I guess I am a bit of an obsessive outliner after all, because even as I prepare to write a scene, I make a semblance of an outline. It keeps me on track. I ask myself what I need to get across in the scene, then jot down notes. Here’s an example from early in the book so I don’t give too much away. I knew the scene would take place at a memorial service. In my full book outline, I said the service would be on the beach, but as I thought more about it, I knew the beach would not be conducive to the service, so right off the bat, I changed the setting to a large building on Topsail Island. (note to blog readers who’ve been following the name change issue–the mother is now Lori, though that may not last either! Sue Ellen is now her best friend).
What I needed to get across in this scene:
- the setting. the building and a bit of its history.
- Lori’s point of view, because she has the most at stake emotionally; she’s seated between Andy and Maggie and acutely aware of their presence and her good fortune at having her precious son there with her
- the somber mood of the community
- Reverend Bill’s sincere sorrow over the loss of the fire victims and his church, as well as his disdain for the Lockwood family
- Keith’s condition–heavily sedated, unable to speak
- the firefighters are up front; marcus is in 3/4 profile to lori
- the mayor (?–or some official?) requested Andy sit in front row. he/she will honor Andy (as well as firefighters) during the service. people are aware of Andy’s heroism. How people treated Andy in the past.
- Lori views Maggie almost as a co-parent instead of as a daughter
- Lori’s upset that Keith made references to the financial differences between their families. Does Sue Ellen (Lori’s best friend and Keith’s mother) harbor grievances toward her she’s never spoken about? A bit of the history between Lori and Sue Ellen, how Sue Ellen really saved Lori.
- History of Andy and Keith’s relationship and Keith’s wildness
- Dawn announces the formation of a fund for the victims
Even as I wrote this scene, things changed because the characters did a few things I didn’t expect. Nevertheless, I need to know what I plan to accomplish before writing a scene. What does the reader need to know at that point in the story?
I remember that as I wrote this scene at the Opium Den, I cried. (The people at the Opium Den are used to me. . . ). Lori could feel her children’s arms against her arms as they sat next to each other at the service and was overwhelmed with gratitude that they were safe and alive. I got overwhelmed right along with her. I LOVE when that happens!
Off to the Opium Den right now, the outline of my next scene in hand.