Scene Under Construction

The last couple of scenes I’ve written in my WIP (Work In Progress) have been construction projects. No, I’m not writing about buildings. But I am building a scene, and there are similarities to building a house.

The scenes in question are what I call “technical” scenes. In the story there has been a shooting. My protagonist is a paramedic and my second main character is a cop. The first scene involves the medical response. Granted, I used to be an EMT, but procedures, laws, and technology have changed since I rode on an ambulance crew. So I have to do research.

For me, research equals a blueprint.

From there, I start to write. Using the research/blueprint, I lay out the technical layer of the story. It’s mostly dialogue and who does what. Details, details, details. The result reads like a textbook. A dry textbook. But this is only the beginning. The walls of the house are up, but are nothing more than two-by-fours. Maybe some plumbing and wiring. Necessary, but nothing great to look at.

Now, I have to go back and start adding layers. Emotions and tension. How does my protagonist feel about the patient? Do her feelings affect the way she does her job? If so, how?

In construction terms, the dry wall is going up. It’s beginning to look like a house.

More layers go in. Sensory stuff. Smells, sounds, dust, heat.

Those walls are getting a coat or two of paint.

And maybe I’ll add some small clue. Or have my protagonist take note of some other character’s reaction to the scene.

Now we’re adding the furnishings to our house.

It’s time to move on. Oh, I may think of something and come back to move the furniture around a bit. And a lot of that detailed technical stuff I started with may get cut or condensed so that the scene doesn’t read like an article in the Journal of Emergency Medicine. But overall, the scene has everything it needs.

The next technical scene takes place when the police move in to investigate the shooting. But the process is the same. Research. Technical details. Emotions, reactions, tension. Tickle as many of the senses as possible. And finally, the small, obscure stuff like a clue or a hint. Or a red herring.

This second scene still bears an Under Construction sign. Time to break out the hard hat and get back to work.

Comments

Joyce said…
Great analogy, Annette!
Susan said…
Very interesting, Annette. I wonderful analogy and a good way to look at building a scene. One layer at a time.

susan
Sherry said…
I wondered if you were still working on that book!!! Good. Good. Good.

Sherry
Annette said…
Thanks, Joyce and Susan. Sometimes I can do all the layers at once, but with the medical and police procedural stuff, I've found it's too much to handle at one time. For me, anyway. Everyone is different.

Yes, Sherry, I'm still working on the next Pete and Zoe story. Another reason you should join my online critique group!

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