1. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    scene and sequel

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tesoro, Mar 26, 2012.

    If you employ "scenes and sequels" in the writing of your novel, are they supposed to be separated with a scene break? or do they belong to the same scene?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Scene and sequel is an abstract approach, not something to be literally written out for every event. The purpose is to make sure the writer integrates reactions and consequences with every action or occurrence.

    I'm not particularly sold on this writing approach, personally.
     
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like to analyse my chapters in retrospect using scene and sequel method. It helps me keep the continuity between different chapters as well as helps flesh out the narrative in a way the reader finds it comfortable to read.

    The way I see it, scene and sequel are two stages in what people would generally refer to as a "scene", ie. one chunk of text that deals with one event. In the scene proper, you are looking at answering three questions:
    1. What is the goal of this scene's protagonist?
    2. What is the conflict?
    3. What is a disaster?
    Disaster can be absent, but most of the time it should be present and it should be unanticipated but logical turn for the worse.

    Scene is followed by a sequel which is nothing more than:
    1. What is the character's reaction to the previous disaster?
    2. What is his dilemma (choices he is making in the process of making a decision)?
    3. What is his decision on how to proceed?

    Then you write a new scene with a new sequel and so on. Sequel can be a sentence or multiple pages, it can be absent for the time being, ie. if you want to speed up the pace or a sequel would be inapropriate (ie. the scene disaster demands a new scene straight away) then you leave the sequel for sometime later, but every scene (in which something happens to the character) should have it's sequel (in which the character reacts to what happened and decides what to do next).

    It order to keep it under control when I'm writing, once I write a chapter, I'll analyse it to see if I have all the scenes and sequels, and I number them (scene 1 and sequel 1, scene 2 and sequel 2) etc.

    In your narrative you can have incidents and happenings, events which don't really matter to the overall plot and don't have much conflict and disaster. These can interrupt any scene or sequel, and they are useful in setting the milieu or characterisation, but once you deal with them, you go back where you left off and finish the scene or sequel that you were in the middle of when they happened.
    One of the nice devices I sometimes use is to end a chapter with a scene by one protagonist, then write a chapter concerning a different protagonist and when I go back to my first protagonist, start with a sequel to the scene where I left off. That way, the plot summary is not obnoxious but rather fitting to the story, whilst gently reminding the reader of what happened before.

    It keeps things tidy and I like to work with it :)
     
  4. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks Jazzabel, that was really helpful. You're right, that last example is less obvious and somehow seem more natural, so I think it would be a good idea. :)
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    to me, employing any sort of formula like that, in the process of 'creative' writing defeats the purpose...

    i'd love to know if any of the most successful authors of any era have done or do so [other than in creating plots, that is, such as bob ludlum owned up to doing when he told me he knew his novels were 'pancake fiction' but since it worked, he made no apologies for it]
     
  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Tesoro: you're welcome :)

    @maia: this is not a formula, as I carefully explained above. I know for a fact that quite a few major publishers (and their editors) use it in the process of preparing a manuscript for publishing, but I am not in a habit of name-dropping my contacts just to give weight to my opinion. I speak from personal experience, you obviously don't seem to think that an experience is worthwhile unless one is a bestselling writer, but since none of us here are bestselling authors (well, not yet anyway), I feel that point you made is quite besides the point ;)

    If you want to know more about it, research it and try it, you might be pleasantly surprised; it's never too late to learn a new trick :D
     
  7. Aramis
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    Aramis Member

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    It sounds a good way to add consistency and structure to a novel.

    I think I will try this out.

    Thanks
     
  8. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Wow that is the perfect answer to a question I had. I wasn't exactly sure oof what I was asking but now I know the answer :) that is really good advice.
     
  9. Show
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    I have always despised this approach. Maybe it was the rigid arrogance of the writing that first introduced me to it, but it always struck me as a good way to write a boring and predictable book. Not that one should totally do the opposite of whatever it tells you. If it's principles were extracted from it's approach, I am sure they hold plenty of merit. But thinking of a story in terms of scenes and sequels seems to be, at best, unnecessary confusion.
     
  10. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just because it is planned beforehand doesnt means it Will be boring or predictable. I rather see it as the events Will make more sense to the reader.
     
  11. Show
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    Being planned beforehand isn't what would make it predictable and boring.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Scene and sequel is a bit too formulaic for my taste. I agree with the principles behind it, but the technique itself is too rigid, in my opinion.

    For once, I seem to be in complete agreement with Show. :)
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I instinctively distrust anyone who says things like "You MUST use this method! It is the ONLY WAY to write a piece of fiction that will sell! Failure to use this method will doom you to miserable failure for the REST OF YOUR LIFE!"

    Randy Ingermanson comes across a bit like this. And he promotes Scene and Sequel. He uses as his holy scriptures a book by some pulp writer named Dwight V. Swain.

    My guess is that Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, George Orwell, Vladimir Nabokov, Flannery O'Connor, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth, Margaret Atwood, Norman Mailer, and so on never even heard of Scene and Sequel. It didn't seem to hold them back at all. So I strongly doubt the necessity of Scene and Sequel, and will carry on happily writing as though I had never heard of it.
     
  14. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    i have never heard anyone Says that, either w this advice or any other, that is not why I was asking. I dont follow it strictly, i just keep it in the back of my head from time to time. Iasked because I wanted to understand how it was supposed to be used.
     
  15. Show
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    I definitely heard somebody promote it as the one and only way to successfully write a novel and he stressed how close you have to follow it, and he even took it a step further to suggest that EVERY scene and sequel has to follow a pattern to the extreme.

    I've seen this technique in use and it can get old pretty quickly.
     
  16. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    It seems to work well because it is simple and logical. We all probably use it to some extent without realizing. But as to being the only way to write, it seems to defeat the purpose of creative writing. Like an overdone, hide bound outline it can cripple a story line, closing of alternate perspectives and possibilities.

    - Darkkin
     
  17. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, as with EVERY piece of advice regarding writing you have to take it with a pinch of salt and not follow it religiously, which is what we always do so why Do you guys get so upset about this particular One? Im starting to think this hypersensibility re: these things is a Liiittle bit esagerated.
     
  18. Show
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    The bolded part is the essence of why I think the advice is poor. "To some extent" is fine. There's a lot of things that are good "to some extent." Also "without realizing it" sort of means it's okay to not worry about it. lol The concept seems to have caught on because it SOUNDS good. People were writing well long before this concept was used in yet another "how to" book.

    In theory, it's simply and logical, but I don't necessarily think it works. As I said, I tend to see when this is the template being followed, and it can often take away from the suspense. It does the very thing I think a good story is supposed to avoid - REMIND ME that I am reading a story. It stands in the way of getting me lost in a story because it insists on jumping out every minute and telling me again and again "you're reading a book." This technique might succeed in duping some readers, but to me, there's little greater turnoff than being able to identify a rigid application of "scene and sequels" in a story.

    Loosely followed, I'm sure it can help. But I think there are better ways to get the benefits of this lesson that better focuses on improving the story. Ultimately, I think it'd be better if we continued to "use this to some extent without realizing" and put the concept of "scene and sequel" out of our minds. Every time I read somebody promote this technique, they elevate it to practically divine technique. The concept seems to take some good ideas and take them to unhealthy extremes. I think my hatred of this techniques stems from the absolutism with which many so-called "experts" promote it as "intergal" and "perfect." I suppose it proves more and more that, to be a good writer, you have to know when certain advice just plain ole' stinks.

    To heck with scenes and sequels! I write better when I forget the concepts exist! :D I maintain that you will not teach somebody to write with abstract, poorly defined concepts like these.
     
  19. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure if this is what you're suggesting but I actually never promoted it like you said. I was simply asking a question to better understand the concept, and rereading the thread I don't see anyone on here who IS promoting it that way. That is why I think some of you are overreacting to something not even existing.
    And by the way I think it's true that we already do this without thinking about it, but I still think you must be able to ask a question on a topic like this without it turning into a battle of pro and against.
     
  20. Show
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    ^^^^Never said you were. But if you research it on the net, most do promote it that way. Those who came up with the idea are pretty passionate about it. And you know what they say about reactions. ;) Anyway, if somebody wants to think about this, that's their right. ;)
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Show is right. The technique is touted by its proponents as if if you don't follow it religiously, your manuscript is doomed to failure. What you see is overreaction is, in my opinion, an appropriate caution to pass along.

    Propaganda is the most virulent toxin known to man.
     
  22. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think the issue is that anybody here on these forums is promoting it that way. People like Randy Ingermanson do, though. And he holds up this book by a pulp hack nobody ever heard of, Dwight Swain, as the greatest writing guide in history, and that's where he got this scene and sequel concept. It just seems to me that Ingermanson et al are setting their sights far too low. I don't want to follow in the footsteps of Ingermanson and Swain. I want to follow Conrad, Steinbeck, Anthony Burgess and all the rest who dazzle and amaze me and who aren't just chasing their next pulp-magazine paycheck.
     
  23. Show
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    I think I must've read the same guy that minstrel has. lol
     

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