This is almost the entire file I label FIF in the Workspace folder for this scene of Kary's. It's a sample of the kind of preparation I do for every scene, and this part has to do with basic structure (beginning/middle/end, turning points...) which I've made my standard out of ideas in Donald Maass' The Fire in Fiction.
I find that if I think through each of the points in this template separately, and ANSWER each question in WRITING, then the whole has a coherence which includes all the little details I might not think of in the heat of writing.
I've turned it into a checklist; Maass doesn't have anything that specific, especially in his Chapter 8, Tension All the Time, but I'm likely to forget things if I don't write lists. And one of my reviewers for PURGATORY was kind enough to note
"...the tension is considerable, and the reader is kept in suspense all the way to the disappointing end. I have to call it disappointing because Ms. Ehrhardt has clearly planned the whole story across a trilogy, and this is therefore only the first part. Disappointing, because by the time one reaches the end of this first book, one is aching for resolution..."
D.R. Rose, on Amazon.
Part A of my template has to do with the internal structure of a scene, and comes from FIF, Chapter 3, Scenes That Can't Be Cut. Part B is from Maass' Chapter 8. I keep FIF within easy reach - his examples are very helpful.
Template prompts are in bold. My additions to Maass-inspired prompts are marked with *. Notes to make things comprehensible are in square brackets .
And, finally, because some things are connected all the way to the end of the third volume of the trilogy (that's how I decide many a plot twist) - there is no way I'm posting spoilers ahead of finished work - if a bit has been redacted, I've replaced it, however long, with *****. You should always experience the scene itself before learning about its underpinnings, which, like the absorbable stitches often used now in surgery, should have disappeared by the time you read.
Timing considerations: Since last scene, or last scene for this character, what has changed/happened? Does it make sense? Does it have conflict opportunities? Does it have to be dealt with?
6 days have passed, and Kary’s been writing, getting somewhere with Akiiya, over whom she has control, but has to exercise life and death decisions.
Part A: Scenes that can’t be cut.
Goal - forward and back: Not to have anything change! Kary’s goal fails miserably - because she’s picked a goal that keeps her inside the fairy world she’s created, when she’s had a taste of the real world.
Dialogue: check for relevance and snappiness and subtext. And TRUTH.
FL [first line]: What the heck did I do with myself all day before?
OTP [outer turning point]: Grant calls, and she agrees to consider the possibility of working on a screenplay for PF.
ITP [inner turning point]: After talking to Elise, she realizes she’s decided to work on the screenplay. ‘For the writing exercise aspect.’
LL [last line]: She felt lighter than she’d felt in days. Since he left.
Tornado: Grant’s attempt to persuade her is hard to resist.
*HEART: There’s an empty hole left after Andrew; she is thinking of filling it with WORK.
*Pivotal: What if scene DIDN’T happen?
Without the PF script, and *****, Kary has no weapon *****. She doesn’t know, but she knows the script would be currency of a sort.
Part B: Tension in
2. Action: I have this at 4PM right now; Kary has come up from writing, had lunch, and is wondering what to do with herself in the afternoons. At the end, she goes up to take next nap. From writing, to life in the living room, to living death by sleeping. Again.
Move around while answering phone calls. She goes to the window, sees the hummingbirds, between Grant and Elise.
3. Exposition (*interior monologue, *CHARACTER emotions/check list): plenty. She chooses to take Grant’s call, and then to call Elise back, and we see the turmoil that creates.
4. Weather: Clear, calm, as stable and stationary as her life. Blue skies, no clouds. No evidence of the stormy months before.
5. Landscape: Her house.
7. Aftermath: It has tired her to let the world in again.
8. Travel: Only up stairs. And in her mind. To where?
9. Special - Violence:
10. Special - sex:
11. Description (*SENSES): the hummers
From 17.4 [BOOK 1]: “Ronnie looked at her as if it might be the last time. “Yeah?” She turned away, focused on the Ruby-throated hummingbirds buzzing each other for control of the feeder on the deck. “Mom, I got pregnant.”” Don’t overuse the birds - or use them differently - THEY WOULD LEAVE SOON, when the days got short and the nights cool.
12. READER emotion (check list): The reader is anxious because Andrew is gone, and Kary here. The reader sees Grant (who will appear only here) and the PF script (which Andrew has requested, though Grant tells her to forget that) as the possible instruments.
Even when he says he won’t call, and she says it’s unlikely since she’ll cut off the deal the instant there are problems or her conditions aren’t met. So the reader gets more anxious.
13. Foreshadowing: ***** is key to the solution of the story in Book 3, though no one knows that yet.
14. Static moment: Falling asleep.
My apologies for the removal of the ***** spoilers - it's all for your own good. You'll figure them out when the time comes, and maybe see them coming, but I make notes to myself I can't share until that part of the story is published. If you DO guess, please don't share!