I got together with Roya last night at a Starbucks on Eglington & Yonge to help her with her novel. We started by breaking down the first scene of my play, noting significant actions the characters had taken, things they said about others or themselves, figuring out objectives, analyzing the conflict, etc. It took us over an hour to break down just one scene. From there we began to sketch out the first scene of her novel.
Do novels have scenes?
Whatever the novel equivalent of a scene is (chapter?) we started with that. Different format, but same principals. Two characters. Two objectives. Conflict. Tactics. Exposition revealed through action. Turn the scene’s value from positive to negative, or visa versa. Make the characters earn everything they gain. Make the audience earn everything we learn. Don’t give anything away freely.
This was all ‘looking at the bones’ stuff. Writing is an almost schizophrenic art. A big part of it is engineering the story structure. There’s human psychology. There’s giving life to the voices in your head. Inspiration. Improvisation. Analysis. Adjustment. Sometimes I can take all these things in, and write a scene in an hour. Sometimes it takes a week.
Years ago, my Math 101 professor told our class, “The best way to learn something, is to teach it.” I’m excited to see what Roya comes up with. I enjoy getting together to talk about writing. As much as I have to share what I’ve learned, it helps me to learn the craft even further.
Today has me editing like a motherfucker. Pardon my french. The month just went and got too short on me. If I want to invoice for the 28th, I need to limit the procrastination by a few decibels.
Complicating my time crunch is the fact that I have a number of workshops to take in this week, beginning with a ‘Next Steps’ workshop tonight at the Playwrights Guild of Canada. I think there’ll be 8 of us. All like-minded folk looking for ways to take our plays into production. I’m as excited for what I may learn, as I am for the opportunity to add people to my network of contacts.
That’s enough for today. The edit suite doth beckon.