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Scene shifting

I’m still a little dizzy after seeing the movie Inception yesterday. I tried hard to keep each thread of the story straight, but ended up in a tangle. To me, dreams within dreams within dreams … was more confusing than time travel. (Or maybe I was just too distracted by how much Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks like Heath Ledger.) And what about that ending that doesn’t end—did it topple or not? Nonetheless, I felt satisfied with the experience.

I’d like to know how they crafted the Inception storyline. I can’t imagine it was written the way it played out. I would write each dream/reality sequence  chronologically and then shift and intertwine them. But what do I know? I have never, and don’t think I could, write a story like that. Not just because it’s so complicated, but also because I don’t have the kind of writer’s mind for mystery/thrillers. My latest chapter revision is difficult enough.

At my last critique group meeting, we agreed I should rearrange the order of all the scenes in my new opening chapter. On Friday, I printed out the chapter and cut the scenes apart. It looked an impossible puzzle with all the scenes spread out on the table. My first attempt at reordering was a mess; the second was better, and on the third try it fell into place … I think. Then I used a glue stick to put the scenes back together in a new order. Now I’ll have to write new connecting narrative between these scenes.

Another suggestion from my C.P.s was that I might be trying to fit too much information in one chapter, so I’ll be considering that too. All this is good. Deep down, I felt I’d started this novel wrong. Now I’m correcting that. Next up will be a query letter revision. Fun, fun, fun … not.

Your turn: What will you be working on this week?

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21 thoughts on “Scene shifting”

  1. Hilarious – I too did a post after seeing inception with the same photo!! lol. must affect us writers in some way. dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams (4 levels, yes?)

    Did you ever imagine that novel writing was like a puzzle when you began writing? I certainly did not, juggling all these pieces and becoming artists’ in the way or arranging our own work to view it analytically.
    Good luck with it all… for me, my edits continue….


    1. Did you? I think I missed that one, Jennifer. Or maybe I did on purpose because I hadn’t seen the movie yet. I’ll go look now.

      No, I didn’t realize writing was so “puzzling.” There are so many levels to a story to work on. You know, I just found out that each dream level in Inception was filmed with its own color scheme to help you keep track. I want to see it again.

      Good luck with your edits too. 🙂


  2. Ooooh! This is just the kind of fun puzzle-working I love! That sounds difficult and fun, and I like your (very literal) cut-and-paste method. Inception was an amazing movie, and I would also like to know how they wrote the thing. Very impressive.

    Like Jennifer, my edits continue. However: I’m nearing what appears to be the end of this draft! (Finally.) My charts tell me I’m at 87%, though that may be inaccurate depending on whether I add or cut scenes. Either way, I’m getting close. Best case scenario, I’d finish the draft this week, before we leave for the Bahamas. Worst case scenario, I work as hard as possible this week, go away for the next week, and come back with a clear (or clearly distracted…) head to finish whatever’s left. Either way, I’m excited!! 🙂


    1. Did you catch that each dream level of Inception had its own color scheme? Sort of like your colored marker editing. 😉

      I hope you get your edits done this week so you won’t have them on your mind when you leave on vacation. Of course, I’m sure the Bahamas would soon distract you. 🙂


  3. I must be one of 3 people on the planet who has not yet seen Inception, now I’m even more curious.

    It will be interesting to hear how your re-ordering goes, I can re-order scenes using index cards, but haven’t tried actually cutting up the manuscript.

    What will I be working on? After 8 months of personal, professional & writing upheaval, I’ll be getting my writing goals and schedule back on track – September 1.


    1. I think you’d enjoy it, Cathryn. I’m not sure how much of it I followed, but I loved it anyway. 😀

      I could have used index cards, or even cut and paste within Word, but there are only four scenes in the chapter and two have to stay together. So I just wanted to see them reordered to get an idea how much I would need to write to reconnect them. I thought that might also help me decide whether I could, or should, divide this into two chapters.

      Yay for you, getting back on track! Good luck.


      1. Re-ordering of scenes is like piecing a puzzle together – and, what a great feeling when it all falls into place.

        Like you, Linda, I prefer the hands on feel of cutting and pasting. I seem to get a better visual that way. I’m trying the notecard method with the novel I’m working on now, but I can’t quite get into it. After reading your post, I may just go back to scissors and tape.

        Also, Becky Levine recommended a book for first chapters called Hooked by Les Edgerton. I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet, but if it’s a recommendation from Becky, I’m sure it’s good.

        What I’m working on this week? Getting my writing routine set in place. I manage on Wednesdays, but the other days of the week I’m still floundering. I have a long list of to-do’s though! 🙂


        1. I just I read the first five pages of that book on Amazon, Christi. He starts out with explaining why the “old’ story structure doesn’t work in today’s market, which, though most likely true, dismays me. I’m reading “Book of Ruth” Jane Hamilton’s debut novel (published in 1988) which is evidently an “old” book because it’s opening does everything Edgerton says won’t work today. *Sigh* I should have written Brevity twenty years ago.

          Good luck on working out your schedule to include enough writing time. I suppose if I had more life outside of writing, I’d have to develop a routine too. 🙂


  4. I have decided to go through my MS again. Enough time has passed that another read may reveal that the cake is still wet in the middle. I am tired of it. I’d rather do anything else.

    Thank you for sharing your movie experience. I cannot get out to movies but I’ve heard much about this one. Something about all that I hear makes me think of the Emperor’s new clothes. No one seems to understand it but everyone says they will watch it again until they do. Your review of it was fair and honest.


    1. Carol, I didn’t feel Inception was the emperor’s new clothes at all. There is a clear story goal; it’s how that goal is reached that’s intriguing, though somewhat confusing. I loved it.

      I sympathize. There was a point where I really did not want to read my novel again, but taking a couple weeks off was enough to renew my interest. After I finish this new opening chapter (or chapters), I plan to read it again straight through. I’ve not read the other chapters for a few months now, so I think I’ll enjoy it.


      1. I haven’t heard anyone give Inception a bad word. Everyone that said anything said they liked it and would see it again. Thanks for the encouragement on getting into the mood to revisit my MS.


  5. I’m so not with it that I had never even heard of the film…oops….
    Regarding having to fit scenes together, I have always thought my novel was like this giant jigzaw puzzle. After the last massive edit/re-write I am finally happy with it all but all I need now is to expand some chapters as they are a bit short. Other than that, I love it 🙂


    1. I guess each novel is different, Alannah. This one came to me pretty much in order, so this is my first experience in shifting scenes around. Maybe I did more outlining than I realized. 😉

      Great to hear your happy with your novel. 🙂


      1. I learnt a great lesson, one that stubborn me had refused to pay attention first: Do outline FIRST
        I’m an expert at shifting things around oh dear, I’ve done it too much…bleh

        Been meaning to say, I LOVE your new avatar photo. I must get around to putting up my own photo around sometime when I can manage to find a decent photo that doesn’t scare children ha ha


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