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How Discovering Scene and Sequel Changed the Way I Write Forever: Part Two

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Contributing author: T.K. Millin

 

In Part One, we explored how the three elements of a scene: goal, conflict and disaster, plays a part in conveying plot. In Part Two, we’ll explore its counterpart, sequel, and how it plays a role in conveying story.

 

A sequel acts as a transition, or a bridge, between scenes. Better yet, think in terms of how movies literally use a visual scene of “crossing over a bridge” to show a transition between scenes. In literature, it’s a technique used to show your readers what your character is thinking and feeling about what happened in the preceding scene. Sequels also are a great way to provide backstory, convey logic and to convince readers your story is believable.

 

Let’s explore:

 

The main purpose of a sequel is to bring meaning to the previous scene through its four elements: emotion, thought, decision and action. And just like a scene, it’s important they’re written in this exact order. Let’s find out why.

 

THE ELEMENTS OF SEQUEL

 

Emotion is the reaction your protagonist (or character) has to the end of the previous scene, which if written using the method of scene and sequel it would have been a disaster.

 

Thought allows your reader to understand why they feel the way they do.

 

Decision is how your character responds to their feelings.

 

Action is the outcome of their emotional struggle.

 

Let’s examine how each of these elements helps to bring meaning to the Practice Scene #Two we explored in Part One:

 

I reached for the unique desert flower and plucked its sweet aroma {goal}, ignoring the buzzing bee {conflict}. The burning sensation from his angry stinger reminded me I left my epinephrine injector on the bathroom vanity {disaster}. In an instant, the touch of Emma’s caress and the innocence of little Billy’s baby-blue eyes flashed before me {emotion}. If only I had listened to Emma when she said we needed life insurance after Billy was born {thought}. Frantically taking in my surroundings, I heard the roar of an engine in the distance and decided today was not a good day to die {decision}. Throwing my backpack across my shoulder, I shoved the desert flower in my pocket; after all, I was searching for the perfect anniversary gift, and raced toward the fading echoes with all my might {action}  

 

Notice that by utilizing the elements of sequel after the scene we were able to add emotional depth {story} and backstory all at the same time!

 

Scenes should often times be exciting and full of action, while sequels should tend to slow it down and provide an opportunity for reaction. In other words, if your story seems to be unbelievable, build up your sequels to make it credible. If it seems to be slow, increase the conflict by building up your scenes; thus, bringing balance to plot and story. 

 

I was so amazed once I learned this technique; I now keep a flash card directly in front of my writing zone, which looks exactly like this:

 

Scene                         Sequel

  Goal                           Emotion

 Conflict                       Thought

 Disaster                       Decision

                                 Action

 

It helps me to keep the balance of plot and story in mind as I write. And on those rare occasions when I suffer from lack of attention, due to the touch of a furry paw or a bird sharing his outward expression of joy outside my studio window, it helps to keep me thinking forward and what my characters are going through. Give it a try. You just might be amazed!

 

Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!

 

T.K. Millin

 

I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comment section below!

  

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