Thursday, December 23, 2010

One, Two, Three - One, Two, Three... Ssshhh!

During revision, silkscreening is one thing; constructing a scene is quite another. The complexity of my current WIP makes the process more an intricate choreography than a construction. We know that the basis of scene choreography is the Holy Quarternary of writing - goal, obstacle, action and resolution. In my particular case, many scenes in the story also have multiple plot elements in play - the rising action of a subplot, the exposition of another, the denouement of yet another. Obeying the Holy Quartenary while weaving in the plot elements is the dance. Keeping the choreography hidden is the trick. The last thing I want when enjoying The Nutcracker is to hear the choreographer "count it out" from off stage as the dancers perform. In writing, the comparable situation is sometimes described as "intrusive author's voice". In the current version of my story, I'm counting it out - rather loudly.

How do I fix that? I realized that to do so, I needed a form of notation - a mapping. So I created a mapping table in my WIP Artifacts document - in a new section between the plot and outline sections. The table maps (links) plot elements to the associated outline entries and scenes. Now, at a single glance, I can verify that every element of each plot and subplot links all the way through the outline entries to a scene. Each scene now has a "writing guide" column with all of its plot element back links. How does that help the dance? Every choreographer uses a map (or notation) of some type, so that each dancer is aware of their territory at each instant in time. In my case, "dancer" is the metaphor for a plot or subplot; and the instant in time is a scene. The "writing guide" column is the blocking for the scene. Wonder if I ought to call it that instead? Anyway, when I start to write or revise a scene, I'll know exactly what it needs to show. As long as I write to the guides, I'll be sure of the flow of the dance; and there won't be a need to count it out. No more intrusive author's voice!

Yes - I know, setting the document up with so much interlinked information takes time. It's worth it to me because when I start the manuscript revision, I'll have everything I need to give my best effort.

Happy Holidays everybody!


  1. Wow, that sounds complicated. Bet it's helpful, though, especially with a complex story.

  2. Does it? It's not really - just takes time. You're right about it being helpful. I expected to see more of what's going on, but was surprised that it helps me with pacing the story.


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