Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Tip: Scene Revision Tools

I've got one more scene to write from scratch before I go back through the novel for the last couple edits. One of the things I'll be taking a real close look at is scenes.

I have a hard time making good scenes. My tendency to pants my way through things means I spend a lot of time figuring out what's going on by writing it out, and that leads to a lot of scenes that are full of extra stuff, as well as scenes that just don't need to be there.

To help make sure my scenes are as tight as possible, I'm going to be using two tools.

The first (courtesy of Amy Knupp) is WITFITPOT. That stands for "what the fuck is the point of this?" Basically, that involves going through each scene and writing down at least three things that make that scene important. If I cut that scene out, what would I have to move to another scene in order for the story to move forward and make sense?

The second (courtesy of James Scott Bell) is HIP, which stands for Hook, Intensity, and Prompt. So, in addition to supplying important information or action in the story, the scene must hook the reader, the scene must have some sort of tension, and the scene must end on a prompt that will make the reader want to find out what happens next.

I'm pretty sure the scenes I have now will all pass muster, but this will allow me to boil the scene down to its essence, and then strengthen the important parts and trim the stuff that's either repetitive or unnecessary. I want this novel to be fairly fast-paced, so I want to make it compact without losing color. I want the action to keep moving without losing the vibrancy of the setting or the nuances of the character interactions.

I'm excited about trying this approach. I've never done quite this in-depth of a postmortem on one of my drafts, and I'm eager to see how it turns out.

Image: twobee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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