Saturday, November 19, 2022

The Three O's of a Great Scene: Objective, Opposition, Outcome


by MaryAnn Diorio @DrMaryAnnDiorio

Scenes are the lifeblood of a story. The stronger your scenes, the stronger your story.

So, how does one craft a good scene?

Scenes—like everything else in God's universe—reflect His triune nature. In other words, they work in threes. Why? Because God ordained the entire universe to work in threes. 

Consider the academic disciplines. Art has three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Music has three primary elements: melody, harmony, and rhythm. Chemistry has three basic elements: solids, liquids, and gases. History has three periods of time: past, present, and future. Geometry has three dimensional aspects: length, width, and height. And Story has three acts: a beginning, a middle, and an end.

In our daily lives, we continually use the Rule of Three. We speak of youth, middle-age, and old age; small, medium, and large; and ready, set, go. Even some of our favorite childhood stories employ the Rule of Three: The Three Little Pigs,Three Blind Mice, and The Three Musketeers.

So, what is it about the Rule of Three that so captivates the human mind and heart? The answer is at once simple and complex.

As humans created in God's image, we, too, are wired in threes. We have a spirit, a soul, and a body. Our spirit is comprised of the conscience, the imagination, and the intuition. Our soul is comprised of the mind, the will, and the emotions. The body is comprised of soft tissue, hard tissue, and fluid.

Even the field of psychology recognizes the Rule of Three. In his insightful article, "Have Better Conversations with the Rule of Three," Dr. Karl Albrecht points out the three aspects of good communication: Questions, Declarations, and Conditionals. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brainsnacks/201511/have-better-conversations-the-rule-three)/

Even the ancients recognized the Rule of Three. There is an old Latin phrase—omne trium perfectum—that states that everything that comes in threes is perfect.

Given its universality in the grand scheme of things, the Rule of Three is something to keep in mind when writing stories. Why? Because the concept of threes naturally—and supernaturally—resonates with readers. This is the reason a story is most effective when it is built on three acts. 

The same is true of a scene. When we build a scene on the three O's—Objective, Opposition, and Outcome—our scene will resonate with readers. 

Let's look at each O:

Objective

The Objective of a scene is your intended goal for a scene. What do you want the scene to accomplish? What are you aiming for as you write the scene? What is your motive for writing the scene? Do you want your scene to intensify the conflict? To build suspense? To provide resolution? Or do you want your scene simply to add backstory to your character's conflict?
Your objective for the scene will dictate what writing techniques you use to reach your objective for that scene.

Opposition

Without Opposition—aka conflict—you have no story. Nor do you have a scene. The best scenes are filled with conflict, both external and internal. It could be argued that internal conflict works better than external conflict in connecting your reader with your story, although this is not necessarily the case. Regardless, Opposition is crucial to your scene. Indeed, without Opposition you may not have a scene at all, but simply a vignette.

Outcome

The Outcome of a scene has to do with what you wish your scene to show or to prove to your reader. Do you want your scene to answer a question or pose a new one? Do you want your scene to add more conflict or more mystery? Do you want your scene to bring the conflict to a happy—or not-so-happy— resolution? 

Interestingly, Objective, Opposition, and Outcome are interconnected and interdependent. Your scene Objective will have implications for your scene Opposition, and both your scene Objective and your scene Opposition will determine your scene Outcome. 

Knowing this, it is our privilege and joy as authors, with God's help, to craft these three elements into powerful, memorable scenes that resonate with our readers and that touch their lives in meaningful ways.

TWEETABLE

MaryAnn Diorio writes riveting women's fiction from a small, quaint Victorian town in southern New Jersey where the neighbors still stop to chat while walking their dogs, the houses still sport wide, wrap-around porches, and the charming downtown still finds kids licking lollipops and old married couples holding hands. A Jersey girl at heart, MaryAnn is a big fan of Jersey diners, Jersey tomatoes, and the Jersey shore. You can learn more about MaryAnn at maryanndiorio.com.

Featured Image: Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

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