Thursday, April 08, 2010

Discussion: Choreography

I find choreography--plotting the specific movements of each character within a scene--frustrating at times. I know what I want to accomplish by the end of the scene, but figuring out how to reach that point isn't always easy. Each step has to make sense in terms of how the character would react and the overall logistics of a scene. Each individual action is like a link in a necklace, caused by the one before it and inspiring the next one. And you have to do this while keeping track of characters' motivations, the overall plot, and the setting at the same time.  In fact, I find that it often takes up most of my writing time. I'll pull out the laptop and stare at my scene, flipping back and forth between games of Spider Solitare or the Internet. Then I'll start tweaking things as my mind starts to work. Usually it starts coming together towards the end of my time, leaving me with only a few minutes to work.

I think this would be a lot easier if I had more idle time for my brain to work out choreography before sitting down to the keyboard. Sometimes I can do this, but it's become much harder as I have more overall responsibilities in my daily life to track too. So I thought for today's blog post I'd throw this topic out for discussion.

What's harder for you, plotting the overall book or each individual scene? How do you work out your scenes, in advance or at the keyboard? What matters most to you when choreographing a scene?

Please leave comments below.  I look forward to reading them!


Maria Zannini said...

That's such a good question.

My CPs tell me plotting is my forte, but until you asked the question, I never thought about what made it work.

Basically, what I do is decide where the chapter/scene should end. I almost always segue into the next chapter with a looming question or some dramatic end point.

But the end of the chapter/scene is critical for me. Knowing the end forces me to conjure the journey to make it so.

Granted, sometimes I create some pretty insurmountable goals and I scratch my head for a couple of days and ask, how the heck is my MC going to get to this point. But almost always there's a way. The trick is to make it plausible for that world and those particular characters.

Since I work from a very rudimentary outline, I know the basic goals of each chapter. It's just a matter then of making it conform to the overall arc of the story.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Thanks for your response, Maria!

I agree it does help to know your goal for your chapter or scene, and it's good end with a hook to lead the reader into the next scene. How do you feel about middles?

Maria Zannini said...

Ref: Middles

Here's what I do. Since I have an overall idea of how the novel should end, my trick is never to let up on the MCs. They always have several Fails before they get a Succeed.

For example: In Touch Of Fire, the goal is to get back a dangerous book. But I give my MCs numerous reasons for not succeeding, on top of that there is also the underlying personal arcs of the MCs that also act as monkey wrenches into why they can't succeed.

Each time they win a battle, that win results in something that will either draw them further away from the prize or each other. 3/4 of the way into the book, they get their black moment where it seems all is lost.

If I did it right, the reader should become so invested in the hero/heroine's plight that they have to keep reading to learn how they get out of their messes.

If I didn't do it right, said book will be hurled across the room, followed by a myriad of expletives. LOL!

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