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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Writing Class » Scene, Segment, and Sequence

   
Author Topic: Scene, Segment, and Sequence
extrinsic
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This analysis topic serves two functions; one, breaks down an assortment of scene sequences' dialogue (conversation) and thought (introspection), attribution, sensation, emotion, action, description, narration, as well as by other modes, exposition (theme and meaning development), summarization, recollection, explanation, and transition. And two, guidance for similar dissection of any or all narratives.

These are formulaic template considerations, though generic formulas, some variety and originality is common place, and unique to individual writers. Another subtler point for consideration: compose the way these templates do, a common method, or use them for models and write, organize, structure differently, understood, though, these methods are comfortable for general readers and less challenging to compose and read than variants. Or some variants might be easier to read though harder to write. To each according to intent and audience.

Long fiction models for the exercise, some science fiction and some fantasy, are from the public domain and somewhat dated due to their copyright lapses, are linked below and from Project Gutenberg's Science Fiction and Fantasy bookshelves.

The first post to come will emphasize opening thirteen lines analysis of the following novel models:

The Colors of Space Marion Zimmer Bradley (1963*) [*copyright lapsed, Rule 6, and not timely renewed].
Gambler's World Keith Laumer (1961*)
Omnilingual H. Beam Piper (1957*)
The Stoker and the Stars John A. Sentry (Algirdas Jonas Budrys) (1959*) short story
The Tin Woodman of Oz L. Frank Baum (1918)
The Ultimate Weapon John W. Campbell (1936*)

Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote science fiction and fantasy and was one of the big five of the Platinum Age science fiction.
Keith Laumer is well known for his Retief and military science fiction, a Silver Age science fiction writer.
John W. Campbell is better known for his editor helmship of Astounding Stories, which later became Analog Science Fiction and Fact, a Golden Age writer and editor, and shaped the Silver Age.
H. Beam Piper is known for his "Fuzzies" novels and a Golden Age legacy.
Algirdas Jonas Budrys, aka Algis Budrys, John A. Sentry, past WotF judge and anthology editor.
L. Frank Baum, writer of the Oz saga -- no more need be said.

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extrinsic
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First thirteen lines analyses of the above to come, based on clause-sentence sequence, based on Antagonism, Causation, and Tension development, ACT, and based on segment sequencing by preparation, suspension, and resolution features. And an analysis of morality features for what a given story is "really" about.

Also based on mode: Description, Introspection, Action, Narration, Emotion, Sensation, Summarization, Exposition, Conversation, Recollection, Explanation, Transition, DIANE'S SECRET, mindful of overlaps.

Bradley's The Colors of Space first; this sample is a preamble, a prelude introduction, a teaser, equivalent to a film trailer. The timeline catches up to the teaser nine thousand words in. Fifty thousand words total.
quote:
The Colors of Space
Marion Zimmer Bradley
1963
"Sudden Panic" - thirteen-lines start

It was a week before the Lhari ship went into warp-drive, and all that time young Bart Steele had stayed in his cabin. He was so bored with his own company that the Mentorian medic was a welcome sight when he came to prepare him for cold-sleep.

The Mentorian paused, needle in hand. "Do you wish to be wakened for the time we shall spend in each of the three star systems, sir? You can, of course, be given enough drug to keep you in cold-sleep until we reach your destination."

Bart felt tempted--he wanted very much to see the other star systems. But he couldn't risk meeting other passengers. The needle went into his arm. In sudden panic, he realized he was helpless. The ship would touch down on three worlds, and on any of them the Lhari might have his description, or his alias! He



[ December 22, 2015, 01:34 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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extrinsic
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I started this topic confident that I had the necessary composition skills in hand to share and expectant my grasp would advance due to sharing. The topic foundered on shoals, though, because I was under-equipped. Then came across L. Rust Hills' Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular, 1979, per our moderator Ms. Dalton Woodbury's recommendation. (Thank you, much appreciated.)

Hills addresses sequencing, related to pace, movement flow, drama, and etc.; segments labeled preparation, suspension, and resolution and their criteria. Further investigation of the content and analysis of it in narrative works, published and projects in process, other writers and mine, has borne fruit.

Considering revisiting this segment, sequence, and scene topic with new-found knowledge built from Hills and others. I now understand the sequencing of the above Bradley sample opening, for instance.

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Grumpy old guy
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I'm not sure what you're trying to discover, or examine. I think it has to do with how a writer can use the concept of cause and effect to greater effect in plotting -- foreshadowing, premonition, oracular vision, or simple delayed effect; a cause in one scene has its effect in a much later scene. Is this close to the ballpark?

Phil.

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extrinsic
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Part -- that the tangled web of causation is macro and micro cosmic. Sentence-by-sentence sequencing I've fumbled and sought its cues, even clause by clause and even simple sentence syntax sequencing in one fell swoop, on a continuum through to the macro of a narrative whole. The Bradley sample above, for example, is not per se sentence-by-sentence sequencing, paragraph-by-paragraph though.

One new realization of sequencing Hills doesn't overtly examine is how close the three segment types relate to building reader effect, especially reader curiosity and sympathy or empathy arousal: tension (nor tension's relation to causation and antagonism). Reader effect is a causality. Hills treats sequencing as a narrative's internal causal matters somewhat related to foreshadowing as preparation, and greater detail about the three parts though generically what suspension and resolution then are and their loci, and distinguishes foreshadowing separate from sequencing too.

Anyway, now I've learned the cosmos of sequencing and how to spot it in narratives or its jumbles or lacks and use it to good effect. One piece fell into place in particular, until a narrative's end, instead of Hills' "resolution" label, somewhat partial satisfaction of reader aroused curiosity follows preparation and suspension segment sequencing and sets criteria for all three. Prepare, set up curiosity arousal;, suspend curiosity arousal, on a stepped height; somewhat satisfy curiosity; and as well emotional arousal added as adjunct to "curiosity," which then incorporates antagonism's arousals and appeals.

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Grumpy old guy
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So, then, are you attempting to use the reader's understanding of causation to create anticipation (tension) in the mind of the reader for an expected action in the future?

Phil

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extrinsic
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Yes. Hills alternately labels tension's suspense identity "prepared awaiting" for a future action, that is, readers prepared for and then kept in that escalating state until curiosity is partially, all along accumulative, and wholey satisfied at an end. The multidimensional path is a crooked zigzag oscillation while it unfolds through a sequence of choices (moral anguishes), though in retrospect at an end is an inevitable outcome due to a first decision (first cause), say a moral error or folly reaction to an initial antagonism.

Note connections to Aristotle's causation movement. Add "the unmerited misfortune of individuals like us" due to the first error's antagonism ("like us," tension's other identity, empathy or sympathy, rapport at least), then tragedy, comedy, or bildungsroman's both (maturation narrative) bittersweet tragically comedic beautiful outcomes become retrospectively inevitable, to move the human heart from start to end.

Likewise, this is Aristotle's energeic narrative (moral truth discovery), not per se John Gardner's other two forms, the philosophical assertion of a moral law, nor the lyrical exaltation of a virtue, though they are not exclusive of each other.

Foremost for me, this approach allows, if not demands, a contemporaneous progression synthesis of event, setting, and character development, not once and done all over with in weary blocks -- development piecemeal per sequence. Plus, sequencing is a profound filter tool for assessments of missed, misarranged, excess, and underrealized content and organization.

[ December 19, 2016, 12:19 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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I feel that I am on the crux of an epiphany. What I need to know is what you mean, specifically, by your use of the term 'tension'.

I ask this because you have coined the term 'moral anguish' for, I'm not sure what, from John Gardner's term 'anguish of moral choice'. The two terms are NOT interchangeable, they're not even comparable. As you should well know. [Smile]

Phil.

[ December 21, 2016, 07:18 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]

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extrinsic
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Would that capital-T Tension were solely Freytag's sense of the term. Alas, it is not so. Tension, in large part, is reader emotional effect. Freytag distinguishes its two identities as sympathy or empathy and suspense's emotional evocations. He notes fear and pity are sympathy's identities, for tragedy's unmerited misfortunes due to self-error of people like us anyway, and allows other emotional clusters for empathy's identities, awe and wonder, science fiction's mainstays, for instance.

Suspense, likewise, has a tree of identities, top tier: curiosity arousal, suspended satisfaction, and timely satisfaction. Curiosity killed the cat; it stayed dead a while; satisfaction brought it back.

Gardner's anguish of moral choice is an intangible tension engine congruent to a tangible tension engine, say, a causation and antagonism of a tangible item want. Moral choice anguish posits contrary vice temptation with virtue exhortation. Say Donnie wants money, more money than he needs, because he doesn't have as much as Tillis does, Donnie's congruent problem.

The money want is tangible; its moral choice anguish intangible is whether it's a vice or virtue, or less of a vice than an utter vice, to Donnie, more so to readers' sense of moral values. Reader sympathy comes from fear and pity for Donnie's any means to an end tactics; reader curiosity comes from whether Donnie will or will not satisfy the want-problem and more so whether poetic justice will be duly served upon him for his self-error of runaway greed. Or he fails and is served due poetic justice anyway, or, the dickens forbid, Donnie comes to timely understand his social responsibilities, and receives a measure of negative and the positive opposite poetic justice for it. Or no poetic justice ensues at all, a niche reality imitation convention of Realism through Modernism and Postmodernism, notably, Naturalism's pessimistic nihilism.

Comedy if Donnie succeeds in his Midas-touch greed, tragedy if he fails, bildungsroman if he emotionally matures, comedy, at an equivalent personal sacrifice cost, tragedy. Postmodern Naturalism if Donnie receives no just comeuppance for his utter vice. The moral anguish then is of mens rea, guilty thought, only that he fears he might be caught red-handed and suffer consequences he believes he does not deserve.

[ December 21, 2016, 03:27 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Grumpy old guy
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I am coming to the opinion that terms such as tension, suspense, and even pity are simply part of a grab-bag of emotional markers trying to explain that what the writer has done is to create in the mind of the reader the anticipation of an action to come for good or for ill through the artful development of character, circumstance, and setting.

The underlying premise is that bad things happen to good people for no reason and, if it can happen to them, it can happen to you. Aristotle paraphrased [Smile] . The trick is to remind the readers of this.

Phil.

[ December 22, 2016, 05:56 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]

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extrinsic
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Aristotle says tragedy ensues when a mostly good person like us commits a self-error or folly that snowballs to extreme ends. He doesn't discuss how external blame assignment is a companion of self-error and tragedy.

I wonder if emotional effects are simply part of a marker grab bag, less simple than they may seem. The terms, though, are oversimplification, their definitions, too. Explanations of them close in on their identities, though are yet more shorthand for complex processes.

"Complication," for example, entered English usage fifteenth century through the usual tortured path: from another European language, French, from Latin, from Greek. The word translated from Greek occurs six times in The Poetics, without much definition or context, scratches an idea's edges.

The term is used sporadically and erratically through mid nineteenth century and disappears from dramatic writing discourse, conflated with "conflict" after that through recent times. However, the Webster's first sense, a, b, c, and d of the word remains about drama's sense of the word throughout the word's half millennia tenure.

For segment sequence purposes, complication need only be tangible, often so though not exclusively, in order to invoke a companion congruent intangible complication. Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, an ancient classic model, begins with a tangible self-ambition want-problem, and tragedy ensues due to the self-error complication, tangible and intangible tragedy. An intangible complication nature, however, is readily overlooked, underrealized, missed development. If it is realized, in the main through implication, wow, such narratives rise above the fray.

Segment sequences that focus on tangible complication and intangible complication implication, that also imply conflict and develop tangible conflict soon, directs filtered out needless content and incorporated needed content and directs organization craft.

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