This week, I participated in J. Thorn’s Supercharge your Scene 5-day challenge. I sawit flagged by my mate Steff Green—herself a wildly successful author—and in the spirit of opening myself to my creativity decided to give it a whirl.
What the hell, I thought. It’s been forever since I’ve learned something new in this space. So I threw my hat in the ring with gusto.
The Challenge was based on Thorn’s Three Story Method, which I haven’t read. But I loved this week so much that I’ve added his book to my wishlist.
What did the challenge require?
This Challenge pushed participants to become highly intentional about the scene. In doing so, participants were asked to define:
- the plot
- the thing you’re trying to say about life
- what the protagonist and antagonist want
- what the protagonist and antagonist need
- the thing that’s wrong with the protagonist’s world
- the conflict
- the choice
- the consequence.
On each of the five days, participants received a video lesson that explained how to approach that day’s components. Those who are on Facebook could also access a live video with the ability to ask questions. Though to be honest, it’s not necessary. I found the videos and email to be perfectly sufficient.
Accompanying the week was a worksheet. Each day had homework, which was to complete a section of the worksheet.
Here’s what my experience was like
While the homework was small and didn’t take much time, what I found was that it required effort. This is exactly why the space between each part of this week’s learning was so valuable.
Coming into this Challenge, I had no idea what I was going to write. When I read through the prompts, the last thing I wanted to do was to use them as written. I felt that the scene could be completed using the concept; but it turned out that the point was to use the prompt (or multiple prompts) as written. This was one of the constraints.
The second constraint was the word limit on the scene itself. With the scene set at 2000 words, the point was to hit the target.
Now, for someone like me—whose scenes are always short—getting to 2000 was more of a challenge than writing the scene itself. I had to approach this as a short story, because my scenes can be as short as 500 words. This is one of the challenges of being a competent flash fiction writer: Extending yourself really does feel like e-x-t-e-n-d-i-n-g yourself!
However, I girded my loins and continued.
What I found is that, as the week went on, my thinking about the scene shifted and changed; my homework became a scrawl of notes and changes; and the idea of what to write about as the final piece—the scene itself—unfolded without my having to do a lot of work.
By the time I sat down today to write and submit it, the scene had become a potential inclusion in The Integration Project of either book 2 or 3, but with the prompt entirely intact. When I say, ‘entirely intact’, I mean ‘almost exactly as provided’.
The key things I took away from this week’s learning
The key lessons I took away from this week’s challenge were:
- to make sure that the Conflict, the Choice and the Consequence are present at every level of the narrative (beats, scenes, sequences, acts)
- the benefits of deeply understanding the shift in all of the forces at play and how they manipulate the story
- the ways in which the three Cs above (conflict, choice, consequence) can be manipulated either overtly or subtly, in order to engage readers in different ways.
It’s easy to fall into writing events, rather than crafting scenes. And for me that was a huge takeaway from the Challenge.
How I intend to use what I’ve learned
Working to such a high level of intentionality on just one scene for six days has been fantastic for extending my understanding of what I’m doing and why. Importantly, it’s given me an inkling into how this can enrich my plotting and planning process, particularly now that I’m working in series.
This is what I intend to do with the new knowledge; in fact, I am on the cusp of doing so. Just today I went and purchased two new pens, each in a colour different from my usual writing colour, so that I can mark for myself each of the components throughout the planning process.
My suspicion is that doing this will create a tighter, more effective, and more engaging read overall, and it will allow me to extend myself more efficiently in each scene.
Whether that happens remains to be seen, however. Subscribe to my Weekly Letter to hear about the outcome; you can do that below.
So where is this magical, supercharged scene of mine?
Lucky for you, I decided to publish it. You can read it here.
Did you enjoy this? Get The Letter and unlock even more:
1+ letters per month by either email (sign up below) or in your real-life letterbox (sign up here instead).