Tuesday, June 14, 2011

So, You're Stuck at a Scene, Eh?

Courtesy of glitter-graphics.com

Hi, folks! Well, I survived the NOLA STARs Summer Workshop, and let me tell you: It was a joyride. More than that, I met so many people, so many writers eager to get their craft on, to connect and learn and... just... wow. All I can say is that I desperately hope we do it again next summer, because I can't imagine how many people missed out and need a take-two. I need those quite a bit myself.

Today I'm going to share with you an exercise Debra Dixon taught us for when you're stuck in a scene, don't know how in heaven's name you're gonna get moving again. She attributes this particular piece of genius (believe me, it is... there was a lot of ooh'ing and ahh'ing going on in the conference room) to a man by the name of Les Edgerton, who wrote the book Finding Your Voice.

The idea is to interview your character. So, let's get started, shall we? Remember, now: You are your character. Envision your present scene, and answer the questions accordingly.

1. What do you see?
2. What do you feel?
3. What do you hear?
4. What do you smell?
5. What do you taste?
6. How is the lighting?
7. What do you want?
8. What do you think?
9. What happens next?

As I'm certain you can imagine, we had a lot of gasps and wow's going on. Why? Because it really does work.

Here are my answers (I interviewed Hallie), so you can sort of get the gist of the exercise:

1. What do you see? My best friend Savannah in a hat shop.
2. What do you feel? Irritated; she thinks I'm rigid.
3. What do you hear? Carriages outside; the shopkeeper talking to her clerk
4. What do you smell? Dye, silk, lavender, wood, Savannah's perfume
5. What do you taste? Blood; biting lip to prevent an outburst
6. How is the lighting? Comfortable, dim, pleasing
7. What do you want? To experience adventure, to help Adris, to tell Savannah the truth
8. What do you think? I want to tell her; I'm going to tell her; I really like this burgundy hat
9. What happens next? I tell Savannah; I promise to show her something spectacular, if she can keep a secret and help me get rid of Henry Kinsey (who approaches from across the street), like, pronto...

Needless to say, to my great surprise I finished the chapter yesterday morning. Pleased with how it turned out, too. By the by! And speaking of Hallie & Savannah in the hat shop... here's the results for the Bee in Your Bonnet? help you guys were so sweet and generous to give me:

“Savannah, I…”
She cuts off my would-be confession prematurely. “Look, there! Why, I do believe it is Henry Kinsey!”
I gasp; follow her gaze through the spotless window. Sure enough, Henry Kinsey stands on the sidewalk opposite, a package tucked neatly beneath his arm, looking clean and crisp and fresh. As I have heard Adris refer to those whom express an embodiment for a particular demeanor, he (Henry) could be the poster-child of Gentleman’s Weekly.
Not that such a publication exists.
At least, I don’t think it does.
Oh, but it is of no consequence now, for Savannah is tugging me out the door, telling Hattie in a raised voice that she will take the cream bowler with netting and mauve trimmings, and I shall have the burgundy velvet with an ash-rose ribbon wrapped about the crown, fastened with a simple yet fashionable silver buckle.
“And put them both on my papa’s account,” she says as we exit the shop, to which Hattie responds, “But of course, my lady! And do express my thanks to his lordship for the continual business!”

Savannah's New Hat

Hallie's New Hat

Thank you for all your suggestions! Until next time...

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,



BREA said...

WOOT! Love the scene and thanks for posting it love!! I am going to try this exercise!!!

Beverly Diehl said...

Great tips, Alyssia! Fellow April A-Zer here - wasn't that a blast? who's sorry she never happened upon your blog in the heat of the month.

Good for you for doing NOLA, and signing off with Junior Mints, they're the best!

Lynda R Young said...

Fantastic exercise to get through a scene and bring it alive.

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