Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Turning A Single Sentence Into Several Scenes

Posted by Eileen Astels

I received a critique back earlier this week and one of my wonderful critique partners pointed out that the contents of one of my sentences would be better shown with the use of several scenes, than told in that single grouping of words.

Here it is:

"He had a lot to learn with only being a Pastor for five months, but he could learn a whole lot faster without the popular dramatic intros that Emmanuel's members were prone to give."

The fact that this is one long sentence, with a repetitive factor as well, should have been enough to call my attention to it. It's not very well written, I admit. In fact, another wonderful crit partner of mine narrowed in on this mess as well, and suggested altering it to the following.

"Having been a pastor for only five months, he had a lot to learn. But he could learn a whole lot faster without the slow intros that Emmanuel’s members were prone to give."

This is a definite improvement. Yes. But I like the idea of showing this information, too. Partly because I need to add word count, but also because it provides the base for scenes with conflict, action, and even humor. By converting this information into scenes that will also move the story forward, I can accomplish several things.

1) Reveal the POV character, his emotions and conflicts more fully.
2) Provide concrete evidence of what he deals with.
3) Introduce several more important characters in an entertaining and useful way.
4) Allow the reader to draw their own conclusions about these parishioners without first being told of his own impression.

So, have you ever turned a single sentence in that first draft into a set of scenes? Will you try to now? It reminds me a little of the snowflake concept, only caught a little later than intended. I'd best get working on those scenes now.

Until next time, may your writing shine and come naturally to you!




Catherine West said...

I do this all the time. It drives me nuts when I go back over what I've written and find this kind of thing. But it's so much better when I'm done with it. Now if we could only write that brilliant manuscript the first time around...
Thanks for the post, Eileen!

Molly Noble Bull said...

It's always great to find ways to write new scenes, and your friends helped you find some of those ways. You are fortunate to have found them.

Jessica Nelson said...

Kind of. I did a synopsis class so the sentences I used for that eventually turned into a chapter or so.
Interesting post!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Cathy, I think sometimes we're too close to our own writing. It takes a new set of eyes to spot our errors, or we put it away long enough and then we can see it ourselves. No wonder writing isn't for the weak!

Molly, I praise God for my awesome crit partners every day!

Jessica, that sounds just like the snowflake method I was referring to. Isn't it fun how we S T R E T C H an idea out.

kalea_kane said...

Eileen! You have amazine crit partners! I think you definitely now have a grand way to show and grow your story. You rock, girl. :)