Scenes verses Narrative

November 25, 2012

You’re near the last days of your NaNo experience. And things are going so well you’re glad to give up just about anything to get more writing in. Your list of things to do has been whittled down to:

Write Sleep Eat Write

 And you wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s November and You are a writer!

That High will last a while once the month ends. But then you’ll think about looking things over, and settling in for some editing. It may take a month, or maybe four of them, but you’ll be coming back and re-reading your work, eventually.

Maybe you’ll find things seem a bit off – You may find yourself asking,

“Was this what I had in mind?”

Coming back to your work, in the light of a new and distant month, you may be disappointed that what you thought you saw in your mind can’t be found now on the page.

What happened? Where did all that brilliance go?  You’ll ask yourself, “I saw it. Didn’t I?”

It’s not that you’re going crazy. You did see it.

But you wrote about it in a first draft  frenzy that was mostly eager to get things down on the page. Not to make sure what was captured was done in a visual, physical, or visceral way. Thankfully, there’s a second draft and then further ones.

You may have narrated your way though NaNoWriMo, and now something else will be required to make your story come to life. This how to go about bring SCENE into your narration.

Do you write everything in narrative? 

I had ran hurriedly towards the shore and it was easy to hear Kel at my back, his panting and stumbling behind me; I must have hurt him bad. I remember having myself in his grip, and me having to go on stabbing and kicking at his strength before he had finally let me loose with a grunt that is still echoing in my mind as I am running. His breath comes to me over the sound of the waves, as I had continued to escape, in little breaks and wheezing. The knife I had protected myself with was still clutched tightly in my hand as I ran all the faster, aiming my staggering steps at the ship that waited at the dock up ahead in the dim red of the rising third Moon.

Want to re-vision it into a scene?

Look at what you may have down with  narration:

 I had ran hurriedly towards the shore and it was easy to hear Kel at my back, his panting and stumbling behind me; I must have hurt him bad. I remember having myself in his grip, and me having to go on stabbing and kicking at his strength before he had finally let me loose with a grunt that is still echoing in my mind as I am running. His breath comes to me over the sound of the waves, as I had continued to escape, in little breaks and wheezing. The knife I had protected myself with was still clutched tightly in my hand as I ran all the faster, aiming my staggering steps at the ship that waited at the dock up ahead in the dim red of the rising third Moon.

 It’s like this writer was remembering all this stuff.

the trick now will be to show it in the presence, without the narration saying what was remembered.

Had, must have, having, having to, that is, am, was – For novices, a great step to bring out the scene and tone down the narration is just an edit aimed at the removal of State-of-Being verbs like these.

Here’s how:

  1. Look for any verb.
  2. Is there a State-of-Being verb in front of it?
  3. Rewrite that line with out the had, must have, having, having to, that is, am, was  in it.
  4. Rearrange your edited lines for a smoother flow.

I had ran hurriedly towards the shore

… becomes I ran hurriedly toward the shore.

it was easy to hear Kel at my back, his panting and stumbling behind me

…becomes Kel at my back, his panting and stumbling easy to hear ….

I must have hurt him bad

…becomes  I know I hurt him bad.

We’re seeing it without the voice of the narrator in there. None of the story is changed, but the way to comes across is revised to remove that voice.

I had ran hurriedly towards the shore and it was easy to hear Kel at my back, his panting and stumbling behind me; I must have hurt him bad.

 Becomes

I ran hurriedly toward the shore, Kel behind me, his panting and stumbling easy to hear. I know I hurt him bad.

 This is one of the most common things to work on – taking out too much of the telling,
and making it into ‘happening now’ writing. Over-Narration & State-of-Being verbs into In Scene writing.

1-2-3-4. You can do it.

You’ve already written, now you just need to re-vision.

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5 Responses to “Scenes verses Narrative”

  1. daysagodiary Says:

    These are some good tips for the show-don’t-tell rule. I really need to get a better handle on some of these 😀 Nice 81k win by the way. I aspire to such greatness 😀

  2. La fille de la mer Says:

    Thank you very much. Very interesting blog. Every time NaNoWriMo sends me here, it’s always very helpful.

  3. Honey Says:

    And the worst thing is in my opinion, Vivo is so ovd!oatee!!rYru get lost for an hour, shop around for an hour, eat something for an hour and leave the place in another hour!

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