Today's writing tip is a simple way to avoid "math anxiety" when it comes to reviewing scenes: Remember that your primary character has an objective in each scene. That goes for other characters who are active in the scene. Objectives change--and they may begin as reactive (as in your character reacting to something that happens) but ultimately that reaction translates into action, subtle or profound.
These are also called scene goals--each character has her own goal in each scene, and those goals are most often in conflict because we want conflict in story.
When it comes to opening
scenes, another question to ask is: What is different about this day? Why does the story begin on this day, in this moment? Story's begin when there is a disruption of the usual pattern of events. That disruption can be a yell or a whisper--it can be a dramatic external event or a subtle internal shift or recognition by the main character.
Think about writers who let their narrators say something like: I'm going to tell you about this particular spring day, of this particular year, because looking back, it seems to me that this is when everything changed and the story began...
That beginning can be an action taken and/or it can be an internal recognition/decision. This can be a quiet moment but it is strong. This is the "Aha". This is what gives the reader that "turn the page" tickle of excitement: Something is
cooking, what's going to happen next?
Labels: 90-Minute Novel, elements of craft, free writing tips, writing craft