Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fiction Writing 101: Lesson # 1

Writing Via Dwight Swain
by Molly Noble Bull

Since I don’t know the writing background of those who will be reading these lessons on fiction writing, I am starting at the very beginning. For me, that means Dwight Swain because in my opinion, his book Techniques of the Selling Writer is the best of the best. This lesson is easy, but they will get harder as we move along.
I have included three discussion questions. Please take part in these discussions (My Questions. Your Answers) by commenting on this lesson.
Molly Noble Bull

Questions and Answers

1. What is a story?

Dwight Swain, author of Techniques Of The Selling Writer, (University of Oklahoma Press) says a story is never about anything. Instead, a story is someone's reaction to what happened. A story is how someone deals with danger.

2. What is danger?

Danger in a story is change. When any given situation is altered, the results are a different situation.
At the beginning of Gone With The Wind, Scarlet had Tara, her land. She thought she also had Ashley. But her situation changed, giving her the goal of trying to get back Tara and Ashley. Events changed her situation, causing her to develop new goals.

3. Why do readers read fiction?

Readers read fiction because it creates a pleasurable state of tension and escape for them.

4. What is reader tension?

Reader tension is the desire to know, immediately, what will happen next to the characters in the story.

5. What is a hook?

A hook is a writing device designed to catch, hold, sustain or pull the reader along from sentence one to the end of the story or book.

6. Why is a beginning hook important in fiction?

When I go into a bookstore to buy a book, I read the first line on page # 1. If the first line pulls me into the story and makes me want to read more, I read the first paragraph. If I like the first paragraph, I read all of page #1, and if I read all of page #1, I buy the book.
Readers want to keep on reading books that begin with a reader hook because it keeps them interested.

1. Example (Strong hook based on an event)
For several minutes he'd been watching her, standing there on the high bridge. Suddenly, she just leaned forward and jumped off into the icy water.

2. Example (Hook based on dialogue)
"Why did you lie to me, Sally?" Tom demanded.

3. Example (Weak hook based on setting)
To the east, the sun pushed its way from behind the rocky mountain, dusting the dawn with orange paint. A chilling wind, whistling down the valley below, but it didn't seem to notice.

My Questions. Your Answers:
A. Why is example one a strong hook? What is it about it that makes you want to read more?
B. Why is example two a strong hook? What is it about it that makes you want to read more?
C. Why is example three a weak hook?

Please send your answers to these questions as a comment to this column. I will announce the names of those that got them all right next week and explain more.

7. What is a plot? .

A plot is the skeleton of a piece of fiction.

8. What is conflict?

In fiction there are always two opposing sides. The two sides war against each other, resulting in conflict for the characters in that story. In a short story, those two sides could be something as simple as Tommy’s wishes as opposed to his mother’s rules. In a novel, conflict could be described as the good guys on one side and the bad guys on the other.

9. How is conflict related to fiction goals?

Each of those opposing sides just mentioned have conflicting goals. For example, the Jones family own land, and their goal are to keep their land. The Browns want the land belonging to the Jones family, and their goal is to take the land away from the Jones family.

10. What is meant by a story’s major conflict?

In fiction, there are often many problems and conflicts, but there is only one major conflict. The major conflict is the one, big problem the two sides are really fighting over. Land was the major conflict between the two families above.

11. How should the reader be informed of the fiction goals mentioned above?

In fiction, the opposing goals of the two sides should be stated clearing in the manuscript by the main character either in the dialogue or in the narrative.

12. What is the difference between a character’s stated goal and a character’s true goal?

A stated goal is what a particular character says that he or she wants. A true goal is what a particular character really wants. The two goals may not always be the same.

Starlet’s true goal in Gone with the Wind was to keep her plantation, Tara. To Scarlet, Tara represented love and security. However, at first she said she wanted Ashley.

See you again next week.

Fiction Writing 101: Lesson # 2

Hooks, Description, Viewpoint and Synopsis
Molly Noble Bull


This lesson and future lessons include assignments, but obviously, they cannot all be graded here. On your own, complete as many of the assignments as you can, and if you would like, share one short answer each time by clicking comment. One comment per lesson, please.

Here are some examples of beginning hooks from my novels.

She’d seen him again.

(The first line from The Rogue’s Daughter by Molly Noble Bull. Zondervan 1986)

It was now or never.

(The first line from Brides and Blessings by Molly Noble Bull. Love Inspired 1999.)

I’m not one to go without a woman for long, missy.

(The first line from The Winter Pearl by Molly Noble Bull. Steeple Hill 2004 & 2007)

Death to Jews, she read. Death to all Huguenots.

(The first line of Sanctuary by Molly Noble Bull. Tsaba House September 2007)

Question: Do any or all of these beginning hooks capture your interest? If so, tell why. If no, tell why not.

Today, read settings A. and B. below. Then choose the setting you like best.

A. To the east, the sun pushed its way from behind the rocky mountain, dusting the dawn with orange paint. A chilling wind whistled down to the valley below.

B. Joe Travis peered up at the sun as it pushed its way from behind the rocky mountain, and he felt the chill of a whistling wind. Laurel would say that God was dusting the dawn with orange paint. All Joe knew was that he wanted to reach the valley below and home as soon as possible.

Point of View: called POV

Point of view (POV) merely indicates from whose mind and body the story originates at a particular time in the story. We call this person the POV character. Who is the point of view character in Setting B?

In fiction, a beginning hook is often used to capture the interest of the reader. Setting A. is an example of description, but it is not an example of a beginning hook. Dwight Swain (Techniques of the Selling Writer) would say that Setting A. is like a picture on a wall or a painting. Setting A. does not move. Therefore, it appears almost lifeless.
Setting B. is an example a picture that moves or a moving picture. Always describe moving pictures by having your characters move through your settings rather than merely observing them.


Does Setting B capture your interest? If so, is it a beginning hook? If not, how could Setting B become a beginning hook? Rewrite Setting B., turning it into a beginning hook.


Select a landscape picture from a magazine. Describe your picture in one short paragraph like I described the setting in example A.

Select a picture of a person or an animal from a magazine. Briefly, describe the person or animal you selected as you might describe a character in a novel.

Write a third short paragraph, placing your character in the landscape setting you wrote in your first paragraph.
NOTE: A character in a story setting need not be a human being. Your character could be an animal, an alien, whatever.

The Synopsis:

The synopsis of a fiction novel is a short overview of the entire book that tells what the story is about, a little about the characters and a little about the plot. A synopsis should always be written in the third person, present. Below is an example of a fairy tale—first written in the third person past and then in the third person present.

Third Person Past:
Poor and orphaned Cinderella thought she was in heaven when her fairy godmother arrived and provided her with a new gown, a coach and footmen so she could attend the ball at the king’s palace and meet the prince, but her joy soon turned to embarrassment when at midnight her dress turned to rags and her coach and footmen disappeared.

Third Person Present:
Poor and orphaned Cinderella thinks she is in heaven when her fairy godmother arrives and provides her with a new gown, a coach and footmen so she can attend the ball at the king’s palace and meet the prince, but her joy soon turns to embarrassment when at midnight her dress turns to rags and her coach and footmen disappear.
Write the plot of a fairy tale or favorite story in one paragraph as I did, using the third person past.
Write the paragraph again, using the third person present.
# # #

Two of my two long Christian historical novels are listed below—Sanctuary and The Winter Pearl. If you click on each of them, you can read about Sanctuary and The Winter Pearl, read free excerpts from these novels, read my bio and click to read discussions questions.



The Winter Pearl


That’s all for today. See you next Wednesday.
Molly Noble Bull

Fiction Writer 101: Lesson # 3

by Molly Noble Bull


(Part of this lesson came from Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain.)


Q: What is narrative writing? Also called narration?
A: Narrative writing is telling more than showing.
Example: [Once upon a time there were three little pigs.]

A: A scene is that part of a chapter, book or story that takes place as it happens, second by second, and gives the reader the feeling of actually being there. While narrative writing “tells,” a scene must “show.”
One way a scene shows rather than tells is by the use of dialogue. Example of dialogue:
[Three small pigs sat huddled together under a bridge, shivering and squealing from the rain and cold.
“I don’t know about you guys,” the first one said. “But I’m building me a house. I’ve had enough of being cold all the time.”
“What will you build it out of?” the second pig asked.
“Sticks. What else?”]

Dialogue is always enclosed in quotation marks.
How are you would like this when written in dialogue.
“How are you?”
How are you, he asked, would look like this.
“How are you?” he asked.
I am fine, she replied—would look like this.
“I am fine,” she replied.

A: Goal

A: A sequel or a transition should follow a scene.

A: A sequel comes immediately after a scene, giving the main character the opportunity to reflect on what just happened in the story. A sequel also proves the reader with the opportunity to rest before going on to another scene.

A: Reaction

A: There are no strict answers, but I think a well-developed scene for an adult novel should contain from three to five typed, double-spaced pages. Scenes written for children and young people are shorter.

A: It depends on the type of book, but about three or less is about average.

A: A scene should begin with a hook to capture reader interest. It should also begin with a setting to let the reader know where the action is taking place.
First settings should be fairly detailed whether introducing the reader to a new story or a new scene or the main character. After a particular setting has been well established, transitional phrases like the ones mentioned below can be substituted for more detailed settings. The purpose for both settings and transitions are to inform the reader as to where the action is taking place and to move the action to another location.

Q: Name some transitional phrases.
A: Three hours later---
When they arrived at ---
At the fair grounds, --
One year later ---

A: You will know you are reading or writing a scene if it contains a second by second account of an event and contains all three elements all scenes must have.
and ends in DISASTER for the main character.

ASSIGNMENT: Buy some index cards and a black marker. Prepare to write information on those cards and tack that information above your keyboard. It will really help.
What to write on the cards.

CARD ONE: Elements of a Scene

CARD TWO: Elements of a Sequel

Not all scenes contain dialogue. We will discuss that in future lessons. We will also talk more about the elements of a scene and the elements of a sequel.

Below is a scene from my newest novel, Sanctuary. Who is the point of view character in this scene?
This scene begins with a goal for the main character, contains conflict and ends in disaster for the main character.
Tell in one sentence what the goal of this scene is. In your second sentence, describe the conflict in the scene. Finally, write a third sentences and tell how the scene ended in disaster for the main character. Then click comment and post your answers.


First in the Faith of our Fathers series

Molly Noble Bull

Chapter One

Benoit, France

“You do as you wish, Louis,” Pierre Dupre said to his brother. “But after the long walk from Paris, I want to stop and rest before going home. Mama and Henri will want to hear all about our journey, and I would like to get some sleep before I start telling our little brother tales of our adventures.”
“Could it be that my big brother is tired?” Louis asked with a twinkle in his eye.
“Yes.” Pierre yawned. “I admit it.” He stretched his tired muscles and yawned again.
Louis threw back his head and laughed. “Sleep if you want. I intend to pay Rachel’s parents a visit before going home. I plan to ask their permission to marry her.”
“Is it not a bit late to be making such a request? We sail in two weeks and you said you would marry Rachel aboard ship, yet you barely know her parents. They might resent the fact that you failed to step forward with your proposal sooner.”
“I will ask their forgiveness for the delay, of course. And I will also encourage them to sail to England with us. I fear Rachel will refuse to go at the last minute if we leave her mother and father behind.”
“Rachel is strong-willed and unpredictable,” Pierre said. “And she is always jumping to conclusions. However, she is also a good and faithful daughter. Were I wearing your shoes, Louis, I would have fears as well.”
They stood in front of the small stone cottage where Rachel and her parents lived. They hadn’t slept much since heading home. On the previous night, they seldom stopped to rest. Pierre doubted that Rachel’s parents would welcome his brother into their home after they discovered why he came, and he had no desire to hear her mother and father scold Louis for his tardiness.
Pierre noticed a large tree surrounded by bushes a short distance away. “I will wait for you under that tree. It will be cool and shady there.”
“As you wish.” Louis smiled. “And sleep well, brother. I will not be long.”
Pierre watched Louis walk up to the front door of the cottage and knock. He found a grassy spot under the tree. With his brown jacket as a pillow, he stretched out and went to sleep.

Pierre awoke to the rumble of horses’ hooves and men shouting. He crawled on his belly to a bushy area near the edge of the tall grass. A young captain in the king’s army kicked down the door of Rachel’s house. Soldiers swarmed inside.
He’d defended his younger brother for as long as he could remember and often fought his battles for him. But he saw at least thirty armed men and he with no weapons. Pierre wanted to hang his head in shame because he couldn’t do anything to help.
“Please, we are innocent!” he heard Louis shout out from inside the house.
Shattered, Pierre covered his mouth with his hands to keep from calling out in anger and despair.
“No!” he heard Rachel’s mother say. “Have mercy! Please!”
Tears filled the corners of his eyes as Pierre heard more shouting, screams, and then silence.
“No. No!”
“Take the trunk outside!” the captain shouted to his men.
As they dragged a trunk out the front door of the house, the captain stood on the lawn outside. Sunlight glinted on the metal buckle of his jacket. The shiny object mesmerized a shocked Pierre as the other soldiers brought out furniture, clothes, and other items.
A thin soldier came out wearing a blue dress that must have belonged to Rachel’s mother. He paraded around in it, swinging his hips and making distasteful gestures. Laughter echoed all around the soldier in the dress.
Pierre fought nausea.
The captain opened the trunk, spilling its contents on the ground. Letters and papers blew here and there. The captain picked up a candlestick. The metal caught the afternoon sun, sparkling brighter than the buckle. From a distance, Pierre couldn’t tell for sure but thought it might have been made of gold.
The expensive-looking object would hold half a dozen candles or more. He’d never seen a design quite like it.
The captain waved the candlestick in the air for all to see.
“This is a Menorah and can only belong to a Jew. It proves the people who lived in that house were Jews!”
The rest of the men gathered around the captain, looking at the candlestick. When they tried to touch it, the captain jerked it out of their reach.
“Two Huguenots from this village conspired against the government of France. We only found one. We must find the other man and the rest of the Jews and kill them.”
The captain raised the Menorah in the air as though it were a kind of battle flag. “I shall not rest until the deed is done! Now, gather up all the papers and anything else you think I might want later.”
As the soldiers began doing as they were told, the captain leaned over and picked up something from the ground. Pierre thought it looked about the size and shape of a small wooden frame. The captain pulled a white cloth from his pocket, wiped off the object, gazed at it for a long moment and tucked it inside his jacket.
“Burn this house to the ground,” the captain demanded, “as a warning to all Jews and Huguenots!”

Fiction Writing 101: Lesson # 4

Scenes and Putting Actions and Emotions in Dialogue
by Molly Noble Bull


In lesson # 3, we learned that a scene must end in disaster for the viewpoint character. But in fiction, a disaster doesn’t always mean a person died or the main character lost a fistfight. In a scene, a disaster simply means that the viewpoint character didn’t reach his or her goal for that scene.
Let us say that the teenage viewpoint character has a date with the cutest boy in school, and her goal in chapter one is to catch the bus on the corner and meet the hero at the football game. But she misses the last bus out. (Disaster)
More about scenes will appear in future chapters.

A couple of lessons ago, we learned that narration or narrative writing tells, like “Once upon a time there were three little pigs.” We also learned that dialogue shows and that a scene was that part of a chapter, book or story that takes place as it happened, second by second.
Scenes give the reader the feeling of actually being there.
Scenes can also describe emotions like being happy.

“She was happy” is telling, and good writers don’t tell they show.

“She smiled” is showing, and good writers show their characters saying something or doing something.

Not all dialogues contain the words “he said” or “she said.” There is something better.
Good writers often substitute a sentence that contains action for “he said” or “she said.”


“I’ll get it,” he said. (Okay)

“I’ll get it.” He raced to the door and opened it. (Better)

“I don’t understand,” she said. (Okay)

She shook her head. “I don’t understand.” (Better)

Here are some sentences that tell. Think of action words that show those same emotions and actions and write them in your sentences.

I will do the first two to get you started. Then you do the rest. Replace every “was” sentence or phrase with a sentence that contains action words, and remember, there can be many possible answers. I would like for you to get in the habit of actually acting out these emotion as if you were a character in a play or movie before writing them down on paper.

After hearing the news, he was sad. (telling)

He dropped his head, frowned and his shoulders slumped. (showing)

She nodded. (showing the word yes instead of saying it)

Show a character doing these things by their actions.

Write a non-verbal “no” that shows.
Answer: She shook her head.

He was thirsty.
(He was thirsty is telling. But when you describe him being thirsty by his actions, that’s showing. Describe him being thirsty. Then do the same thing with the rest of the examples below. )

Roger was disappointed.

Susan was also disappointed.

Nancy was hungry.

Judy was sick to her stomach.

Bob had a headache.

Mary was tired.

Jim was nervous.

Alice went inside.

Roger’s tooth hurt.

Susan’s arm itched.

George’s joke was very funny.

Lucy was very unhappy.

Jason liked to ride his horse.

He hated to do homework.

Sally liked to help mom in the kitchen.

Brenda was frightened of Pete’s dog.

Using as many of the telling sentences above as you like, write short dialogues. You will need at least three lines of dialogue and one action sentence for each. Below are two examples. Number your examples as I did below. Post no more than one of your answers below, and I will comment on it.

Example 1:

“I’m sorry, Roger,” the teacher said. “You failed the math test.”

“May I take it again, ma’am? You let me the last time.”

“No. You can’t. I have to turn in my semester grades in thirty minutes.”

He dropped his head, frowned and his shoulders slumped.

Example 2:

“Are you packed and ready to go camping, Susan?” her mother asked.

Susan glanced at the floor. “Yes, ma’am.”

“Well, you don’t look very excited about the trip. Is something wrong?”

She nodded. “My friend Mary has the chicken pox, and I just found a spot under my bangs.”

See you next time.
Molly Noble Bull

Fiction Writing 101: Lesson # 5

Fiction Writing 101: Lesson #5

Scenes and How to Find Them In Novels

by Molly Noble Bull

Whether a scene contains dialogue or is a pure action scene where nobody talks, a scene must contain the three elements listed below to be a scene at all. If a paragraph or a group of paragraphs does not contain the three elements, it is not a scene but what we call an incident. To be able to identify a scene when you see one, you must first know the three elements that all scenes must have.

Review: What are the elements of a scene?


Goals Defined:
A scene goal is whatever the main character in that scene wants to have or to accomplish. Dwight Swain says that well thought-out goals are something physical that you can take a picture of with a camera.
For example, you can take a picture of a plate with Mexican food on it. But you can’t take a picture of being hungry. So, the character goal in this scene must include the main character’s desire for Mom’s Mexican food.

A goal like that might be written this way.

Jim could practically smell as well as taste tacos, Spanish rice and refried beans as he hurried down the concrete steps of the school building. Today was Tuesday, and Mom always cooked Mexican food on Tuesday night.

From this, we can conclude that Jim’s goal is a plate of Mexican food for supper.

Other Examples :

A goal for one character in a scene might be to reach home safely during a thunderstorm.

The goal in another scene might be to steal a cookie from a cookie jar.

The goal of a young girl might be to become a cheerleader.

For a boy, a goal might be to make the football team or win first place at the science fair.

Conflict Defined:
In a novel, conflict is the element that keeps the main character from reaching his or her goal, and this element can be a person, an animal, an object or a situation.

Here is an example of a story conflict:

Goal: Jim could practically smell as well as taste tacos, Spanish rice and refried beans as he hurried down the concrete steps of the school building. Today was Tuesday, and Mom always cooked Mexican food on Tuesday night.

Conflict: But when he arrived home, he saw his mother in the car and driving away. She didn’t even see him.

From this narrative, you can see that Jim might not reach his goal of a Mexican supper because there is a conflict. Mom is driving away instead of in the kitchen cooking Mexican food.

Disaster Defined:

In a scene, the disaster proves that the main character was unable to resolve the conflict and was therefore unable to reach his or her scene goal, and to be a scene at all, every scene must end in disaster for the main character. However, not all scene disasters include a death, a hurricane or the bad guys killing the good guys. A disaster for the main character would merely mean that he or she didn’t reach his or her scene goal.

Example of a scene outline:

Goal: Mexican food for supper
Jim could practically smell as well as taste tacos, Spanish rice and refried beans as he hurried down the concrete steps of the school building. Today was Tuesday, and Mom always cooked Mexican food on Tuesday night.

Conflict: Mom is driving away
But when he arrived home, he saw his mother in the car and driving away. She didn’t even see him.
Maybe she forgot some of the fixings and went to the store to buy them, he thought.
Jim went into the house and headed straight for the kitchen, hoping to smell spicy food cooking.

Disaster: He will be eating tuna fish for supper
Instead, he found a note from his mom on the cabinet and propped up against the sugar bowl. The note stated that Mom had a school board meeting that night and that she’d almost forgotten about it. She left milk and a tune salad sandwich in the refrigerator for Jim’s supper.

Jim didn’t reach his goal of a Mexican supper; so for him, this was a disaster.

What I wrote above was incomplete. It was a scene outline. The finished produce might include what happened on the school steps and what happened on his way home from school. It could include dialogues.

“Hey Jim,” his friend Monty called. “Want to go over to my house and throw a few? I got a new football for my birthday, and I’ve been wanting to try it out.”
“Thanks. But I gotta get home. We’re having Mexican food tonight.”

Homework: Write one sentence for each as I did above—scene, conflict, disaster. Using your three sentences as an outline, write a scene or a short story that contains all three elements.

Molly Noble Bull

Fiction 101: Lesson # 6

Scenes, Sequels, And Scenes Without Dialogue
by Molly Noble Bull


We learned that scenes often contain dialogue. But not all scenes have dialogue. Action scenes are filled with emotions and action verbs like raced, jumped, grabbed, slammed, rolled, socked, darted, nodded, danced, laughed, frowned and many more, but action scenes contain little or no dialogue. Nevertheless, they are still called scenes if they contain the three elements listed here.

Below is a scene without dialogue that came from my novel, The Winter Pearl. The novel takes place in Colorado in 1988.
The main character, Honor McCall, ran away from her abusive uncle, Lucus, after the death of her aunt. However, she is afraid Lucus will find her and force her to return to the farm.

Underline the goal of the main character in this scene and mark it in your margin. In this case, Honor has several goals. Mark all of them. Then underline the conflict which might include several sentences and mark it. Finally, underline the disaster in the scene and mark it. Study this scene well so you can write a scene without dialogue.

Honor still wore her best dress, the tan one she’d worn to the burial. When she’d wrapped her shoulders in her brown woolen shawl and pulled on her brown and yellow print bonnet, she snatched the vegetable basket from the shelf by the back door. Without another glance at Lucas, she went out.
The root cellar was to the right of the garden. If he was watching now, when his mind cleared Lucas would remember that she had turned in the opposite direction. Honor prayed he wouldn’t notice. Walking, then running, toward the wooded area behind the house, she discarded the basket as she fled.
The cool October air smelled of nuts and pinecones. The wind murmured through the bare branches of the trees, tossing the soft curls around her face. Below her bonnet, her long auburn hair blew every which way.
Honor darted a fearful glance behind her. Nothing moved. She slowed her pace, tying the ends of her knit shawl in a knot. The soft garment did little to shield her from the slicing breeze, but it was better than no covering at all.

By the time Honor reached the turn off that led into town, her breath was coming in deep gasps. She knew better than to stay on the road. If Uncle Lucas had a shred of wits about him, he would look for her there first. Besides, she couldn’t take the chance of being spotted. Travelers moved along the road all the time. Her best bet, she decided, was to follow a line of trees.
Darkness had painted the sky a grayish black by the time she arrived in Falling Rock. The bare trees looked like skeletons in the dim light of three street lamps. It was late enough that all proper folk were off the streets. The only men and women in public now would be those inside the Silver Nugget Saloon on the corner—or those standing outside that establishment. Honor skirted around and behind the saloon, making her way toward the church. Her aunt had told her that the building was kept open day and night. She would be safe there.
Honor hoped that by now Lucas would have passed out. Her best chance for escape hinged on his not coming after her until morning—and on her not being seen by anyone else. There were plenty of men around who thought like Lucas, and a young woman of barely nineteen years would be a quick target for them. Her aunt had cautioned her that such men were always out there.
As soon as she entered the church, Honor found a pew toward the middle of the chapel, and stretched out on it. Anyone who came in would not be likely to see her. She couldn’t afford to fall asleep, but it was nice to rest her bones.
A sudden growl of hunger rumbled from her belly, loud enough to be heard if a stranger stood nearby.
Sometimes scenes are separated from the paragraphs above and below them by blank spaces. This makes scenes easy to locate when reading a novel. Unfortunately, not all novels are written that way.

In Fiction, what Dwight Swain calls a sequel comes immediately after a scene.

What is the purpose of a sequel? A sequel comes immediately after a scene, giving the main character the opportunity to reflect on what just happened in the story. A sequel also provides the reader with the opportunity to rest before going on to another scene.

The elements of a sequel are ---

Reaction Defined:

The first part of a sequel takes up where the scene left off because sequels begin with the main character’s thoughts and reactions to what took place in the scene.

Dilemma Defined:

The dilemma for the main character in a sequel is deciding what to do next in order reach his or her goal, and there are often several options.

Decision Defined:

After all the options have been carefully considered, the main character makes the decision, selects one of the options and follows it.

Sequels are written in the narrative, and unlike scenes, they tell more than they show.

In fiction, all characters should be different. In this segment, you will learn how to write a proper reaction to a scene depending on the character you are writing about. You will also learn how to write a scene based on a sequel. Remember, a bold and outgoing character will act differently from a shy, frightened one.

Let us say that you just finished reading a scene where Jane breaks up with her boyfriend, Bob, after a big argument. Jane goes up to her room in a huff, leaving Bob behind. What might she be thinking as she climbs the stairs? And what would her reaction to their fight be a little later after she has had time to think about it?

Write a sequel based on the scene I just described and include the viewpoint character’s reaction to what just happened in the scene, her problem or dilemma, and her final decision as to what she will do next.

Then write a new scene that is at least three pages long that includes dialogue that is based on the information found in the sequel you just wrote about Jane.

Below are two possible scenes. Choose one of them, and write a scene that is at least three pages long based on the information below and include dialogue and action in your scene. Then write a sequel after the scene you wrote. Your sequel should be one page in length or a little less. After you have written your sequel, write another scene based on the information in your sequel, and make that scene at least three pages long as well.

Scene/Selection One:

Goal: Peggy was invited by her friend, Grace Brown, to go skiing in Colorado with the Brown family during Christmas vacation, and she very much wanted to go.
Conflict: Her mother thought Peggy should stay home to catch up on a school assignment she was behind in. Peggy cried and argued and threw a fit. She even tried to get her father to go against her mother’s decision. But Mom and then Daddy still said no.
Disaster: Peggy told the Browns that she had permission to go to Colorado when she knew she didn’t. Early on the morning they were scheduled to leave, Peggy was sneaking out of the house when her mother caught her. And what was her punishment? She was grounded for the entire Christmas holidays.

# #

Scene/Selection Two:

Goal: Roger needed money for a down payment if he hoped to go to baseball camp with his friends in the neighborhood next summer.
Conflict: But his mom refused to give him the money. Money was tight since his dad died, and they needed every penny Mom earned to support Roger and his little sister, Gale.
Roger got an after-school job sacking groceries at a grocery store and earned eighty-five dollars. On the day he planned to make his down payment, Gale fell and broke her ankle while roller-skating. And after Roger warned her to be careful, too.
Disaster: Mom needed seventy-five dollars to pay for setting Gale’s ankle, and she wouldn’t get a paycheck for another week.