This week, I picked another writing book – cause I have a slight problem. With books. And writing. And buying things ; )
From Beginnings, Middles & Ends, by Nancy Kress, I’ll share the “four elements that make a first scene compelling,” along with how my novel stacks up. The four elements are: CHARACTER, CONFLICT, SPECIFICITY and CREDIBILITY.
This week: CHARACTER
CHARACTER: described by her voice, internal and external dialogue, thoughts, clothing, surroundings and her reaction to them.
In my opening scene I show CHARACTER in the following ways:
- IN HER ROOM: Piles of mismatched pillows that Lily swiped from the houses of her mom’s long list of “hook-up’s”
- IN HER SETTING: Lily’s reaction and interaction with the lake, the air, the sun and the island
- IN HER TASTES: Coffee – no sugar
- IN HER PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: her complex with her large nose, the scar, her tanned skin, dry chapped feet, long windblown hair, cut-off jeans
- IN HER DREAMS: culinary school brochures & applications
Ask the Question: What does this promise?
- Lily obviously has a problem with theft and possibly her mom’s promiscuity – how will this play into the story?
- The Setting of being on a lake and how Lily walks around in that world shows us her skills, her upbringing, her culture and lifestyle. Also may play into conflict later (with weather)
- Her tastes and family traditions surrounding coffee and all foods and cooking play a large role in the book
- Having a complex about the size of her nose makes her human, relatable. The details of her appearance and clothing pull the reader into Lily’s world – making her believable
- Lily’s goal of getting into culinary school is central in the theme of the book. When the Protagonist has a goal, the conflicts stacked up against her are that much more tense. Makes the reader Care!!
So, take the first scene of your draft and see how your CHARACTER stacks up. Share your findings with us!
Next week we’ll discuss CONFLICT
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