Color-Coded Scenes

Learning to layer scenes, can be a long process, full of revision and lots of trial-and-error. The critique group I facilitate often finds creative and interesting answers to common problems, and today one member explained her method of scene layering. She created a color code for different scenic elements. Then when she begins her rewrite, she can refer to the colors to chart how “layered” her scene has become. Clever, indeed!
Writing Tip for Today: Like many writers, my student tends to draft her scenes mainly through dialogue, a very common way to rough out or block a scene. But we all know that leaving a scene that way results in talking heads without the corresponding action, internal emotions/thoughts, body language and setting that completes the continuous fictional dream. If you assign a color for each of these areas, you’ll be able to see at a glance how “real” or complete your scene is. When you begin your revision of the dialogue-heavy junked-out draft, you can use the color code to help you balance the scene with these other essential elements. A brief review might help:
The Eleven Elements of a Scene: 1) a POV (point of view) 2)Character(s) 3)Setting 4) Time Barrier 5)Purpose for the scene 6) Sight 7) Sound 8)Taste 9) Smell 10) Touch and 11) the Quality of Light.
Try color coding for the elements you tend to leave out of your first drafts. Remember, this is a left-brain type activity, so use it when editing or revising.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

2 comments on “Color-Coded Scenes

  1. awesome post as usual linda… i feel like i should copy the info for the next time i get into writing a scene… oh yeah, and the new title makes alot of sense… yo

  2. This is very interesting and I was wondering if you might be able to tell me if you know of any links that expand on this technique. I recently saw one and didn’t bookmark it and I’ve been searching everywhere for more info. This is a great start. thank you 🙂

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