Scenes and sequels are the building blocks of good fiction. These exercises are designed to show the flow between the two, to help you establish a natural rhythm in your plotting.
1. Real Life, Rewritten
Did something interesting, exciting or depressing happen to you this week? Did you have an unexpected visitor? An argument with a co-worker or family member? An exchange with a teller or waiter? Jot down what you remember. Even a small incident or conversation between you and someone else will do for this exercise.
Now, free write about it for five minutes.
Then write it as if it was a scene in a novel or short story. Give it a plot, direction or a purpose it didn’t have in real life. Remember a scene must have a tension and a release. It focuses on action.
Now take a moment. Imagine you are the other person in the scene. Get into their mindset.
Write a sequel from this second viewpoint character. Remember a sequel has more emotion, introspection – an inner tension or conflict.
2. It Takes Two …
Choose a two-character scenario from the list below:
- A divorced father and a teenage prostitute
- A widow and a window cleaner
- A secretary and snake handler
- A lawyer and a stand-up comic
- A bank robber and vending machine repair man
- A hairdresser and a car mechanic
- A dentist and a drug dealer
- A ballet teacher and a politician
- A portrait painter and a hobo
Write a scene between these two characters. Focus on only one person’s viewpoint
Then write the sequel from the other character’s viewpoint.
3. A Date With Destiny
Here is a goal for a scene: Brad wants to ask Susan for a divorce over dinner tonight.
Think about the following and jot down notes: What is the conflict going to centre around? How can you create conflict? What obstacles can we throw in Brad’s way? How can we up the stakes? What are the possible physical and emotional reasons that can prevent Brad from pursuing the goal? What can stop him from getting the thing that he wants?
Look at your most compelling reasons and plot ideas and write a short scene – either from Brad or Susan’s viewpoint.
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