Monday, September 19, 2011

Chapter Anatomy: Quandary

Happy Monday! This is the last week of my scene/sequel breakdown. New to my anatomy lessons? Start here: Scene Setting, Goal, Motivation, Conflict, Disaster, Emotion.

scene sequel breakdownToday we’re discussing quandary, or the thought process that follows the emotion, or reaction. Once your character reacts to whatever disaster you set for them, they should go through a period of rational thought. In the beginning, it can seem a little off because you’re coming off a reaction, so it’s skewed by emotion. This is okay. But in the end, rational should win out and the thought process goes as follows:

(From Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham)

Review: Self explanatory, I think, but your character reviews recent dilemmas, their overall goal, situations that led them to that point, whatever. This can be as long or as short as you make it. In a romance, the mc may spend a lot more time going back through his or her memories of his or her lover, then, say, a character from and urban fantasy where action is required a little faster.

Analysis: The analysis is where your character tries to figure out the meaning of recent events. You can use this to remind the reader of what’s important and why they should stick it out.

Planning: Once everything is analyzed, then the planning process should come naturally. What are the options? Are there any? All you’re doing is working towards the next GOAL. And we’re almost there, so plan plan plan. Lay it all out.

Simple yeah? Best part, is this area can be TELLING. Yep, that’s right. I give you permission to stop showing and tell away.

Alright, on to my example! Yay! In my urban fantasy example, Natalie’s just seen her brother’s name on the caller ID and tossed the phone away from her instinctively. So let’s see the quandary part of the sequel. . . .

I tossed my phone to the couch where it landed past my feet. It may as well have been a beacon in the dark room. I couldn’t tear my eyes from it.

Tears welled in my eyes. Despite everything, I missed my brother. The brother who could have an entire conversation with me with a single look. The brother who was twenty-five going on twelve. The brother who finished my sentences and took care of me when I was sick . . .

The cell phone lit up, bells chiming a voicemail. Guilt filled me and I buried my face in my hands. Mom and Dad would kill me for giving up on him like this. Besides, there was a nagging sensation deep in my gut over this call. If I ignored it and something happened to Jon, I’d regret it for the rest of my life.

Apparently, I didn’t need much convincing. I auto dialed my voicemail and placed the call on speaker. Jon’s voice broke the silence, coming through quiet and urgent. In the background, the muffled sounds of voices and metal music made me strain to make out his words. He was at Cian Tiernay’s dark club, Nocturne, again.

“Natalie, shit, where are you? Why aren’t you picking up? I think you were right. Listen, something is definitely going on here and I don't think they'll let me go. I need your help. Please come get me.”

The message ended abruptly and I stared at the phone with wide eyes. My limbs froze. My fingers turned ice cold around the phone. Jon was scared.

Travis would tell me to call the police, but wouldn’t that make things worse? Something told me Cian wouldn’t take kindly to that sort of visit. What if he was a mob boss or a big time drug dealer? Running for the rest of my life didn’t sound tempting. And if I was right about this, there was no way I could get any of my friends involved.

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.

And there you have it, the quandary portion of my scene/sequel breakdown. She reviewed, analyzed, and planned which leads directly into Wednesday’s post on DECISION. See you then!

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