In this, my third article about the genesis of stories, I’m talking about a Concept related start that links between the World Concept, and starting with Characters. That is the Scene Concept.
Ever had a dream that you couldn’t shake? One where you watched something unfold between one or more people you didn’t know, but felt oddly drawn to? Or maybe you were listening to some music and an image popped into your head? All of these flashes of inspiration are usual sources for Scene Concepts. It might even be something you overheard at another table in a restaurant.
The fact is, we are constantly surrounded by potential scenes or interesting moments. The question is, do we see them?
While I wish I could impart some kind of wisdom in regards to how to recognize these moments, for now take comfort that it’s probably best to just wait and stick with the ones that hit you in the gut.
I do highly recommend you keep writing utensils near your bed. I’ve had more than one idea come to me in dreams.
But I digress…
I said at the start the Scene Concept is a bridge between the World Concept and the Character inspired story. Why? Because a scene gives us bits of both things. A scene can suggest rules and a world, but not to the extent of a World Concept. It also gives some characters and maybe a little of who they are, but nowhere near the fully fleshed Characters that become the basis of a story on their own.
Has anyone even done this? Sure. One of the most famous examples is the author of the Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer. She stated that Twilight originated as a dream she had of Bella and Edward lying in a field. At the time, she didn’t know their names, she didn’t know he was a vampire, and she didn’t know why they were in the field. But the scene was so strong in her mind, she plotted out the entire first book based on what brought them to that scene and what happened afterward.
Even if this type of inspiration hasn’t driven you to start a story, chances are it has driven you to the keyboard while your story has been in progress.
I’ve never found a scene inspired an entire story with me, but while I’ve been working on a story a scene I’ve thought of helps to drive the story forward, or maybe changes the nature of the story I was telling. Scenes are the building blocks of tales, and it’s not overly surprising that they could inspire an entire story.
Pitfalls? Same as the previous two, but deadlier because it suffers from the potential of both problems; thin plot and thin characters.
In the same way that being inspired by a scene can give you samples of the previous two inspiration types, it doesn’t flesh either out as strong. So it’s possible that both your plot and characters will suffer.
How do you avoid that?
Well, you have a bit of work ahead of you. The author who has a character needs to get to know that character to try and find the story. The author who has a World concept needs to find their story in that world.
If your inspiration is a scene, you need to find out both. Who are the people in your scene? Why are they there? What kind of world is this? And so on.
While having an inspiration for a scene set in a world I’ve already created, with characters I already know, is an exciting event, having it as the sole thing to go on for a story feels thin.
What do you think? Every had a story born from a single scene?