1. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Scenes?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Taylee91, Nov 16, 2010.

    Hi guys, back again with another question: scenes. I know they need to further an author's story by presenting some conflict, situation, etc. to the reader. But - I guess what I just need is a bit of clarification here. Can some be two pages short or so? Is that acceptable? And what situations, conflicts could an author choose to cover in them? And also - does at least one character have to be present in one? What if it's an expositional circumstance that will reveal to the reader something about the surroundings? Say the sun is going supernova, but no one is noticing it?

    I appreciate any and all comments here. Thank you :D
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have scenes that only take up a paragraph others that take a whole chapter. It depends what I am trying to achieve. For my exploding apples to have taken more than a page would have ruined it. Socrates coming out was only 800 words - shorter made it more powerful.

    If you book is junior fiction then definitely - think Hardy Boys they cover a lot in 160 pages or so.
     
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  3. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Yes, focusing on juvenile fiction will scrunch my work closer together. Shorter is better for the age group.

    Oh yeah - the Hardy Boys. Thanks Charlotte :D
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    You're thinking too much in terms of concrete rules here. (Or so the question makes it seem).

    In writing -- fiction writing, at least -- there are no rules! You are the writer, you create them!

    As long as the scene is interesting, gripping and well-written, and is relevant to a plot/subplot in some way, no one cares how long it is.

    Granted, don't skim over things that are crucial to the plot, but that's not to say that impactful moments cannot be achieved through short scenes.

    Similarly, a lengthy scene about something more detail-ish can be long or short depending on whether you use it to set a tone, characterize someone, etc.
     
  5. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    A scene is only however long it takes you to say what you need to say before dramatic presentation requires you move on and look at something else for a while. That's the only rule. There are stories out there with scenes that are one word long, I'm sure. Or 30 pages. Or any variation of any of the things you asked about. What's important is that this is done because it's the best way to tell the story.

    I write fairly long scenes, but in one of my novels I had a fair few cut-away scenes which were just 3-10 lines of short, quick dialogue, with no description. Think they are some of my favourite scenes as well. :p I would have no way of editing them except to cut them entirely, which I can't, because they're plot. :p Therefore, perfect little scenes. :D
     
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  6. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^Thank you Mal and Mel :D *scribbles down the info* Okay - I'm off now to write :D
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    btw, all of your questions could have been answered by just picking up some books and checking out the chapters... do you not have any books in your home, or a library or bookstore nearby?
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    because like google - books are unable to carry on a conversation - yes the question is answered but you can't quiz it to get the additional information you may need. When working, researching and thinking sometimes a real human being is best to get that information into your brain.
     
  9. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    I have plenty of books. The intent of this thread was merely to ask a question. That's all. I don't think asking is wrong, and even if I picked up a book, I wouldn't have gone away with all of my inquiries answered. Thus I posted the above.
     
  10. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    A scene is a short section that is important to the overall story.

    There are other definitions, but they are all aiming at specificity, and I'm not. Broadly speaking, if a scene will help to clarify, or to let ther reader know something the characters don't, or to otherwise move the the story along, that's fine.

    Scenes can be very short. A rider comes up to the army encampment, bearing a message from some other character, and the scene stops there. Maybe a page worth of description needed. As long as the readers know why the other character sent this message -- "We just lost the battle," "Your son has died from the plague," "A route has been cleared through the mountain passes," "We've been betrayed," -- you don't need to go much into the details.

    You don't need to include a character. Lucifer's Hammer, a bestseller from a couple decades ago, has several scenes that show the oncoming comet -- how it was tossed out of its home solar system millions of years ago when a planet came too close to its orbit, how it entered our own solar system.

    There were also a few brief scenes when the comet hit, showing how it affected people around the world. People on an inactive volcano, who fled in terror as the shockwave of impact re-activated the mountain's fire. Surfers who saw the tsunami coming, who went toward the ocean to escape it, and the single surfer who got caught up and rode the tidal wave more than a mile inland before he tumbled and (presumably) died. A mailman, going about his rounds in the Sierra Nevada, who got caught in the earthquake and hid in the back of his mail truck when the mountain roads started to fall down on him. (He became a recurring character, and a fascinating one. He didn't have much else to do when the world ended, so he continued to deliver the mail.)

    You can show two characters arguing, or opposing each other in some way. You can show a character being caught up in something larger, an earthquake or tornado. You can show a father and his step-daughter caught on the freeway when an EMP happens, stalling some of the cars around them and presenting serious accident hazards. Or you can show something grand and huge, a battle or a feast or a dance, a ship launching, a woman declaring her love.
     
  11. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^Thank you, HeinleinFan. Those were perfect examples. Thank you for your help :D
     
  12. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Aw, crud. Sorry for the double post; my computer glitched. :(
     
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