SUMMARY: Ed Wilson talks about the use of scenes when writing.
One of the things I always incorporate in my outlines are scenes. I may not always call it a scene, but it serves the same purpose. The organizational levels, for me, work out like the following:
- Opening paragraph
- Middle paragraphs
- Closing Paragraph
Obviously, this is a hierarchical relationship. One book, many chapters. One chapter, many scenes, and so on, until the close of the chapter where I have the transition to the next chapter. Also, there are transitions between scenes as well. In the case of a series of books, there are even transitions between books. Think of the way the James Bond movies ended with James Bond will back in ….. at the close of the final scene.
Now, all this also applies to writing technical publications as well as when writing fiction. Think about the way a technical book is structured. A reader is going along, and suddenly they are struck with, “Why am I reading this? How will this help me? What is the point of all this crap?” Well, I can tell you if that is your readers reaction, you are on the verge of loosing your reader. By using a few fiction techniques, you can easily forestall this by using a little foreshadowing. For example, “This might not make sense right now, but in chapter 12 we will tie all this together.” Or, “I know you are tempted to skip over all this detail, but I found it to be useful when I am doing such and such if I know how this all ties together.
So, each unit inside the chapter sits like a scene. Think about movies, they are made up of scenes. The location changes, the people change, they bring in background information, or they setup a huge finally, all of these are functions of scenes. This is also true inside technical writing. For example, in a chapter about a particular topic, think of the three or four or five main points that are crucial in understanding this topic. In my outline, these are the capital letter headings (the chapters are the roman numerals). It is just like I learned in high school, if I have an A there must be a B, if I have a 1 there must be a 2. This structure is useful in helping to plan the material. Also, if I feel that there is no 2, then it causes me to re-evaluate my subject. There must be a 2, there is always something else that pertains to a subject that helps understanding. If nothing else, in technical writing, I can always add “Practical considerations”