Friday, September 23, 2011

Chapter Anatomy: Action

scene sequel breakdown

So here we are at the end of the scene/sequel breakdown. Action. Your main character came to a decision after a bit of quandary that followed an instant reaction based on emotion. Now it’s time for the action.

Between your decision and action, your next goal should be clearly stated. That said, once your action is finished, you should somehow restate your goal in the next goal/desire area.

Okay, so here’s my example. In this you’ll see the last bit of decision, the following action, and the goal to the next scene sequence.

My heart drummed erratically against my ribcage and my mouth went dry. I didn’t have a choice but to go alone. Common sense screamed not to, but not going at all wasn’t even an option. I lurched from the couch, stuffing my cell into the back pocket of my jeans.

The drive into the city gave me plenty of time to mull over my first and last visit to Cian’s club. Jon talked me into going with him after a ridiculous argument with Travis sent me on a vindictive rampage. Everything was fine at first. I was having a good time, and despite the odd look of Jon’s new friends, they seemed harmless enough.

After one drink, though, I’d somehow ended up so drunk I couldn’t control the spinning of the room. Cian stood, pressed against my back, clutching my arms. I couldn’t raise a hand to stop him as he slid one cool hand up to my bare shoulder and along my neck.

My words sounded over what felt like a thick tongue. “Wh—what are—?”

“Do you love your life, lass?” he’d asked in his deep accented baritone, the words rolling together to curl around his tongue. The simple R’s a vibration in his tone. Every L a seduction in and of itself. When I nodded, he’d said, “I only wish to see how much.” A muscular arm snaked around my waist, drawing me closer, his body as cool and hard as granite, his lips at my ear. “Relax,” came the whisper in my ear, arousing, promising conquest and protection.

It was over as soon as it began. Cian returned to the couch with his girlfriend, or lover as he preferred to call her, Heidi, and the room stilled around me. Conversations continued. I stood there with fear and shock twisting me in various directions. It was over and I wasn’t sure if it happened at all until a trip to the bathroom revealed long healing cut on my neck. That and a spinning memory of a tongue stroking along the heated skin of my neck. Just once over the open wound. Once was all it took to make me violently sick right there in the sink.

A car honked behind me, bringing me back with a start to the red light long turned green. I blinked up at the sign for E. Pratt Street. Without realizing it, I’d been rubbing the spot on my neck where the mark was long gone. A shudder ran through me and my foot jerked on the accelerator. The car lurched forward, tires squealing. I cursed under my breath. I had to stay focused and get to Jon.

I parked in a garage several blocks from the club on Fleet Street and ran the distance. Each passerby ignored me because I was just another crazy loon. They’d seen it all. A blonde chick running down the street in Baltimore wearing jeans and a T-shirt was probably one of the more normal sightings.

Near the glass front doors, I ran full speed into Kyle who didn’t so much as tilt during the collision. He did, however, grab both my arms to stop me from falling back onto the concrete.

You might have noticed that running into Kyle became the conflict. Once you get the hang of this, it’s pretty seamless! And like I said in the beginning, you can have as many or as little scene/sequel setups in your chapter as it takes. But what’s also great about this, is that you probably already do this naturally. It’s all about your MRU’s—Motivation Reaction Units. We react in real life, so chances are you’re watching these scenes unfold and letting the reactions happen naturally. And writing them that way, obviously.

Going back in revisions, if you feel like taking a few extra minutes to make sure the structure is there, I highly suggest it. You’re already putting yourself through the torturous hours of line edits (if you’re serious about this, you are, anyway) so what’s another half hour or so? I mean, it took me all of two minutes to see I didn’t state the goal in this last example and figure out where to add it. So take the time. It’ll be worth it. We want our novels to be brilliant rather than just simply good.

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