25 March 2009

Lead the Reader to the Plot

White pebbles help Hansel and Gretel find their way home. Breadcrumbs simply vanish.

Stories are shown in scene. Each scene leaves little pebbles to advance the plot on at least three levels:

Dramatic Action plot
Character Emotional Development plot
Thematic Significance plot (and more...)

A Few White Pebbles to lead the reader to the important parts of the story:

  • Cause and Effect = because of what happens in one scene, the next scene arises. Cause and effect leads the reader from one scene to another. Cause and effect lessens confusion about motivation, which leads the reader deeper into the real time moment of the story.
  • Authentic Details = generic details lull the reader to daydream rather than follow along with the story. Authentic details ground the reader in the world of the story unfolding moment by moment.
  • Foreshadowing = Provide a few beats of foreshadowing so the reader does not just read right past an important scene. Example: A powerful secondary character triggers the Crisis. In the Beginning (1/4), she's introduced in conflict with her father. She wants to sing in Nashville. He wants her to get a swimming scholarship for college. Both of her strengths and the core conflict are alluded to in the first scene in which she appears. The second time the secondary character appears is practicing vocals with her band. The audience does not yet know the importance of this character in the overall story. The reader is still scrambling to get oriented in the story; determine who is who, what's going on. To help ensure that the reader does not just read right past the practice scene, toss out a few white pebbles to lead the audience. Scene of introduction contains dialog about what is coming: "we're practicing at the house after school today." The reader anticipates the later scene. When the scene comes, the reader pays attention.
  • Exotic World = Show the scene as an exotic world that identifies the daughter as uniquely separate from her father.

Any white pebbles to share?