Monday, February 20, 2012

Emotional Dynamics

The World’s Greatest Critique Group has been discussing how a quieter chapter can provide respite for characters and readers after an action-packed sequence. Quiet scenes must still have tension, but internal conflict affects the reader differently than physical action.

I have traced the emotional dynamics in my manuscripts in several ways (shrunken manuscript, Excel file and storyboarding), but I haven’t differentiated between excitement caused by action and tension caused internal conflict. Ruth McNally Barshaw suggested I graph the emotional impact of each scene.

Using an Excel file, I identified each event with a short phrase then rated its emotional impact. I plotted action above the x-axis and internal conflict below. Obviously some events have both physical and emotional impact, so I made an arbitrary designation and tried to be consistent. I divided my novel by events so I could assess the transitions between scenes.

Isn’t my graph lovely? (Click on it for an expanded view.)
The purpose of this type of exercise is not to confirm that the manuscript is perfect, it is to elucidate areas that need revision. The section between 61-66 seems like a good place to start.

7 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds like a great way to see it. I'm just learning Excel. I'll have to try this when I get more advanced.

Ann Finkelstein said...

Natalie: Please email me if you have specific Excel questions.

Lori said...

Ann, you have really hit on something here. This is inspiring. :-)

Kristin Lenz said...

Wow, I'm tired just thinking about doing this in Excel. Darcy Pattison would be proud of you though. :)

Ann Finkelstein said...

Lori: Thanks. I can bring my Excel file to crit group if you'd like to see it.
Kristin: This was faster and easier than drawing all the pictures for the storyboard.

Wyman Stewart said...

I'm moving to Vulcan! Humans! Most illogical! That's not emotion I'm expressing. It's...well, perfectly logical, if you graph it in Vulcan Excel.

Ann Finkelstein said...

Wyman: Live long and prosper.