1. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    Advice - Short scenes in a novel (very S.H.O.R.T.)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by mikeinseattle, Mar 16, 2013.

    Hello everyone!

    First, I only post when it's something I can't find addressed elsewhere. Meaning, my research on this has come up empty.

    I usually write short stories so I'm intimidated by the idea of doing a novel. I tend to write very small bits and pieces, but I want to expand this into a novel. I am wondering if very short chapters is frowned upon.

    Anyone have an opinion? Any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance... :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    In Orson Card's, "The Pathfinder", he starts each chapter with a short piece of a parallel story. Can you find a way to insert these short pieces into a longer chapter, even if they are out of place?
     
  3. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    Hi Ginger, That's exactly what I am trying to figure out. I can't wrap my mind around how it will look on the typed screen. I will check out Card's work, thanks for the tip. :)
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A chapter can contain more than one scene.
     
  5. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    Admittedly I am new to novels. Can you tell me what it's called, or referred to, so I can go read more about it?

    (or point me to a link or something? thanks!)

    What I am confused about is how you would type up such a thing. I would like to read an example where a writer has done this.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    In Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, he has a chapter that's only 56 words, if I remember correctly. It looks like just a tiny splotch of text on a big blank page.
     
  7. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    It actually is a tiny splotch of text on a big blank page, in a big blank (when it comes to essence) book. Although i liked Brown's previous works, i wouldn't recommend using Lost Symbol as a positive reference.

    Anyway, you can just as well integrate them in a regular chapter. First thing you should remember is the principal "less is more". Is this tiny visual bit essential to your story? If it isn't there is no good reason for it to be in it. In a novel you are not painting the full picture for the readers, you are giving them a sketch. Painting the picture is their job.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    For the record, I'm not a Dan Brown fan. I read The Da Vinci Code, was kind of disgusted with the poor writing, and I've never read anything by him again. But my roommate is a fan and has all his books, and showed me this very short chapter. I'm not using Brown as a positive reference. I'm just saying his book was a bestseller, and the OP wanted an example of a very short chapter in a work he could easily find.
     
  9. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    For the purposes I refer to here: yes, it is essential. I am the furthest thing from a fluff writer. I'm a structuralist, so every line conveys a key element or I zap it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  10. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    Thanks Minstrel, I will take a look at that.
     
  11. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    Cant remember were but i know i saw it used couple of times, a short chapter hardly 2-3 sentences. Might not look nice but they did there job.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Pick up nearly any novel NOT written by James Patterson, and you will find several chapters with more than one scene.
     
  13. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    I guess I just don't know how to type up that sort of thing. The demarcations, etc.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Most scene changes only need a new paragraph, the first line of which signal the scene change. Again, pick up nearly any novel to see ways this is done.

    Sometimes, if the scene change is major, like a long passage of time, a different POV character, or a large geographical difference, the author will add a scene break mark. In manuscript, it is indicated by a line containing only a single, centered '#' character. But this is at the author's discretion, as is whether to use a new chapter in such cases instead.
     
  15. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    Thanks for that. Great advice. I love these boards!
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sounds to me like you just need to read and study successful novels... the best-written ones, if you want to be a really good writer and not just a 'popular' one... all you need to know/learn can be found there...

    i mentor both screenwriters and novelists, so if you need any quick, one-on-one help, i'm just a mouse click away...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  17. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    Thanks so much. I will!
     
  18. Phoenix Hikari
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    I think what you lack is the understanding of the word novel. I don't mean that in a bad way. You have been writing screenplays, something that is totally different from writing novels.
    I see that you are trying to turn a screenplay into a novel and that doesn't really work the way you are trying to do it. The screenplay is a different object from the novel. To write the novel of it, you need a new vision, new imagination, a different understanding of the whole plot line. You can't just turn the screenplay scene by scene into a novel. You need to understand the scene and then write it as a novel scene without any influence from the screenplay original.
    My advice is that you read your screen play only ONCE and then leave it. Now sit down and write your novel and never look at the screenplay again. of course that is after you have read around 100 other novels by good writers so you can understand and compare the tow types of writing: novel versus screenplay.

    Good luck.
     
  19. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    That's great advice. I am the first to admit my knowledge of novels is lacking. I'm mainly trying to write a straightforward story, in prose. I can't see getting fancy, esoteric; that's not my style. I appreciate your excellent input.

    :)
     
  20. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Ever read Kurt Vonnegut he's pretty much straightforward. Good read too!
     

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