Original Scene – I’m not sure how to approach this. I create motivation and a back story for my characters. I don’t write pages of backstory over and over as suggested in the exercise in the article. Do authors actually do this? Maybe once to get the feel for what they’re creating? Each time? I can’t imagine. I’m not trying to disagree with an obvious expert but …
Oh, Pepper, we can always disagree with experts here as we lounge poolside and sip our cyber Pina Coladas… 🙂 That’s what my classes are for.
I had the exact same reaction as you did. It sounded nuts. Then I sat and thought about it (since I’m not going to put something in my classes that I can’t at least marginally recommend) and I also considered where Cron is coming from (TV producer, literary agent). She’s used to fixing scene problems, plot problems, story problems. And I realized… I’ve done exactly what she suggested–to write a scene you’ll never use, a scene that’s totally backstory. I just didn’t call it the Origin Scene (her use of SCENE still bothers me). I called it… freewriting. Interviewing my characters. (Author Robin D Owens has blogged a lot on this. She’s also the one who can write chapters out of order. Maybe because she does this technique?)
I’m guessing you’ve probably done this, but not in quite that way. I have extensively interviewed some of my characters (not all, because I didn’t feel I had to). I’ve also written entire scenes/vignettes/short stories that pre-date the novel. I sometimes did that because I was stuck. I did it more often because it was fun, because I tend to fall in love with my characters and I want to spend more time with them, so I write vignettes that have nothing to do with the actual book, but are more like sitting down with my hero over a bottle of wine and saying, “Well, okay, I know there has to be more to this whole thing between you and Tasha… spill the beans.”
Some of THOSE little… whatever they are… have ended up (reworked) into short stories for anthologies. Or short stories I’ve gifted my readers with. Or there still sitting there, just for reference.
Now, keep in mind as well, I write SF so I have to do a crap-ton of world building. I have about forty pages (and building) on the Rathari (a humanoid alien race), some of which is, yes, kind of a dialogue with Dek, the MC. I also have an entire short story about him and the (human) female protagonist, Zahra, when they were teenagers, first kiss and all, pretty much a YA novella. I don’t write YA. But writing that novella has really helped.
But even if I didn’t do those things, I still wanted to pass her idea on. Because I know Robin D Owens and she does a lot of that stuff and she’s a prolific and wonderful writer. (I also know writers who plot using plot-boards and post-it notes, the very thought of which Gives Me Hives.) I’ve studied plotting methods. They make sense. I know they work. They suck the creativity out of me. But I will still recommend (and teach) basic plotting methods. Because for lots of writers, they work.
So, that’s my long answer, because Linnea rarely gives short answers, unless it’s the usual, “Oh, waiter, another Pina Colada, please?”
Make sense? Feel free to disagree.
//Interstellar Adventure Infused with Romance//