Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Scene-Sequel Roller Coaster

I'm preparing for a story meeting with a client this morning. In the process I created two slides (below) to guide our conversation. My client is not a novelist or screenwriter, but a public speaker. She's wanting to keep her audience engaged as she makes her presentations and tells her story. She's a fairly animated person, and is already engaging to listen to. But she sees the need for more structure to a long series of short talks that would benefit from following a pattern, thus helping her audience over time to see where she's going.

The basis of the slides (which I have used extensively in my workshops and in my Storycraft Training on-line series, came from studying a number of other story gurus, and so I give credit to: Dwight Swain, Randy Ingermason, Jack M. Bickham, and Thank you one and all.

Think of the SCENE as an action, external, or physical scene, and the SEQUEL as the mental, internal or psychological scene. Both screenwriters and novelists through their craft SHOW both of these, and a speaker or dramatist does the same, although the minute craft are a little different (which we will not delve into here.)

Each scene or sequel is broken into three parts of unequal lengths. 
  1. In the GOAL your protagonist will physically attempt to attain something.
  2. In the CONFLICT your protagonist will meet with people who try to stop her.
  3. In the DISASTER  your protagonist will be defeated.
  4. In EMOTIONAL REACTION your protagonist will internally respond to the defeat. 
  5. In DILEMMA THOUGHT your protagonist naturally transitions into an internal monologue about what to do next. There are various options that create the dilemma, each with a positive or negative consequence, and unfortunately the protagonist will not be able to know what the unintended consequences will be. This creates an increase in anxiety and enhanced dilemma. 
  6. In DECISION your protagonist chooses one of the options thought through in the previous step. And this launches your protagonist in to the next Scene-Sequel duplex with a goal to achieve.

The desired roller coaster effect (whether it be physical or psychological) follows the black arrows I've drawn on the diagram. The bird's-eye view of this is that the Scene is generally a downward dread, and the Sequel gives us an upward hope. And, when you string them together in a longer form composition, you end up with an endearing and engaging roller coaster, as seen in the diagram below.

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