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Thread: Scene Structure

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  1. #1
    . Castleman

    Scene Structure

    Anyone familiar with Dwight Swain's book, 'Techniques of the Selling Author'? If you are, I have a question. (I can link to the article about his scene technique unless someone already knows what he is referring to).

    He says a scene has a large-scale structure. He gives two possible choices. One is "Scene" 1. Goal 2. Conflict 3. Disaster. The other choice he has is "Sequel" 1. Reaction 2. Dilemma 3. Decision.

    The way I read it, the Scene and Sequel take place in the same chapter because if they didn't, you would end a Scene with #3 Disaster, yet you would start the next chapter with another #1 Goal.

    Did I read this correctly? I think he is saying this:

    1. Goal -what is the lead trying to accomplish
    2. Conflict-what is standing in the way of the goal
    3. Disaster-failure of lead to reach the goal
    4. Reaction-what choice does your lead make when faced with the disaster
    5. Dilemma-lead is faced with a few choices and must decide which ine to make
    6. Decision-have your lead make the choice that will be believed by the reader.

    I am under the impression that a few scenes make up a chapter so I am taking this to mean that all this should encompass a chapter. or is he saying that his "Scene" is one chapter, while his "Sequel" is the next chapter.

    Thanks for any opinions

  2. #2
    Octavia Severus

    Re: Scene Structure

    My opinion? If all one does is follow a recipe, one may not commit mistakes. That's good. But a recipe is someone else's invention, not yours.

  3. #3
    Diane Snyder-Haug

    Re: Scene Structure

    I read that book not too long ago, and thought it a bit outdated in some respects (esp. the hero/heroine part)... I think what the author was trying to get across with the Scene vs. Sequel thing is pacing in your novel. The "Scene" is the rising conflict reaching climax, and the "Sequel" is the aftermath of said conflict. I think you can have many scenes-sequels in a chapter or just one scene followed by sequel, or just one scene. If you have only one scene in the chapter you are ending with "Disaster," so you are doing the old "cliffhanger" approach, nothing wrong with that, and at that point you start the next chapter with the Sequel leading then into another Scene. The point was that a "Sequel" should always follow a "Scene". Anyway, that's how I understood it! Just my thoughts. Hope this helps.

  4. #4
    . Castleman

    Re: Scene Structure

    Thanks Diane. That helps alot. I ust didn't see in the book where he mentioned how many per chapter.

    Octavious, I may be reading you wrong, but are you implying that I am trying to "microwave" a book? What i am trying to do, as a knew writer, is learn as much about the craft as possible. Diane's answer helped out. I don't know that your's did-unless I read it wrongly.

  5. #5
    Joe Zeff

    Re: Scene Structure

    One of the first, and most important things you have to learn is how to use which homonym to use where, e.g., writing "as a new writer" instead of "knew,' as you did above, as well as in at least one other post. As long as you continue to misuse words that way, nobody here will take you completely seriously, and you've absolutely no chance of getting anything you write accepted by a traditional publisher.

  6. #6
    . Castleman

    Re: Scene Structure

    90% of my posting is done at work where I have the ability to do that and work at the same time. That said, my mind is split between work and here-so forgive me of any typose.

    That said, viewing a typo from someone who is balancing work with posting has no corelation with their ability to write.

    So, is this particular forum for established and successful writers, or is it for beginners? If no one is taken seriously b/c of a typo in a thank you to another poster, then we should all get off this post.

    If I present typos and grammatical errors in work submitted here, that is one thing, but to use that as a reason to not ask a question about a book I read, I believe, is taking oneself a little too seriously.


  7. #7

    Re: Scene Structure

    "If all one does is follow a recipe, one may not commit mistakes. That's good. But a recipe is someone else's invention, not yours."

    Say what?

  8. #8
    Lea Zalas

    Re: Scene Structure

    Leslee - what I took Octavia to mean was: It may work for that person, but if it's not your style it might not work for you.

    Also, how do you get sentences to show up in italics here?

  9. #9
    Jean Bonifacios

    Re: Scene Structure

    Put (without spaces) < i > sentence goes here [/i]

  10. #10
    Lea Zalas

    Re: Scene Structure

    Thanks, Jean.

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