Sunday, December 9, 2007

Emotional 180

Inquiring minds want to know what an emotional 180 is.  I think we've mentioned this before, and Mark may remember as soon as I mention scene arch, but it bears repeating.

There are lots of ways to approach story writing.  Although I'm one of those touchy-feelie 'let the story unfold as it will' types that shrinks away from outlining, I do prefer to use technical devices as much as possible, especially when I'm doing something that's not my favorite thing, like editing.  One of my faves, and I do it mostly when editing although like Ris when I'm stuck I try to do it while writing too, is to make a 180 degree change in the scene.  

An emotional 180, therefore, would be with the pov character or the emotional tone of the scene starting out, say, sad, but by the end of the scene (or story) the character or tone is happy.  Other 180's:  You can also begin with action, and end with reflection (or sleep,) start with dreary rain and end with sunshine, start with broad narration and end with tight, focused pov or dialogue, or all visa versa.

When push comes to shove, though, even if you're playing with setting or plot when you're turning these 180's, you're making emotional impact on the characters and therefore (hopefully) with the audience.  Without changing the emotions in scenes and stories, the work ends up reading like a monotone.  
The stronger the emotional changes, the more vibrant the work is, so it's worth your while to seek the opposite whenever you can.  
If you only make it partway toward a major change, that'll do.  It never works to force something.  But often that 180 comes about naturally because of the climactic cycle.  The climax in a scene or a story is also called the turning point, and that turning point has to have major emotional impact to be effective.


Ris said...

Thanks for answering Mark's question, Kami! Only fitting, since you're the one who introduced me to the concept to begin with.

Mark said...

In the immortal words of Sgt. Schultz in Stalag 17, "Ah so!"

All has become clear. Thanks.