For the past two weeks I’ve been saying, “I just have eight scenes left to write.” Every day I write, and every day I look over what’s left and I say, “just eight more.” What is happening here? How can it be that as I near the end of my writing, my scenes seem to split like cells, doubling and tripling even as I write.
I have a theory, and to quote Monty Python, “my theory, that I have, that is to say which is mine. is mine.”
My theory is that early on a story, a scene is often the equivalent of an event. Character A experiences an event, then Character B experiences a different event. These events or scenes build upon each other until your Characters are all playing nicely in the sandbox. But that’s when things get complicated. Now an event is made of several scenes. Perhaps your first character is building a sand castle. Then the point of view shifts and the second character sees the castle as a prison to hold his family and friends. As the point-of-view changes, so can the setting, scene, and mood.
As the climax and/or ending of your novel nears, you reach the part where the action needs momentum. Events need scenes that are short, succinct, and interwoven to build tension until the scenes reach a crescendo. Whereas earlier in the novel, a single point-of-view might be used for a several chapters, in these later events, the point-of-view shifts. The scene, setting, mood all change with each shift. Your readers should feel the roiling of your story as you slide them in and out of character’s emotions. You are still talking about one event, but each point-of-view is its own scene.
Again, to quote Monty Python, “That is my theory, it is mine, and it belongs to me, and I own it and what it is too.” And I’m guessing it’s about as good as Anne Elk’s Brontosaurus theory.
Today I can say I really have seven events left to write. How many scenes will that be? I have no idea…