In real life, when things are really stressful or scary, time can seem to slow down. You catch more details. You have more time to process, even more time to move your body if necessary.
In life, slow motion probably doesn’t happen very often, but in story–really, in every scene–there’s a moment where things change, and slowing down allows writer and reader alike to catch more details about that moment and to have more time to process it, to enjoy it.
So, for this prompt, you can write a new scene if you want (using another prompt, if you want) or you can use a scene you’ve already written. Find the moment in the scene that everything else in the scene is building towards (post on this coming–more details below). Now, unpack the moment. Slow it down. Do this with the intention that the closer in the passage you are to the moment, the more you’ll slow it down.
What do I mean by unpack? All sorts of things. Unpacking can mean showing rather than telling, but it can also mean changing out vague words for specific words or changing out conceptual words for visceral words. It can mean adding details because you skipped a bunch. Or adding whole steps in the unfolding of the event because you’ve skipped a bunch. It can mean adding character reactions–the internal reactions of the point-of-view character or the external reactions of everyone else. It can mean taking a sentence you’ve written and spelling out all the things that that sentence implies. Or that you, as writer, have assumed were true but forgot to put on the page.
There’s a good chance you’re excellent at writing some aspect of scenes–dialogue, action, setting, interiority, sensory details–but not so great at writing some other aspect. Unpack can mean consciously adding that thing that doesn’t come so naturally through your fingers on a first draft.
In short, use all these techniques and more to slow down the moment.
Book that inspired this post
I’m done reading for scenes. (It’s about time, I know, but still: Woohoo!)
But, actually, I’m not done. I finished all the hard copy books I have, but I haven’t cracked the digital books–and I’m not going to. As it is, I have plenty of material and a lot of it is probably redundant and will therefore be deleted, so… yeah, good times.
I also have some books that are entirely focused on one aspect of scene (dialogue, description, etc.) that I haven’t read yet but that I do want to read, so there may be some posting delays before I get to those (because break time), but anyway the short of it is: I’m done reading. Now I have to organize all the material. It’s already typed, so I’m hoping it won’t take very long, and with any luck, I’ll be done close to when this post goes live.
Wouldn’t that be neat?
Word of warning: I may or may not continue doing these scene prompt posts while the scene craft posts are going. This is because, though I probably also won’t do any Friday Own Work posts, I would like to do Storymaster Wednesday posts along with the Monday craft posts. Honestly, I’m pooped, and I’ve got two projects going, so I might not have time (read: brain power) to also do these Saturday posts. So . . . we’ll see.
I will pick them back up again during any delays and also when the scene craft posts are done. I’d like to eventually do a total of 52 scene prompt posts.
To the ten or fifteen of you who seem to read these scene prompt posts every week, YOU = AWESOME and you warm my heart.
That’s it for me!
If you found this post helpful . . .
1. Like it and share it
There are share buttons below . . .
2. Subscribe to the Blog
If you’d like to receive the Tools in your inbox as soon as they post, you can subscribe right here:
3. Subscribe to the Newsletter
If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the newsletter. It’s a monthly-to-quarterly-ish (that’s still vastly overstating it) newsletter to share news and free worksheets and whatnot. Your welcome email will include the 19-page Character Development Workbook.
4. And if you found it particularly helpful . . .
Also, people have been hiring me to review their loglines with the kind of analysis seen here and here, and I’m enjoying it. So, if you think your logline (or something else!) might benefit from a looksie and want to hire me to review it, email me at writeswithtools @ gmail dot com.