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Help! Small scenes - advice needed

Barbara

Guardian
Benefactor
#1
Panic. I need the wisdom of my fellow Litopians:

I'm stuck on chapter 5-ish. At the moment, chapter 5 consits of several tiny scenes some of which are as short as 2 or 3 lines; others a couple of paras. They are basically just small story flashes and don't need to be long, just some quick important nuggets which push the plot onwards. All of these flashes are essential and connect; a bit like several trains that have to leave the station so that they can crash at the destination, so to speak.

To me all that feels a weird as I tend to write long scenes (I ramble on, you may have noticed).

So my question is:

Should I explore each flash scene, make them longer and elaborate? But I'm worried the plot will lose the flow, and become yawn-worthy.
Or keep them short? But keeping them short feels a little bit like rushed info dumping, and the ticking of boxes.
Or keep them short but set them all in one venue? (It most of them could happen in a coffee shop.)
Or re-look at my plot?

Any thoughts?
 

Carol Rose

Guardian
Staff member
Ambassador
#2
Hard to say without seeing it in context, but I wouldn't expand them simply for the sake of making them longer. Info dumping is usually done through exposition. If these scenes contain action and/or dialogue, they're likely not info dumping. Just be sure each scene moves the story forward, shows characterization, and gives the reader new/important information. :)
 

Barbara

Guardian
Benefactor
#5
This kind of was my instinct, but the insecurity gremlin took over. The scenes do include action and dialogue. And yes, they all move the story. Everything that happens is essential. I've been staring at them, wondering about getting rid of some, but they can't go. Thank for your input!
 
#7
My view would be to try to combine the important ones into a single scene (like your coffee shop idea). I feel that just fragments alone of a few lines each may come across as "thinking-out-loud" and not constitute a real story. I have seen it done that way in books I have read but I wouldn't say I'm a fan of it like that.
 
#8
Why are you insecure regarding your writing?
Is your plot missing some points.
Have you written a full synopsis for your story, that often helps to refer back to to keep you on the straight and narrow so to speak.
If you are using action and speech in such scenes then they are not suitable for such apparent flash scenes. Why Flash scenes? Are they flash scenes or flashbacks?
What is the need for them, what is the purpose they serve. Will they move the story along? Is it for overall impact or dramatisation?
Is that the best approach 'FLASH SCENES'
Have a good think about it, what would the best approach be? It might not be FLASH SCENES.
It might be worth writing a paragraph summary for each chapter in your book first, then take it from there.
Or even better put a sample up for us to all have a look at :)
Kind Regards,
Alix
 

Barbara

Guardian
Benefactor
#9
My view would be to try to combine the important ones into a single scene (like your coffee shop idea). I feel that just fragments alone of a few lines each may come across as "thinking-out-loud" and not constitute a real story. I have seen it done that way in books I have read but I wouldn't say I'm a fan of it like that.
Yes, I think that might be the way to go: to set it in the caf and, like Katie said, keep the pace. The flash scenes are mainly in this one chapter; to set everything and every one off onto the path. The protagonist has just been suspended so I could use the caf as his new 'office' from where he contemplates and scemes the next move.
 
#10
Yes, I think that might be the way to go: to set it in the caf and, like Katie said, keep the pace. The flash scenes are mainly in this one chapter; to set everything and every one off onto the path. The protagonist has just been suspended so I could use the caf as his new 'office' from where he contemplates and scemes the next move.
That sounds like it could work.
 

Barbara

Guardian
Benefactor
#11
@RainbowNerdAlix

Why are you insecure regarding your writing?
That's just me. I'm always insecure about my writing. By default, I tend to think I'm rubbish.

Is your plot missing some points.
Have you written a full synopsis for your story, that often helps to refer back to to keep you on the straight and narrow so to speak.
I have everything plotted out to a fair amount of detail. Synposis, etc. But it's interesting what you say about referring back to it. Actually, you have just given me a thought: I might be trying too hard to tick off the plot points.

Not sure if they are officially flash scenes. I called them that cos some are super short. Lots needs to happen here for the story to move forward: The protagonist needs to ring someone. He also needs to have his wife text him. He needs to have a quick chat with the waitress in the caf about something that will later turn out to be a scam, and one of the baddies needs to harrass him too. He also needs to write a short letter. and go to the GP for tests, the results of which will be important later. Some of this is timeline sensitive, others could be moved to a different section. And like I said the short scenes only happen in this particular section to send various balls rolling.

It might be worth writing a paragraph summary for each chapter in your book first, then take it from there.
I might just do that. That's a good idea. I did that at the beginning then got lazy, or keen, or too hot with the heatwave.
Thanks for that, Girl.
 
#17
Steven Furtick, an inspirational talker and preacher said something wise about self-belief: "The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel."

You're better than realise, Barbara...trust yourself more.
 
#19
I think tiny scenes are fine in principle, so long as they fit with the rest of the book, eg with regard to pacing. They could be used perhaps towards the end of a story to emphasise a breathless rush to a compelling conclusion; or in the middle to provide an interesting juxtaposition of characters (maybe to emphasise conflict); or at the beginning to introduce different motivators in an economical way. I suppose the answer is: 'it depends'! (not v. helpful! Sorry!) But I think if you feel it is right, and you approach it confidently, it will probably work.
 
#20
Whenever I start a new writing project, especially one that's intimidating in its complexity, I remind myself of something that Michelangelo said:

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."
 

Barbara

Guardian
Benefactor
#21
Whenever I start a new writing project, especially one that's intimidating in its complexity, I remind myself of something that Michelangelo said:

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."
That will go on my fridge. :)
 
#22
Is there a way to summarise the scenes, or at least a few of them? You might think they are all essential and have to be played out, but there could be opportunity to have a character sum up the outcome later, or include a short passage - a sentence or two - of tell to get the reader up to speed.
 

Barbara

Guardian
Benefactor
#23
Is there a way to summarise the scenes, or at least a few of them? You might think they are all essential and have to be played out, but there could be opportunity to have a character sum up the outcome later, or include a short passage - a sentence or two - of tell to get the reader up to speed.
Hey Inga. They already are a sentence or two long, and some are a para or two. They are essential too and contribute to the protagonist's downfall. Leaving them out and referring to them later might make the reader scratch their heads as to where it all came from. Although short, they need a bit of weight. But thank you for giving it your thought. Much appreciated.
 
#24
If there is an issue of maintaining momentum ... or rather increasing it, then may I suggest that you take your mini-scenes and reduce them gradually til you get to your one sentence paragraphs? So that, as the pace quickens, the paragraphs get shorter, the sentences more specific ... a bit like sped-up video editing to symbolise pressure.
 
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