Dramatica "this scene represents" Dilemma
Question: I've decided to write a total of 64 scenes with 64,000 words. This is my benchmark, but I'm willing to let it grow larger or smaller as needed.
I recently found a Storyform that I am exceptionally happy with based on what I have figured out so far (primarily based on the setup, inequity, and character relationships).
My question is... based on this number of scenes, is there an order that a person could place the "this scene represents" options in.
I think all of the options confuse me. If I could put them in a default (safe) order based on 64 scenes then tweak them as necessary, I'd feel more comfortable.
I know what you probably will say... just do what you feel is right. But, for example, with the characters, I started out with Archetype and tweaked from there.
I'd like to do the same thing with the "this scene represents" option. As if I were following a linear story from beginning to end. Any help possible?
Here are some thoughts, but don't take them as definitive. There's plenty of room for you to use your own creativity.
If you look at the Plot Sequence report in the Dramatica software, you will get as close as the program gets to suggesting an order for your 64 scenes.
This report provides, for each throughline, a recommended order for the 4 signposts, and then breaks each of these signposts into a recommended sequence of 4 events (which could become 4 scenes).
So each throughline becomes a sequence of 16 events.
16 events x 4 throughlines = 64 possible scenes
However, while the report thus gives you an order of events within each throughline, only you can decide how the four throughlines will be merged together into one series.
For instance, act 1 of your story will contain the first four events of each throughline.
But you have to decide which throughline to start with. And from then on, you will tell a little of one throughline, then a little of another, etc. jumping back and forth between them in whatever order feels right until all 16 events have been written, at which point the story will move into act 2.
You will want to have a major turning point or driver at the beginning and end of each act (though often the initial driver is omitted in the beginning and told later in flashback).
Often the easiest way to work out the order of the 64 events is to write a short summary of each event on an index card. You might use a different colour card for each throughline. Number the cards (e.g. 1.3 might mean signpost 1, event 3). Then lay the
cards out on a table or stick them on a board, each throughline being a row of 16 cards. Now you can play with merging them into one sequence of 64 cards. Experiment with the order until it all feels right.
Now, what about all your other story points, character interactions, etc.? Add these to the events, again where they feel right. Some people like to repeat the 8 plot elements once per act (illustrated in different ways). Same with the thematic points for each throughline. Character arcs can be added to events the same way.
Now, does all this make the process less confusing? No. At least, not if you insist on doing the entire process and mapping every plot point, theme illustration, and interaction before you start writing. We are talking about a lot of elements here, way more than you can keep straight. Besides, it is easy to lose your passion for the story if everything is decided in advance.
For this reason, I suggest you only plot out what you need to plot in advance. Personally, I prefer to stick to the broad strokes rather than micromanage everything. You will continue to come up with creative ideas as you write anyway, so allow some room for that to happen. For instance, maybe you only want to work out the overall throughline and do the other three on the fly. Or maybe you just want to work out the signposts, and then, when writing, let your instinct tell you what events/scenes are needed to illustrate them.
Don't try to make the first draft perfect. It can be a mess. The second draft is the place where you fix all the problems.
Also, when you are writing, remember that a little bit of structure helps. It gives your imagination a challenge it can rise to. But too much structure (too many rules, requirements, elements, etc.) can overwhelm the imagination and cause it to shut down. (So can a total lack of structure.)
You want the right balance between structure and lack of structure, between planning and improvising. You'll know you've found it when you are getting a lot of pages written and feeling excited about your story.
Some final points...
* 64,000 words is a little short for a novel. You should aim for between 75,000-95,000.
* Don't try to make all scenes the same length. Variety is more interesting.
* Sometimes a single scene can have more than one event in it. And sometimes one event takes place over several scenes.
* Sometimes, a single line is enough to show an event has happened. And sometimes it takes a very long chapter to properly write one event.
Storytelling is very flexible that way.
Best of luck.