Scenes and Characters

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Theme is primarily derived from the balance between items. When examining the quad of Variations containing the Range, we can see that the Range and counter-point make up only one pair out of those that might be created in that quad. We have also seen this kind of balance explored in the chapter on Character where we talked about three different kinds of pairs that might be explored: Dynamic, Companion, and Dependent.

Just as with character quads, we can make two diagonal pairs, two horizontal pairs, and two vertical pairs from the Variations in the Range quad. Each of these pairs adds commentary on the relative value of Morality to Self-Interest. Only after all six have been explored will the thematic argument will have been fully made. It could go in a manner as follows: By answering each of these questions in a different thematic sequence, the absolute value of Morality compared to Self-Interest will be argued by the impact of the six different relative values.

With six thematic Sequences and three dynamic Acts, it is not surprising that we find two Sequences per Act. In fact, this is part of what makes an Act Break feel like an Act Break. It is the simultaneous closure of a Plot Progression and a Theme Progression.

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The order in which the six thematic sequences occur does not affect the message of a story, but it does determine the thematic experience for the audience as the story unfolds. The only constraints on order would be that since the Range is the heart of the thematic argument, one of the three pairs containing the Range should appear in each of the three dynamic Acts.

Any one of the other three pairs can be the other Sequence. The four structural Acts are more like a map of the terrain. As a result, a more structural kind of thematic Sequence is associated with the Types directly. Beneath each Type is a quad of four Variations.

From a structural point of view, the Act representing each Type will be examined or judged by the four Variations beneath it. The difference between this and the thematic sequences we have just explored is that Obtaining is judged by each Variation in the quad separately, rather than each Variation in the quad being compared with one another. It is an upward looking evaluation, rather than a sideways looking evaluation.

In this manner, a thematic statement can be made about the subject matter of concern in each of the four structural Acts.


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The six Sequences constitute an argument about the appropriateness of different value standards. By the time we get down to scene resolution, there are so many cross-purposes at work that we need to limit our appreciation of what is going on in order to see anything in the clutter.


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Earlier we spoke of plot in terms of Types. We also speak of plot here in terms of four resolutions: Acts, Sequences, Scenes, and Events. Both of these perspectives are valid appreciations depending on the purpose at hand. Because all units in Dramatica are related holographically, no single point of view can completely describe the model. That is why we select the most appropriate view to the purpose at hand. However, these dynamics are not truly part of the scene, but merely in the scene. An Act, Sequence, Scene, or Event is really a temporal container — a box made out of time that holds dynamics within its bounds.

At the scene resolution, the effects of Types and Variations can be felt like the tidal pull of some distant moon.


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  4. But scenes are not the resolution at which to control those forces. Scenes are containers that hold Elements — anything larger cannot get crammed in without breaking. So the richness we feel in scenes is not solely due to what the scene itself contains, but also to the overall impact of what is happening at several larger scales. What then does a scene contain? A room in Elsinore castle. Act 3, Scene 1 Scene 1 Elsinore. Act 3, Scene 2 Scene 2 Elsinore.

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    A hall in Elsinore castle. Act 3, Scene 3 Scene 3 Elsinore. King; Rosencrantz; Guildenstern; Polonius; Hamlet. Act 3, Scene 4 Scene 4 Elsinore. Queen Gertrude; Polonius; Hamlet; Ghost. Act 4, Scene 1 Scene 1 Elsinore. King; Queen; Rosencrantz; Guildenstern.

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    Act 4, Scene 2 Scene 2 Elsinore. Another room in Elsinore castle. Act 4, Scene 3 Scene 3 Elsinore. A scene beginning needs to move fairly quickly and, on occasion, summary will get the reader there faster. Sometimes information needs to be imparted simply in order to set action in motion later in the scene. Coma victims, elderly characters, small children and other characters sometimes cannot speak or act for physical, mental or emotional reasons; therefore the scene may need to launch with narration to let the reader know what they think and feel.

    This is often the case in books set in unusual, exotic or challenging locations such as snowy Himalayan mountains, lush islands or brutal desert climates. If the setting is going to bear dramatically on the characters and the plot, then there is every reason to let it lead into the scene that will follow. He becomes involved with an eccentric man whose isolated villa in the Greek countryside becomes the stage upon which the major drama of the novel unfolds.

    Therefore, it makes sense for him to launch a scene in this manner:. The sea stretched like a silk carpet across to the shadowy wall of mountains on the mainland to the west.

    Character Worksheets

    The reader needs to be able to see in detail the empty Greek countryside in which Nicholas becomes so isolated. It sets the scene for something beautiful and strange to happen, and Fowles does not disappoint. These final three methods can create an effective scenic launch:. If your character is deserted on an island, the reader needs to know the lay of the land.

    Any fruit trees in sight? Are there rocks, shelter or wild, roaming beasts? Say your scene opens in a jungle where your character is going to face danger; you can describe the scenery in language that conveys darkness, fear and mystery. Say you have a sad character walking through a residential neighborhood. The descriptions of the homes can reflect that sadness—houses can be in disrepair, with rotting wood and untended yards. You can use weather in the same way. A bright, powerfully sunny day can reflect a mood of great cheer in a character.