Scene Weave

So. I have the tendency to write “what happened next; what happened next” and to fill in time with scenes of… just stuff.
That’s why they call it “filler”, right?
And today I tried something new.
I got to the point in The Anatomy of Story where the author talks about “scene weave”. Now this seems to apply a whole lot more to script-writing (where you can cut between locations and points of view and overlap the sound from one scene with a completely different set of visuals – i.e.: actually weaving scenes together) than it does to novel-writing, at least from a first-person-singular-limited perspective. But it gave me something to go on. I realize this is a total no-brainer but: Don’t write what happens NEXT. Write what happens next that is relevant.
So I took my 12-month story duration, and I worked out how many ~1000-word scenes (single-events; single units of narrative) I would need “per month” to wind up with around a hundred thousand words by the end of the story.
I worked out that I would need about nine scenes per story-month, assuming they were all about a thousand words long.
They won’t all be a thousand words long.
I mean, I could be wrong about that, but chances are good that there will be a few scenes in there (“bridge scenes” that have more to do with letting the reader know that time is passing, even if they do (and they must, oy vey) move the story along as well) that will only be, like, 200-300 words. But there will be other scenes (the book launch, the awkward holiday meals, the fundraising event, the big verbal show-down at the climax) that will most likely be quite a bit longer than that. I’m hoping that it will all work out, word-count wise. As it stands, I figure that I’ll probably wind up with closer to eight thousand words per story-month than nine thousand. But that’ll still land me at ~96,000 words by the time I hit “The End”, so I’m okay with that.
As an aside, I’m thinking about word-count because… heh, no. Not because it will help me sort out things like timing and narrative arc (I’m getting to that bit… I think). I’m thinking about word-count because I want to know how many scenes I have to write in order to get something that’s “novel length” enough that, even if I cut out a big swath of it during the editing and the re-writing processes, I will still have a “novel length” manuscript by the time I’ve polished it enough to try submitting it somewhere.
This doesn’t mean that I’m trying to pad the story with filler (gods know I’ve got enough of that going on already, and this whole “follow the 22 steps” business is meant to curtail that problem) so that I can cut it out later. It just means that I want to write a book-length book, not something that runs the risk of turning out to be a novella.
So I took my nine scenes per month figure, and I made myself a chart. Three columns, and about 110 rows. The first column just lists the months. Every 10th row or so is a new month. The other two are (a) scene summaries, and (b) plot points (as per the 22 steps… sort of, but not exactly).
The chart is about 20 pages long at this point. That only translates into about 7000 words, but still. I’ve got most of the scenes mapped out and ready to start writing.
I don’t have all of them.
While writing out my “scene weave” chart, I’ve left blank spots where “something” needs to happen – often, though not always involving specific characters – in order to weave my characters closer together. I’ve made notes about those points – sometimes just “something involving Opponent 1”, sometimes more detailed than that but still hazy on the specifics.
I’ve noticed something else that happened as I laid my story out in chart form: A couple of peripheral characters have become more prominent, and a formerly significant character has taken a bit of a back seat. She’s still part of the story – I haven’t flat-out killed my Darling – but she’s no-longer front and center. (It does mean that I had to cut the chickens out of the story entirely, but I’m not actually too worried about that right now).
It’s nice to see it all laid out. I can go over it and see where the gaps are, where I need to add information, where I need to shift things around. I’ve taken events that were scheduled for November, and bumped them into February, for example, just because it suits the protagonist’s personal growth to have that particular chain of events happen later in the story.
I’m not following the 22 steps guide even close to exactly. But they are helping me a lot. 🙂



Filed under prose, writing

2 responses to “Scene Weave

  1. Pingback: Where are We? | Christina Cole Romance

  2. Pingback: Story updates | The Claire Violet Thorpe Express

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