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Writing Advice from the Bookshelf: Jordan Rosenfeld on Character-Related Plot Threads

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Excerpt from Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time by Jordan E. Rosenfeld

Make a Scene

At the same time as you establish that your protagonist is a smack-talking hooligan with seductive eyes and a mop of brown curls, or a lonely librarian who reads mystery novels and winds up investigating an actual crime, in this first section of your narrative, you also need to establish:

  • Involvement. What is your protagonist’s relationship to the events of the significant situation? Is the event his fault, centered around him in some way; did he accidentally stumble into it, or is he integral to it?
  • The stakes. What he stands to lose or gain as a result of the above-mentioned events will create necessary tension and drama.
  • Desires. What he desires, from material goods to deep and abiding love, will inform the stakes and his intentions.
  • Fears. What he fears, from bodily harm to not obtaining his desire, will also inform the stakes.
  • Motivation. What reasons does he have to act upon the events of the significant situation? What is he driven by?
  • Challenges. How does the significant situation challenge his life, views, status, other people, his status quo, etc.?
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    Work Cited:

    Rosenfeld, Jordan E. Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 2008. 169. Print.

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