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Scene Diagnostics Practice

based on The Boss and the Baby, by Leigh Michaels Copyright 1999. All rights reserved. 

Chapter (  1 )      Scene number (   1   )

Duration of scene in pages  (   7 double-spaced manuscript; 2,000 words )      Duration in story time  ( 1 hr  )

1. Who is the viewpoint character? Molly Matthews, heroine

2. Which characters are present? Molly. Daughter Bailey. Sister Megan. Mother Alix. Warren Hudson (by reference.)

3. Which major characters are absent? Luke Hudson (hero). Molly’s father. Lucky the dog.

4. If both hero and heroine are not present throughout the scene, how long have they been separated? N/A. (Hero appears in next scene.)

5. What is the main goal of this scene? Establish the foundation of the story: Molly’s new start, new business, dependence on parents.

6. In what other ways could this information be given to the reader? Would these ways be clearer/better/more straightforward? Dialogue with sister (why she came home). Dialogue (phone call) with old friend who misses her. Both would have taken longer. Talking to Megan would violate Molly’s character (she doesn’t share info easily, especially with Megan). Talking to old friend would put more emphasis on the friendship than it deserves in the context of the story (there is no old-friend character.)

7. What are the secondary goals of this scene? Introduce Bailey; Megan, Alix. Show the newness of the situation ("it’s only been four days"). Establish the scene (the lake is important to the rest of the story). Make clear that Molly’s on her own, without significant help from an ex-husband/Bailey’s father. Show the tension between the sisters. Show Megan as a brittle socialite with no maternal feelings. Show the tension between Molly and Alix. Show Alix as a cold and formal woman. Show Molly as a harried but dutiful daughter who won’t argue with her mother when she’s indebted to her. Hint at the divorce, and the fact that Molly isn’t happy about the story. Show the bruise on Molly’s cheek and introduce doubt about Molly’s explanation of it.

8. In what other ways could this information be given to the reader? Would these ways be clearer/better/more straightforward? Straight description of Megan and Alix. Narration. Molly internalizing about her feelings re Megan and Alix. Have Alix or Megan go into detail about the situation with divorce/ex/Bailey’s father.

9. Does the opening paragraph establish time, place, and viewpoint character? What methods does it use to do so? Contemporary time--from the clothes. Place--guest room. Character--named.

10. Do the closing paragraphs draw the reader into the next scene? What methods does it use to do so? Yes, by making it clear how important the next scene--the interview--is to Molly’s life.

11. What is the tone of this scene? How does the tone compare to the preceding scene? To the following scene? Edgy. No previous scene. Following scene is important and there’s tension, but not the on-the-edge quality of the first one.

12. What is the pace of this scene? How does the pace compare to the preceding scene? To the following scene? Moderate. No previous scene. Next scene is also moderately paced.

13. Does this scene add to or detract from the forward movement of the story? Adds.

14. Is this scene necessary? Yes.

The Boss and the Baby was a finalist in the Romance Writers of America RITA contest for best traditional romance.

This exercise is copyrighted material and is offered for the individual's own use. Further distribution or sale is not permitted without permission of the copyright holder. Copyright 2013 Leigh Michaels.

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