NCWA welcomes Gloria Kempton in part two of a two part series.
Just as in real life, we react to dramatic events, in a story, you want to give your character a chance to react, whether the character is you or is fictional. Sequels are important components of any story because they twist and turn the story and take it in a certain direction determined by the character’s reaction.
Just as a scene needs the three elements of intention, journey and collision, the sequel also needs certain elements in order to effectively communicate the character’s reaction. These elements are: emotion, thought, decision, and action.
You or your character react to what just happened in the previous dramatic scene with some emotion; sorrow, anger, terror, joy, frustration, nervousness—there are a myriad of types and intensity of emotions. While the character is processing the emotion, he’s starting to think about what he needs to do to get out of the pain, to fix the problem, whatever it is. The emotion and thought part of the sequel usually take place simultaneously.
The decision part of the sequel is what drives the sequel. By this, I mean that the character’s need to make a decision should be paramount. The story’s plot should be twisting and turning as it moves, and every time the character makes a decision, that’s exactly what starts to happen. The character is responsible for shifting the story line in the sequel so that it moves in a slightly different or very different direction. The pressure to make this decision can cause the character much stress and give the sequel needed tension and suspense.
The action part of the sequel can occur right after the decision or even later in the next chapter or scene or several scenes later. The character makes the decision which leads to action which twists the story line and moves it forward. If your story is strongly character driven, the character’s decisions will usually create some kind of internal transformation. This is how you show who the character is becoming as the story events unfold; how he reacts to the dramatic events in his life and the kinds of decisions he makes as a result.
Gloria Kempton will be speaking at NCWA’s meeting tonight.
She is the author of eight nonfiction books, two novels, and hundreds of short stories and articles published in a number of national magazines including Writer’s Digest. Gloria coaches writers one-on-one on any aspect of fiction, nonfiction, or the writing life and has taught at writing conferences all over the country including the Maui writers conference. She was the managing editor of two magazines and was a freelance book editor for nine major publishers. She currently instructs online courses for www.writersonlineworkshops.com and www.writers.com.