HOW TO CONSTRUCT YOUR STORY
Last week you may have been confused with the talk of scenes and sequels. Frankly, the idea originated from Swain, but still, he uses terms that we are familiar with, like scenes and sequels, and redefines them; thus, he makes it all too confusing.
Here’s a brief break down. Scenes have 3 elements: a goal, a conflict, and a disaster. Your character must experience these three things in a scene. In a sequel, the character must process what just happened. Sequels also have 3 elements: a reaction, a dilemma, and a decision.
Think of the SCENE in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when Augustus Gloop falls into the chocolate river. What’s the goal? Willy Wonka wants to show them his chocolate river. What’s the conflict? Augustus disobeys Willy Wonka because of his gluttony and goes on a feasting rampage. What’s the disaster? Augustus Gloop gets stuck in the glass pipe.
The reader expects a return on this. The reader needs to know what’s going to happen next. How does this disaster get cleaned up? Or does it turn into another disaster? This is where your sequel comes in. Willy Wonka is bothered by Augustus’ insubordination, but he’s more concerned that his chocolate’s been tainted. This is the reaction. The reader gets to see what’s going on with Willy Wonka.
The dilemma is the manner in which Wonka will handle this incident. Augustus’ mother is going nutso, so Wonka has to do something. He has to get the kid out of the pipe. What does he do? He calls out the oompa loompas! These little guys sing a dark song about obese kids with unending appetites, and then they have to go rescue Augustus because the pressure in the pipe mounts and blasts him up the tube.
What does Wonka do? He decides to keep on with the tour. This is the decision. What Wonka chooses to do here is critical. He could have panicked, stopped the tour, and ran full-steam ahead looking for the boy. That would have certainly created a different Willy Wonka than the one we’ve all come to know.
These types of scene and sequel links help to keep your story progressive and engaging. I’d even suggest that without these elements, it may be necessary to revisit your scenes because they are perhaps lacking.
I hope this helps. Please feel free to comment and ask questions. Also, I’ll be continuing on with some more of Swain’s thoughts tomorrow.