It was by complete accident that last month carried a theme for advice on the effects of writing on the body. I kind of liked that. So, for this month, I've given some thought as to what makes stories so enduring, or not so much. Welcome, fellow readers, to Memorable March.
In every story, there are scenes where events take place, serving to build character and/or move the plot. Some are quite simple, like a conversation while walking across the countryside. Others are complicated, like epic battles where thousands are involved. Then there are those that leave a lasting impression. An excellent example of this is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I know, Christmas is over, but you can't argue that just about every scene in that novelette is so singular and moving that the work itself is not easy to forget. The scene that holds fast to me is Marley's Ghost. It's eerie, it lays out the rest of the story and presents a moral that's not preachy. Marley doesn't say, "You must change your ways or you will become like me!" but rather, "This is my fate. Yours will be like mine, possibly worse. You have this chance to change that." In the end, Marley left Scrooge with a choice, not a guilt trip.
To make scenes memorable, at least three key things are necessary: description, character and uniqueness. In Patrica C. Wrede's The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, there's a scene in a witch's house with lots of cats and a door that reveals different locations every time it's opened. The setting is described so well that I can visualize the entire scene. The characters are fun, their interaction is engaging and the situation is unique. What I mean by unique is how the scene applies to the story as a whole. Does it carry the plot or is it an anecdote? If a scene serves no purpose but to show off your writing, readers may not feel inclined to turn the page.
Drafting scenes are great fun and the possibilities are endless. Make your reader feel welcome. Give them a place where they won't mind visiting again. Better yet, make them want to visit again. Being published is great (I'm sure), but being read is far more important.
What makes a scene hold fast to you?
I'm David, and there's a birthday today (not mine).