CloverReef

Starting Scenes Like A Boss

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Ugh. Do you ever get the feeling you're starting too many scenes the same way? Or like the scene structures feel ruttish (2 points for neologisms!) 

I'm not asking for advice. I know I just need to reconstruct and shake things up, but let's talk about your habits and tricks for keeping the rythm of your story dynamic.

(I'm on my phone so blame any typos on auto correct.)

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Sometimes I think about it in terms of a movie shot. What’s the first thing I want the reader to see, and why? Sometimes I’ll start with the environment and slowly pull in to the characters. I might do this because it’s an interesting set piece. Something odd, or helps ground the reader where they are. If I want things to get going really quick, I describe an action. Like a punch being thrown, or a moan as someone thrusts inside my hero… or perhaps she’s on top…

Then of course the close up of a character. Show an expression, kind bring up that “why they frowning?” question into the mix. Hopefully it works as a hook. Or just open with dialogue. 

I do try to change things up for myself, but like many, I can fall into patterns pretty easily.

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6 minutes ago, Sinfulwolf said:

Sometimes I think about it in terms of a movie shot. What’s the first thing I want the reader to see, and why? Sometimes I’ll start with the environment and slowly pull in to the characters. I might do this because it’s an interesting set piece. Something odd, or helps ground the reader where they are. If I want things to get going really quick, I describe an action. Like a punch being thrown, or a moan as someone thrusts inside my hero… or perhaps she’s on top…

Then of course the close up of a character. Show an expression, kind bring up that “why they frowning?” question into the mix. Hopefully it works as a hook. Or just open with dialogue. 

I do try to change things up for myself, but like many, I can fall into patterns pretty easily.

Absolutely. I tend to fall into patterns more easily when I've been in a slump for awhile. Maybe it's the wanting things to work and playing it safe that does it. 

Of the start techniques you mentioned, the action one is my favorite. If I could start every scene with action I would, but then it would lose it's impact and not be as awesome. :(

Edited by CloverReef

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Oh the action one is oh so fun. But I like my build up too much to rely on it overly much. I use the expression one too often methinks. Or, another one I use a bit two much. A couple sentences explaining what happened just before the scene started. I do this for finishing walks and such. Or, more recently to give a couple paragraphs description of a car ride through New York full of a bunch of pissed off protesters.

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Yeah can't say I've used that expression one much. I'm gonna try it. The one I've been leaning on the most in my current project is the thoughts via narration. Setting up the emotional atmosphere via exposition, And I am not a fan of exposition. So it's far from my preferred method, hence the frustration. For me it's the safe method, so it happens automatically, but it's clearly not the best option, so often gets the axe.

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That is an issue with me as well. The safe and easy method. Sometimes I need to force myself against my own grain to get doing what I want done. But yeah, give the expression one a try. I think the simplest one of that type I’ve used was:

Quote

Wincing, Kris watched the doctor slowly pull torn denim from her wounds and push it upwards to fully expose the damage.

Just a simple thing to get the scene flowing. I do use frowns far far far too often though.

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Okay, as usual, I'm late to the party...  lol.  As you're my beta, you kind of know how I write...  But…

For me, my writing is usually as a scene plays in the head.  The movie plays upstairs and the fingers type it out.  Sometime not for the better.  As for what actually occurs, that depends largely on what I want to convey in the chapter ahead (YAY 1 for kind of but not really planning ahead!!!)

Even in that opening, it's different all round.  One can be all about the atmosphere, dark or otherwise, and thus starting with a depressive news or something similar that I try to permeate the rest.  Others just the city surroundings to lay the groundwork.  (Shamelessly, I do love the beginning of CHHW...)... 

Did I just ramble?  I'm good at rambling random rambles randomly.

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@Tcr  I’ve noticed that these parties tend to happen when I’m asleep…

I hadn’t really thought about my scenes being repetitive, but given it’s the same author, likely.   I kinda treat them the same as a story, a sort of micro-plot, introduce the relevant character, usually the same one or two, and go for an early hook; usually setting it up in the first sentence.

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Yeah, I really work to start a story with a question/problem/cliffhanger so the reader wants to know what’s next. Needs to know. Chapters either start with the problem the last ended with, or if I’m feeling mean change characters for a different plot thread. I really want to hook the immediate issues in the first couple hundred words.  I’m selling curiousity or attachment to the POV to justify the time spent reading. Not always as well as I want, but it’s a work in progress. Some I remember working on more:

  • Good person being sent to life inprisonment despite saving a passel of children in the crime.
  • New mine-slave escaping night of arrival after a brutal march.
  • Meditation on the enemy interrupted by a jealous student.
  • Ghost vision of a murdered child makes lead flee from their duties despite the danger.
  • Some great tragedy is hidden by amnesia and uncovered by symbols in divination cards.
  • Exploring dark tunnels is broken by sliding down steep slope into darkness and noise will bring enemy attackers.

Some took far longer to get rolling and I wish I’d done better. (and now I am forcibly trying to resist rewriting all my start!)

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52 minutes ago, JayDee said:

In a sense -  always catch myself starting paragraphs, including for scenes, with a character name and hate myself for it. I change ‘em up when I can think of something better.

 

Oh yes, I have this problem too! Especially in dialogue and action heavy scenes, way too many paragraphs starting with names or pronouns. 

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