I didn’t run off to explore the structure of an argumentative essay yesterday as you may have suspected. I’d already reached out to the Internet to help me refine—or embelish—my understanding of a sequel’s elements, so I finished that up. What I uncovered amused me more than elevated my understanding. The author I pedastle for illuminating scene and sequel structure for me appears to have been building from the prior work of his teacher. The similarities between their language was so strong that at first I thought maybe one had plagarized the other. Then, when I saw they had the same university press publisher, I thought maybe one was just the pseudonym of the other. Finally, the acknowledgement in the latter’s book made the relationship between the two clear.
This morning I explored an argument’s structure. That structure isn’t quite as bulletable as Bickham’s (via Swain) outline for sequels, but it is describable. I wasn’t surprised to find a modification of the core introduction-body-conclusion structure of any essay. I was pleased to find something I hadn’t expected following the conclusion however: next steps.
I’ve not yet taken action to meld the parts of a sequel to the relating parts of an argument—I don’t know that I will—but I’m sensing strong parallels between the two. As I see it, the point of a sequel is to demonstrate to the reader that the character has become believably convinced to do something based on the events of the preceding scenes. The character effectively argues points of evidence until they arrive at a decision then they take action.
The first element of a sequel, emotion, isn’t resolving as easily as the last three elements. I don’t think it must, but it would be elegant if it did. Maybe the character’s emotions are like the introduction of the arguement. Why the character is even considering these various points of argument. That seems like a stretch and requires that I slip in the relating element for the thesis statement. An element a character might not have ahead of their thinking.
Maybe that’s the trick. Emotionally driven characters will jump to a thesis statement type conclusion ahead of any substantial arguments whereas a more practically driven character will take the time to support or undermine their own initial reaction to the the prior scene. Spend more time ahead of the thesis on emotion and very little on the argument for one character. Spend more time weighing the facts for another.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Malone.
413 words on day 992
I’ve got the monitor turned on end. Can you tell?
Bickham describes writing structure in pairs. He begins with small cause and effect type pairings then accumulates layers till he begins talking about pairings hovering at the chapter level: scenes and sequels. Scenes have goals, conflict, more conflict, and outcomes. Sequels have emotions, thoughts, decisions, and actions. I’ve been trying to write the later these past few days.
I don’t seem to have any natural facility with sequels.
Not that I expected sequels would write easy. I just hadn’t realized how resistant I am to writing character thoughts and feelings on the page. I like to show evidence of those things in their guestures and minor actions. I feel like I’m good at that during scenes with conflict. When I need to write more in a character’s head, I find my flow staggers and stumbles. I’m looking for a way to get out of their head.
It feels too intimate, but I think I could get over that without much effort. The real trouble I see, is that I can’t form an argument with a charater’s emotions and thoughts that will lead to a decision with a pace that makes sense. In my barely credible amount of practice it’s been a struggle to write more than one sentence for each element of a sequel: Bob feels hatred. Bob thinks John is at fault. Bob decides to confront John. Bob grabs a gun and heads over to John’s place. I even have a hard time not using the key words in my writing.
This is the same conclusion I came to the first time I tried my hand at sequels a few months back—or a year ago. At that time I figured I needed to take a step further away from narrative writing and look into the classic techniques of argumentative essays. I didn’t do that then. I’m tempted to not do it now. Odd, huh?
My thinking here is that I’ve only got a few days left on 1000 Days. My thinking here is that I’d like to keep my writing narrative. That I should save the argumentative essay thing for the next phase.
For those of your cringing. I’ll at least go google that to see what the general techniques are.
xxx words on day 991
Charming watched the lights of her river home recede while the flames spread through it. Another propane tank exploded lifting aluminum roof panels into the night sky. Flitting away from Song over the Benhá felt selfish. She would live when others would die, and that made her guilty. But Gane hadn’t given her any choice. He’d shaken her awake in her own bed and shoved clothes at her as told her she needed to come with him if she wanted to live.
She did want to live, but she hadn’t had time to understand the concussions Outward or the shuddering of the gangway beneath her feet as she ran to the Leaf. She hadn’t realized all of Song was under attack and not just her. Gane just pulled her behind him as they darted through empty passages lit by dim and sporadic fluorescent lamps. She could still feel his unwavering grip in her hand. She flexed her fingers and tried to rub out the memory of his certainty.
Charming decided no one would take choices from her again, then she turned away from the sight of her burning home and looked to the land. The cold river air disappeared as they crossed over the shore.
First photo courtesy of Carrie Kellenberger
Second photo courtesy of Xavi
xxx words on day 990