a “sensual” type of scene.

We did more critiquing, and people who hadn’t read last week stepped up to the plate.

Oh, and If anyone was wondering, I brought in a leather pouch as my item that speaks to me about my book. Since Kelder’s power comes from the Sand, she always carries a pouch of Sand on her belt.

Fun Quote of the Class: Pam is explaining why new authors need to have closure – an ending scene – and that thier first book needs to stand alone even if you would like to write it as a series.

Classmate says: “But my book isn’t a series. It’s a two book series. That’s okay, right?”

What I love most about Pam is the fact that when someone says something like this, she simply repeats the answer she already gave to the same damn question. It cracks me up every time.

Lesson of the day: Listen when your teacher is speaking. Don’t just hear the words and take notes. LISTEN TO THE WORDS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF HER MOUTH.


Merc said...

Nice notes, thanks.

Is there a way to expand on the "tender moment" scene? The way it's described sounds like you need another POV--so for those novels that only stick with one, what is the idea behind this?

The Screaming Guppy said...

Pam did say that you should try to have a third person looking in for this scene - but someone in the class asked the same question about the single POV and/or the first person.

Pam suggested in this case you can stay in the POV of your character, but still have them perform said tender moment - just make sure that it's an "ah ha" moment for the reader, even if the main character doesn't realize it.

I'm not explaining it quite as cleanly as Pam did, but does this help?

Merc said...

Ok, yes, so it's not so much strictly about the POV (like if you only had one) but more about the type of scene it is?

The Screaming Guppy said...

That was my understanding. :)

Lady Glamis said...

I really enjoyed this, Erin! Some of these things I really need to work on and try out. I love the "tender moment" idea.

I'll bet it took great restraint to keep yourself from hitting that girl upside the head. :)