Monday, March 21, 2011

Setting the Stage and Questions to Ask

As a writer, it's important to stay flexible. To try incorporating new techniques and tools.

With that in mind, I've already made adjustments to both my Character Chart and my Scene Breakdown Spreadsheet, which I posted about barely two weeks ago. Crazy, right?

I blame my friend Sally Bradley.

Sally and I met for a "Write Out" last Thursday night. Which, yes, as we sat in Starbucks with our laptops open, talking about villains and POVs, I was totally reminded me of that bit from Family Guy:

I was working on my SBS for my foodie WIP, and Sally said something about a book that had a similar method where you write down sensory details and bits of dialogue you have in mind. The idea is that you set the stage in your mind, but she said she grew tired of it.

So previously I told you I just had two columns in my SBS, but I now have 5:

What Happens

But instead of filling everything out for every scene right now, I've filled out "What Happens" and then if I've had thoughts about dialogue or stuff, I've written that down. The other things, the When, Where, and Senses, I'm doing as I write. I'm a bare bones writer in that first draft, so I'm interested to see if making an effort to set the stage in my mind ("This takes place a week later, at Gott's Roadhouse, where the grass is a lush green and the air smells of gourmet burgers, etc.") will make a difference.

Like Sally, I think I could get burned out on this method if I forced myself to fill out all those details right now. I'll let you know how I feel about this in another month when I should be halfish done with the first draft.

Then on Saturday, I saw Sally at a monthly writer's meeting (there were laptops this time, but no Starbucks) and we did a workshop by Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck on adding depth to characters. I walked away with new questions for my main and secondary characters and new columns for my spreadsheet. These are questions I'll probably only ask a handful of characters:

What's one word my character would use to define his/herself?
What are two reasons why?
What's a lie they believe?
What is their greatest fear?
What is their life's happiest moment?
What is their noble cause?
What is their heroic quality?
What is their "super hero" quality?

Wednesday we'll talk more about those questions and how they weave themselves into the plot. After that meeting, I came home and added about 6 more plot points to my SBS.

Hope you all had a great weekend. Make sure you get your prompt entries into me by 11:59pm tonight!


  1. I turned mine in yesterday and that was cutting it pretty close!Sounds pretty good.Sierra