Scene Structure: Beats

Mech Heart HiRes copy 2

A beat is a unit of conflict.

Actually, there are many definitions of “beats” in writing fiction, but for the purposes of this series, beats are a unit of conflict, analgous to the acts in a story. They’re a tool for finding out what’s wrong with a scene, for strengthening a scene, but probably not for writing one. If you’ve written a scene you think is great, don’t bother with beats. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But if a scene isn’t working, then looking for beats is an excellent way to tighten and focus it. Continue reading

Scene: A Definition

Mech Heart HiRes copy 2

A scene is a unit of conflict.

Every scene is a story. It has a protagonist and an antagonist in conflict as they struggle for their goals. These goals may be very small, their struggles very slight, but scenes need those struggles and goals for the same reason that novels and movies need struggles and goals: to keep the story moving. Continue reading

The Synopsis

Mech Heart HiRes copy 2A synopsis is a short, focused summary of a story’s plot.

A synopsis has two purposes. One is to help a writer focus her plot (“What the hell is this book about anyway?”) and the other is to prove to an editor or an agent that she can plot. So to write a synopsis, you need to pare away everything but the most important plot points: the acts and the turning points.
Continue reading

Linear Structure: Subplot

Mech Heart HiRes copy 2

A subplot is a smaller story within the main plot.

Every subplot is a story with a protagonist and an antagonist (not necessarily the protagonist and antagonist of the main plot) who are in a struggle to achieve their goals. The difference between the main plot and the subplot is that the main plot is the story that the reader invests in; the subplot is a shorter story that supports and adds layers to the main plot. Continue reading

Linear Structure and the Relationship Plot

Mech Heart HiRes copy 2

Romantic relationships often (but not always) follow a linear path based on connections that grow stronger as the lovers find out more about each other, including how they behave under the pressures of the life or, in the case of story, under the pressures of the plot.

Below is a vastly simplified outline of the stages many people pass through as they fall in love (with a big thank you to Millie the Model comics): Continue reading