Anatomy of a Scene: Intentions II

Anatomy of a Scene: Intentions II
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As a writer and editor, Susan is all too familiar with both sides of the publishing world. Since 2009, Susan Brooks has served on the board of directors for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, a nonprofit educational organization supporting both published and aspiring writers of commercial fiction. She holds a masters degree in publishing from George Washington University and is Editor in Chief at Literary Wanderlust, a small traditional press located in Denver,  Colorado.

Susan is an editor with many years of experience and occasionally takes on freelance projects. Recent editorial projects include The Homeplace by Kevin Wolf, and The Rampart Guards: Chronicle One in the Adventures of Jason Lex, by Wendy Terrien.

She tweets once in a while and you can follow her as @oosuzieq on Twitter.

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Intentions II

Author intention, for example, is what you, the author, intend your book to be about, how you want to present information to the reader, what genre you will write in etc. You are the one who controls all the variables with regard to your book, good, bad, or indifferent. Of course, we all hope for good, so the goal is to go into your writing project with some cognizance of the process.

With regards to your plot, an intention is a specific direction your character takes in the scene. This intention can arise either out of consequence of the last scene or out of some impending situation from the overall plot. If the impending situation is directing your character, you can consider this a plot-based intention. This means that scenes of this ilk are created and written with the specific goal of getting your character to the end of the story. Just be careful to make sure it is not too easy for your character to get to the end.

“The villain’s intention is opposition, and it is their goal to make your character fail. Period.”

Sometimes, the scene intention is situational. Your character murdered someone in the last scene and now they must deal with the consequences. Do they run? Do they turn themselves into the police? Do they ask for help to hide the body? The situation of the last scene has determined that your character must stop the main intent of getting to the end of the story (the overall story goal), in order to deal with the current situation. This particular intention is scene-specific. These are short-term character goal and intentions. These kinds of scenes also add tension to your story, because these keep your character from getting to the end.

But what if the intention of the scene is to stop your character from moving forward at all? This is the kind of intention that your villain might have. The villain’s intention is opposition, and it is their goal to make your character fail. Period. Now your character is not moving forward toward the end of the story. Neither are they dealing with repercussions of past actions. Your character is now having to stop and deal with something completely unexpected. Note that this kind of intention creates a plot twist, and complications for your character and may also create a new intention for your character temporarily as they now have to deal with the villain’s plans.

Think of these different types of intentions as you outline your story. As you think of your author intention, remember that it is your job to create a dynamic story for your reader. You will need to set your intentions for yourself, your characters, plot, villain, and know when and how to keep your character from completing their goal, and if you break these down by scene you will have an easier job of writing your novel.

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