Monday, April 25, 2011

Scenes That Excel

Those of you who have read this blog for a while know that when in doubt, I create and Excel file. Currently, I’m developing one to analyze the effectiveness of scenes. My file has the following columns.

Chapter #: Start easy. Not every cell in this column has an entry because many chapters contain more than one scene.

Setting: This is a simple way to denote scenes. If the scene takes place in more than one location, I use an arrow. “living room --> garage” How many scenes happen in the same place?

Characters: I list the characters in the scene and color code them to make it easy to scan for long absences.

Tension: I score tension from x to xxxxx. (Any scene with no tension has already been deleted.) This gives me a vertical histogram of the ebb and flow of energy in the novel.

Words: Are any of the chapters very long or very short?

Purpose: What does this scene achieve in the grand scheme of the novel? I try to be honest, even when it hurts. If a scene has a weak or duplicated purpose, I use the paint can tool to highlight it.

The problems are all laid out. Time to get to work.


Natalie Aguirre said...

Wow! That's a great idea. Thanks.

Ann Finkelstein said...

Thanks, Natalie. I've found it's hard sometimes to be honest with the purpose of the scene. :-)