As I work through the first draft of this urban fantasy pulp novella, I keep trying to remind myself of three things:
–The scene in Sweet Home Alabama where the heroine tells her dad she is getting married.
What do they all have in common, and why would I remind myself of them as I’m writing a high-action story?
Their scenes pull double duty: they pull the plot along and develop character at the same time.
In Sweet Home Alabama, the book, I believe the heroine tells her father about her upcoming nuptials while in his trailer. The screen writers thought it needed pop, so they had her tell Daddy during a civil war reenactment, which adds to the comedy and tells us a little bit more about Dad. When I first read about that change in one of Syd Field’s screenplay writing books, it realigned how I wrote dialogue-only scenes.
The same with movies like Lethal Weapon and Indiana Jones. The discoveries the characters make about the villains happen on the run. So does the character development. No scene is wasted.
I’m working out this lovely scene where my heroine and hero have a conversation about something that happened to her. It’s riddled with problems:
–it happened to her. I only write from Michael’s point of view. What happened to her is massively intense, and it would be amazing if I wrote it in such a way that Michael (and therefore the reader) could be there when I first bring out the zombie creatures.
–The are relaxing with a cup of tea while they talk. This can work in a novel, but I have 30,000 rapidly disappearing words I have to work around. I don’t have time for boring small talk, even if it develops character, which it has. I need to develop character and progress plot at the same time. Boring small talk has to happen on the run.
–I’m bored. If I’m. Bored, so is the reader.
If I can somehow make this scene occur during action, I might be able to make it work. 🙂 That will be tomorrow’s task.
How about you? Have you ever tried to make your scenes pull double duty?