Fictional time usually unfolds in either scene or sequel. Sequels are also known as summaries.
Scenes are generally short, occur in real story time, and include action and dialogue. Scenes are necessary! They are how your reader experiences the story through your character’s eyes. Scenes are significant to the movement of the story—crises, turning points, showdowns and tension between characters happen during them.
Here is an example of a small scene from a novel in progress:
Rowan dug into the stew. She stopped as soon as the food entered her mouth. “What is this?”
“Venison,” Moss said.
“Venison, you mean like deer? What store carries deer?”
“I shot, dressed, and froze it.”
“You shot it? An innocent deer?” She set down her spoon. “How could you do that?”
“Rowan!” her mother said. “Where are your manners?”
“Where is his … his kindness?” She frowned hard in his direction. Moss tried to keep a straight face.
Carolina shook her head at her daughter, but didn’t say anything.
“Do you eat meat at home?” Moss asked.
Rowan twisted her spoon in the stew. “Yeah.”
“Well, how do you think it got on your plate? Did it walk there of its own accord?”
Sequels often describe in narrative form (no dialogue), the character’s reflection on the scene that just occurred, or may cover a longer period of time. Sequels may also give the reader character background, provide overall story information, and perhaps most important, transition the reader through time: a short leap (such as Two days later,) or decades.
Here’s a short sequel from a different point in the story:
In moments like these, Carolina admitted to herself that she was hungering for a partner again. She longed for the day-to-day rubbing elbows, conferring about small decisions, bumping into each other as they invented some new concoction in the kitchen. She hardly ever let herself think about it, but she missed Rafe. Badly. Missed him in that secret chamber of her heart, but she’d slammed the door shut from the blunt-force trauma of losing him. Rafe. Oh, Rafe. If only he could see Rowan now. Rowan missed him too—he’d died when she was seven. Of flu. How could a strong, young man just up and die of flu?
This sequel is through the awareness of one of the main characters, but there is neither dialogue nor significant action. It simply relays information so the reader knows Carolina’s history better.
© Skye Blaine, 2015