I was surfing fellow writers' blogs the other day and came upon two I really liked. One is by Rebecca. I like that her blog is honest about the daily triumphs and miseries about being a writer. The ups and downs are shared in her blog about writing, and revising, and when we feel on top of the world and why we all do this crazy thing - writing stories. But it also shares the truths about those all too familiar rejection letters and how sometimes criticism is just too much to bear.
Then I happened upon Rachel's blog. Rachel wrote about a class she is taking and a new way of thinking called scenes and sequels and it has made me STOP and take notice of this now sixth revision of my middle grade novel. She says... think of your scenes in terms of goals, conflicts, and disasters. And I thought that this made perfect sense. Of course your story has a much broader goal, conflict and disaster. But each scene should have its own mini arc if you will. So there is a rise and fall within that crescendo of your story and it's grander rise and fall. Like the constant rolling of the waves within the constant rise and fall of the tides.
She then went on to speak about sequels - the emotion, thoughts, decisions, and actions of your characters within each scene as seen through narration, speech tags, actions tags, etc. It is these emotions, thoughts, decisions, and actions that color your canvas with layers. My favorite example of this is from an article in the Writer Magazine, Shtick it to Them, where Arthur Plotnik says this about adding those layers and using action, emotions, etc. to speak volumes for your characters. Some of his examples are....
"I love you," he said.
She blew smoke in his face, "How nice."
"I love you," he said.
She checked her cell phone, "Gotta take this."
In both these examples, it was the actions that spoke for the characters. The author did not have to say something expository like, but Susan could careless as she answered her cell phone. How dull that would have been? By using action to speak for the character, it gave the character life.
All these layers, what is unspoken in your words, the rise and fall of the arcs within the arcs, they are what breathes life into your stories. I can't stop thinking about it and am excited to use scenes and sequels in my hopefully (but I know it won't be) my final revision.
Sheri ks, ks