Friday, June 19, 2009

Self-Diagnosis: Episoditis

After all the character assessments I've done, I thought I'd assess myself. And I've got a bad case of episoditis.

What is this ailment, you ask?

As I'm concluding my read of Debra Dixon's GMC, I'm just being hit over the head with all sorts of helpful insight for my re-write. Add to that an email that came over the ACFW loop that led me to read this article here by author Suzanne Hartman and I'm really gearing up for the editing that my latest book-in-progress will need.

Dixon asserts that each scene in your book should do ONE of the following:

1) Dramatically illustrate a character's progress toward the goal or provide an experience which changes the character's goals (G)
2) Bring a character into conflict with opposing forces (C)
3) Provide a character with an experience that strengthens his motivation or changes his motivation (M)

(And yes, for all you OCD people out there, I realize that the GMC is out of order above, but that was a direct quotation from her book...so it's canon.)

After reading Suzanne's post on episodic scenes, I realized my diagnosis. But don't despair for me...

There is a cure!

Dixon said a good rule of thumb is to have THREE reasons for any given scene in your book. this means when I go crack open your WIP, eeny-meeny-mieny-mo my way to a scene, it needs to accomplish three things.

But what three things?

Well, as stated before, at least ONE of the reasons should be to further the conflict, illustrate/change a goal, or strengthen/change the motivation. PERIOD.

This is not negotiable. (Not really.)


There is a plethora of other reasons to include a scene...so many, in fact, that there can't be any kind of comprehensive list. Dixon gave a few examples:


introduce a suspect
discover clues
sexual tension
foreshadowing
reveal secrets
speed the pacing
establish trust between characters
betray trust between characters

So your crit partners should be able to point to the scene and ask, "What's the point of this scene?" If your answer is, "To increase the sexual tension," then that's NOT enough.

(Jeannie = pointing finger at self.)

So, Katie, I give you full rein to do this with absolutely every one of my episodic scenes.

(Jeannie = quivering in her shoes.)

I will cure myself of episoditis with sheer willpower and one great support network. Thanks, y'all.

Q4U: Are there any other sufferers of episoditis out there? Should we start a support group? I know a therapist...

And remember the Rule of Three when you're writing this weekend!

Wordle: signature

9 comments:

Katie said...

I gotcha covered girl! Same for me! Mind sharing the link for that article? I'd really like to read it. :)

Jeannie Campbell said...

katie - just click on "here" when i mention the article and it should take you there. :)

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Wow! So much good stuff to help with editing whether a novel, short story, etc. Thanks!

Tess said...

That is a great link...thanks so much. I agree that there needs to be a purpose for every scene but have never heard it broken down like this before. I'll give it some serious thought with my new WIP.

Jody Hedlund said...

I haven't heard it broken down like this before either! Thanks! I'll keep the three number in my mind when I start writing my next book. We probably do some of it naturally since we're trying to make each scene really count, but it's good to have a basic number too.

Jordan McCollum said...

Great timing on this for me—I've been working through my MS to make sure each scene has a goal this week. Thanks for sharing this!

(Here from Rachelle Gardner's blog party!)

Jeannie Campbell said...

glad this was new to some of you. i love reading all the new stuff everyone out there posts for me!

jordan - thanks for stopping by! :) cool website of yours, btw!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I just love that book. In fact, I should probably re-read it. :)

Bryan said...

Good advice. Now I have to go back through all my chapters and make them do one of those three things. ;)