SCENE 21: Special Scenes: Set up big Scenes

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Preparing for a Big Scene

So, you know what your big scene is, but realize that some things need to be in place for the scene to work. Preparing for a big scene is important to its success. You can write the scene first, then go backwards and add in what’s needed to prepare the reader for it; or you can plan the whole thing. Either way, doesn’t matter; what matters is that in the final draft, you’ve done the preparation work for the big scene.

  • Foreshadowing
    Scene, characters, events, setting–you can foreshadow anything that will happen in a big scene, as long as it’s done with a light hand.

    For example, in the Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes back, Luke Skywalker is learning to be a Jedi warrior. Yoda insists he enter a cave, where he finds a vision of Darth Vader. Luke and Vadar fight in what is a foreshadowing scene of the real fight to come at the climax of the story. Here, Luke wins! But when he chops off Vader’s head and flips open the visor, he sees his own face. By allowing his anger to defeat Vader, he’s lost his own soul. Later when he fights Vader for real, he controls his anger, loses the battle–yet, saves his soul. Without the foreshadowing scene in the cave, we couldn’t really know what’s at stake.

  • Make clear what’s at stake. Make sure, as above that the reader knows the, “So what?” Why does this scene really matter. To do that, you may need smaller scenes that set this up.
  • Mini-conflicts come to a head. If the action in the big scene is big, it’s partly because that scene is a culmination of smaller conflicts that have come to a head. The big scene is “the last straw.”
  • Emotional Conflict. Likewise, you need to build the inner or emotional conflict and bring it to a head. Confusion, anticipation, anguish, worry–emotions escalating and coming to a head in the big scene are what you want. But those emotions must be set up in the smaller scenes.

In order for a big scene to be big, it must be set up. Have you done that yet?

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