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Readercon Riff #2

Belatedly, more on Readercon:

From my workshop on scene building and story boarding: In response to a blog or two I’ve seen on my workshop, there are some questions about using a checklist to roughly and lightly plan out a scene. Some wonder if planning scenes makes for too much work. (I’ve suggested things like deciding the dialog topic, looking for subtext for the dialog, planning some time of day, weather, setting elements and the like.) It is a little bit of work. Should you just plunge in and write what seems to “come next?”

Here is yet another occasion when you take what’s useful and chuck the rest. Of course, if you know exactly what happens next in the story, and it promises to be a wonderful scene, just sit down at the keyboard and let it rip! But if you’re not sure, then use some elements of scene building as a reminder of what makes a strong scene: conflict, right point of view, buried motives, sensual environment, climax or pay off.

Does it waste time? This effort might take just ten-fifteen minutes. How much time do we otherwise spend staring at the monitor, fingers wishing they could type something decent?

My contention is that books thrive or languish at the scene level. Writers are sometimes forwarding the plot but doing so with a scene that has no sizzle. I also believe that when we sit down in front of the computer to write a scene, our minds first latch onto a cliched or derivative scene. Then we start to type, hoping to add bling. But the elements were wrong to begin with, so the cool stuff we used in the bland scene couldn’t save it.

The following photos of my workshop at Readercon (where my own camera was tragically broken) are courtesy of Michael A. Burstein and Nomi S. Burstein. (Whose cameras worked) Thanks!

Kay doing workshop on scenes. Photo by Michael A. Burstein.

Kay at workshop. Photo by Nomi S. Burstein.


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