“I exhort you also to take part in the great combat, which is the combat of life, and greater than every other earthly conflict.” – Plato
In the rewrite, we seek to make our story as dynamic as possible by exploring the various ways our characters attempt to get what they want. Conflict arises when our characters’ attempts are met with obstacles – antagonistic forces that make them alter their approach. The back and forth interplay between protagonist and antagonist provides our scene with an arc.
As our work gets more specific in the rewrite, we tend to make discoveries that assist us in making the arc as dynamic as possible. For example, perhaps we have written a scene that begins with a man announcing to his wife that he wants a divorce, and by the end of the scene he is professing undying love. In the rewrite we might explore the specific beats that led him from threatening divorce to proclaiming his true love. Does the man simply turn on a dime? What prompts this reversal? How does he backpedal when he realizes how he lost her and must win her back? Is their relationship forever altered as a result of him dropping this bomb?
Each scene is informed by the scenes that precede it. By exploring the couple’s backstory and all that leads to this particular moment, we arm ourselves with information that informs the scene and make it as dynamic as possible.
We may want to explore these many possibilities through stream-of-consciousness writing in order to discover moments that bring the scene to life. What prompts the man to experience regret, beg forgiveness, rationalize his reason for seeking a divorce, demand an apology, experience doubt, reveal a secret, and suffer a crisis of faith? In short, what are all the ways we can explore the nature of the dilemma through the scene?
Notice how your scenes begin and end. Do they build in tension? Does something happen that reveals the characters in a new light? Can you make the scene more dynamic by exploring new ways for your characters to get what they want?