Yesterday, I pointed you toward the scene structure outline by Rebecca Cornish Talley. Today, I’m going to show you how I used the scene structure for the first chapter in my NaNo novel. I found that I really needed to know the bones of my story before I wrote out what was going to happen in the scene. If you are a “pantser” you can still use this particular formula either by a) keeping it in mind as you write, and 2) using it as a guide during editing.
My character, Sophie, is on a mission from her Grandmother to have an antique tapestry examined by an obscure expert. Most of the time the trips she goes on for her Grandmother are pretty tame and she’s okay with that. She’d rather be in her cozy cabin spinning wool or whipping up a new knitting pattern. This time, though, she finds herself in the middle of the largest Rennaissance Faire conference located in Vegas.
With that bit of background, here’s how I broke down the chapter:
Goal: To enter the conference to find the archivist.
Conflict: She cannot enter because she needs a ticket.
Disaster: She loses an argument with the ticket seller and is barred from the conference.
Reaction: Anger, surprise, frustration, irritation
Dilemma: Without a ticket, she has to sneak in, which is dishonest and goes against her moral code. But if she doesnt get the tapestry examined by the expert, her grandmother will be disappointed.
Decision: Sophie walks in with a large group and peels off after she gets through the doors.
Now what does that look like written out? Here’s a sample (and please forgive the bad writing as I have not edited it yet!):
“What do you mean I need a ticket?” I huffed loudly, trying to be heard over a) the noise of the large crowd milling around the entrance to the Grand Hall, b) the loudspeakers announcing that the Sorcery 101 workshop had moved to the Perry Como Room, and c) the slightly-disturbing mix of rock and mandolin music being piped in through hidden speakers.
The young, and perky might I add, woman behind the swagged and bedecked long table smirked at me. Her green hair hung in waves down her back and her skin sparkled, almost like a vampire. I was not sure what she was pretending to be, but her other half was leaning against the back of her chair. The additional two legs and a short, and yet once again, perky tail, looked like it would merge seamlessly with her rather scantily clad front half.
”You can not enter without a ticket. If you had purchased one online, it would have cost you only $50. But now that you are at the door, that cost has been raised to $75.” She gave her long green locks a toss and looked up at me through thick bangs that reminded me of Marilyn Monroes. If her hair had been sea-green rather than platinum blonde.
”Thats ridiculous, I retorted. Im only going to go in for an hour, maybe even less if I can hurry the antique dealer along. Besides, $75 is highway robbery.” Of course, having only $20 to my name for a quick trip to Sin City did not help even if I was desperate to get in to see the antiques dealer and get out again.
At this point, I’ve answered the first two parts of the scene structure, goal and conflict. If you are interested, I’ll post the rest of the chapter over at my NaNo blog so you can read the rest.
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