Scenes and Sequels

One of the big things I got out of reading Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer is the concept of Scenes and Sequels.  A scene is a unit of action.  Within a scene you’ve got a character with a goal who encounters some kind of conflict and has an outcome.  A sequel on the other hand shows the character’s reaction to the outcome of the previous scene, which presents some kind of delimma about which the character has to make a decision.  Which leads into the next scene and so on. The way that they are described in Swain’s book, a sequel is still what most of us would think of as a scene.

The thing is, in my experience, sequels make boring scenes (in the sense that we usually think of scenes).

That’s what ended up being the problem with the one that I’ve been stalled out on all week.  I knew I had to have the hero’s reaction to finding out (in the previous scene) which pack member betrayed the alpha.  It was necessary.  But it was really boring.  Pot pointed out that unlike all the scenes preceeding it, this scene was just a sequel.  Usually I keep the sequel portion short and roll it into the next action scene to keep the pace going.

So I puzzled over what kind of action would go along with this sequel, and I remembered that they’re being watched.  Turn that into followed and have the guy disable the car in the middle of a blizzard and suddenly Marley and Conall are stumbling across the mountain on foot in a snowstorm trying to escape the wolf-shifter tracking them.  Voila.  Action.  Action that raises the stakes even.  And I am unstuck.

Well mostly.  I’m still trying to figure out what happens on this trek through the snow, but that’s a whole other issue.

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