Four P’s in a Pod

Ever try to stab a pile of peas with a fork? Inevitably, a few green roly-polys fly off your plate and plummet to the floor. It’s a horrible way for a pea to go.

And even worse when it happens to one of your scenes.

Track with me here. You’re writing along la-de-dah-de-dah and wham! An invisible pitchfork skewers your brain, and the words go flying right out of your head. You have no idea what to write next. And the longer you sit there, the more you wonder if the words you’ve already written even have a point.

Don’t panic. Be proactive. Mind your P’s and…umm…P’s! Four of them to be exact: POV, Plan, Purpose, Page Turner. Try the following handy-dandy trick at the beginning of each scene to keep your writing on track.

POV (Point of View): This is the easiest P of all. Simply jot down from which character’s perspective your reader will experience the scene.

Plan: An architect needs a blueprint to construct a building that’s stable and functional. A writer needs one, too. This step is exactly what the label implies. Plan out the sequence of action for the scene, including setting and who’s involved.

Purpose: If your scene doesn’t have a purpose other than back story or description, then toss it out. A well told story is one that takes the reader by the hand and pulls them along, always moving forward.

Page Turner: a.k.a. Cliff Hanger. This doesn’t have to be a literal hero dangling by his hangnails from a ledge. Simply put, the goal of every scene, especially the last few sentences, is to leave the reader begging for more. Physical action is the most tangible way to accomplish this, but it doesn’t have to be. Emotional or spiritual conflicts are great ways to make a reader wonder what will happen as well.

Pulling It Together: At the beginning of each scene, simply satisfy each of these “P’s” before starting to write fresh copy. Here’s an example of how all this pulls together (taken from my current WIP):

POV: Nicholas Brentwood

Plan: Ballroom scene / Nicholas allows Emily to dance with Henley, though he doesn’t like it one bit / Shadwell asks Emily’s friend Bella to dance, but Bella says she’s already dancing with Nicholas / Nicholas is about to protest when he realizes not only will he be doing Bella a favor by saving her from dancing with Shadwell, but he’ll have a much better view of Emily on the dance floor himself / While out dancing, he loses sight of Emily and rushes out to look for her / He searches upstairs, downstairs, everywhere, but merely turns up Emily’s scare-rific ‘friend’ Millie, the one who’s been trying to snag him / he tries to evade her, until her parting words make him stop and turn around

Purpose: Hypes up Nicholas’s concern for Emily / Provides an opportunity for the next clue as to what happened to Mr. Payne

Page Turner: Millie’s parting words, “I know what happened to Mr. Payne.”

There you have it. It’s really that simple. By thinking through the four “P’s” ahead of time, words will roll right off your fingertips and appear on your screen, which technically crams one more P in the ol’ writing pod…

Productivity.

How will you use the four “P” technique this week in your writing? What other techniques do you have that keep the words flowing?

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13 thoughts on “Four P’s in a Pod

  1. Excellent advice, and Michelle uses her own to create wonderful fiction. I know. I’m her crit partner. ;o) And I LOVE this way of approaching a scene.

    • All your “what-in-the-world-is-the-point-of-this-scene” comments forced me to come up with such gadgetry…to which I say a hearty thank you, Anie girl!

  2. Thanks so much for this post…it has helped to give me clarity as I’m on the last 5-6 chapters of my book:-) Still learning how to consistently move the story forward!

  3. Pingback: Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, June 4, 2012 « cochisewriters

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