Sully is a good representation of how I want people to react when enthralled by a story I’ve written:
But more often than not, I get a reaction more like this:
Or at least, I did. I couldn’t understand why my writing produced these less-than-stellar responses. I had meticulously worded every sentence. I’d made sure there were exciting parts. I had parceled out backstory, setting, and exposition so the reader could understand what the heck was going on. So why did eyes glaze over while reading my book? Why did MY eyes glaze over while reading my own work?
The problem, I finally found out, was that my scenes didn’t turn.
I was cramming all that exposition in right out of the gate, so the reader knew absolutely everything … which meant there wasn’t anything to find out. The scenes were just tiny chronicles where the main character set out to do something and accomplished it with flying colors. Nothing ever happened that surprised him. And consequently, nothing ever happened to surprise the reader.
I wasn’t withholding information, and revealing it methodically.
I wasn’t letting the story spin in new directions. It was always chugging along the straightforward track where I’d dropped my reader.
I wasn’t letting my scenes TURN.
To illustrate what I mean, here’s an example of a great scene with a great turn from a wonderful movie: Beauty and the Beast
*Opening music that makes me want to cry from how beautiful it is*
“Once upon a time, in a faraway land a young prince lived in a shining castle…” (Action: Apparently the world takes action to make sure this prince lives a cushy existence.)
“Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was spoiled, selfish, and unkind.” (Reaction: And he acts like a brat anyway.)
“But then, one winter’s night, and old beggar woman came to the castle and offered a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold.” (Action)
“Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at the gift, and turned the old woman away.” (Reaction)
“But she warned him, not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within.” (Action)
“And when he dismissed her again …” (Reaction)
“The old woman’s ugliness melted away to reveal a beautiful enchantress.” (Action)
“The prince tried to apologize …” (Reaction)
“But it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart. And as punishment, she transformed him into a hideous beast and placed a powerful spell on the castle, and all who lived there.” (Action)
“Ashamed of his monstrous form, the beast concealed himself inside his castle, with a magic mirror as his only window to the outside world.” (Reaction)
“The rose she had offered was truly an enchanted rose, that would bloom until his 21st year. If he could learn to love another, and earn their love in return, by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time.” (Action)
“As the years passed, he fell into despair, and lost all hope.” (Reaction)
“For who could ever learn to love a beast?”
Turn: The 6th beat is the turn. The story has spun in a new direction, the direction the WHOLE STORY will motor towards.
Revelation: There’s the big one of the scene turn, but I love how every action and reaction in this prologue feels like a revelation. Each one feels like it could be a scene on it’s own, but it’s told in a just few words, with beautiful imagery. There’s no fluff in this, nothing unnecessary, everything is perfectly needed. (Sorry, I just really love this opening. I can remember sitting in my little wicker rocking chair when I was four watching this in awe. This movie is one of the reasons I’m story obsessed.)
NOW let’s remove all curiosity and surprise from this scene.
We’ll take away the atmosphere of “all is not as it seems”, the “seeking and learning significant information” feeling, the sense that we’re climbing to something significant. Instead of withholding and revealing snippets of information, after gradual beat-by-beat escalation of curiosity, we’ll dump all information right away. We’ll take this beautiful scene, and make it distinctly not a scene by removing all traces of a turn.
So! The purpose of this “section” of story is to communicate necessary information. What info? The guy used to be a terrible prince. Someone cursed him to be a beast. His castle and the people who live there are also cursed. He’s got a rose that will bloom until he’s 21. He’s supposed to fall in love with someone and get that person to love him back. Or he’s going to be a beast forevermore. So, let’s give it a whirl.
Let’s say it opens up on Lumiere and the Beast. They’re just hanging out in the West Wing, the Beast watching the rose sparkle, Lumiere extinguishing and reigniting his left candle/hand for something to do.
LUMIERE: “So Master, it’s been years since you were turned into a beast and the castle staff was turned into objects.”
L: “I wish you hadn’t have upset that enchantress, and been a bit kinder.”
B: “Me too. Don’t know how.”
L: “Now our only hope to return to our human forms, is if you fall in love and get that person to fall in love with you.”
B: *Noncommittal grunt*
L: “Better happen soon, before that last petal on the magical rose falls. When you turn 21, it’s going to fall. And if you haven’t learned to love by then, well, we’re stuck.”
B: “I’m aware."
Well, that was extraordinarily awful.
So what about these scenes is different? (Besides one being a work of art and the other being agony in text form.)
– One withholds information and reveals it slowly, turning the story at the end.
– One is just an info dump.
So how can a turn be accomplished? There are four types of turns:
– Amplified Curiosity
– New Insight
– Spin in New Direction
A SURPRISE turn is the difference between what the character expects and what actually happens, surprising them, surprising the reader/audience that is enthralled by your story. A CURIOSITY turn is when a new mystery is presented to the reader, increasing their drive to find out what happens next. An INSIGHT one is when a scene ends by solving a mystery, answering a question that the audience has been wondering about. And a SPIN is just that, a turn that jolts the story into a new unexpected direction.
And how do they work in a scene?
The turn happens at the end. It’s the point of the scene. Everything’s leading to it. Think of it as the period punctuation mark on the end of the sentence that is your scene. But really your reader is anticipating that turn throughout the scene. It’s this anticipation and “gradual illumination” that’s crucial to a story turn. This is the wonderful curious feeling that keeps us turning pages. That sense that “all is not as it seems, and if I keep reading I’ll find out the truth.” which is so intoxicating. And this is accomplished with beats, the exchanges of action and reaction, each acting like a escalation on a roller coaster, each increasing anticipation for the drop.
Turns and revelation anticipation are rather magical when you think about it. They really are (as Robert McKee says) the substance of story. (Or they’re magical to me. I said I was obsessed. Blame this movie!)
Now I’m going to go watch Beauty and the Beast again.
Sibling Intervention (Jasper Hale x Reader) w/Brother! Emmett
Plot: “Hi I really liked your Jasper imagine so can you do another one where you’re his newborn mate, and the wolf pack are coming over to help train and him and Emmett get protective over you? Like the whole “I’m your big brother and I’m supposed to keep you away from the mutts” kinda thing lol. Thank uuuu” (requested)
Word Count: 1,275
Warnings: I think some swearing, but other than that, none.
A/N: this was really fun to make, I’m actually kinda proud if this one! Thanks to the anon that requested this! I hope you like it.
I was standing next to Jasper who was grabbing my hand and squeezing it at times to reassure me and I knew that he was trying to calm me down and it was working perfectly as I was no longer nervous or afraid.
“Well, Jasper has experience in newborns, he will teach us how to defeat them” Carlisle’s calm voice sounded through the forest, he was standing a little bit further than us facing the wolves who just came.
Silence surrounded us once again but Edward’s voice filled the empty space quickly.
“They want to know how a newborn is different than us”
Carlisle turned a little and looked at me smiling a little like if he was asking if it was okay to introduce me, I just nodded.
“Well, we happen to have one with us today” He positioned himself next to me and place a hand on my shoulder “This is (Y/N), she is Jasper’s mate, our newest member of the family, hence why her eyes are different from us but don’t worry, she is transitioning and will be just like us soon”
“They still want to know the difference, they say she looks just like us” I wasn’t even looking but I knew that Emmett was grinning on his spot; he was the one that enjoyed the most me being a newborn and having my strength.
Carlisle looked at Jasper and motioned him to continue speaking while he left to go back next to Esme; Jasper nodded and moved a little closer but still holding my hand.
“She is stronger than us; her blood is still on her tissues making her more physically powerful. Our kind is stronger on our first several months of this life, that’s why they are created” he looked at me and gave me a side smile “not in her case though” he looked again at the wolves “a newborn army doesn’t need thousands like a human army, that’s why no human army could stand against them”
The black wolf that was standing right in from of me growled, his eyes never leaving mine. Jasper noticed that so he moved to a side pushing me slightly backward but I was still close to him.
“There are two important things that you have to remember” he raised his voice a bit “First, never let them get their arms around you, they will crush you in a second” he looked around giving a warning look to our family but turned back to see the wolves “and never go for the obvious kill, they will be expecting that and you’ll lose”
He quickly turned and grabbed my hand again but left me next to Edward as he kept walking forward to the center of the forest.
“Emmett” he simply called and in a second Emmett was standing a couple of meters away from him but still facing Jasper. “Don’t hold back”
“Not in my nature” he said and grinned at Jasper before launching himself onto him but in a couple of seconds, Emmett was lying on the floor, his face facing the sky.
“Never lose focus” he cockily said while moving aside from him and coming to my side to snake his arm on my waist and pulled me closer to him. “Prepare yourself, babe, you are next”
I only smiled in anticipation, I loved wrestling, I became one of my favorite hobbies once I turned, and it just was really fun for me. Even though I knew he wasn’t completely okay with the fact that I was fighting today it was just to train, I knew he wouldn’t let me participate when the actual fight took place, so I just wanted to have fun.
Edward and Carlisle were fighting intensely, neither of them backing off; Jasper let go of me and started walking around them inspecting every movement, but at the end, Edward was the clear winner and turned to see Jasper.
“One more thing” he said and in an instant Carlisle grabbed Edward and pushed him onto the ground and I couldn’t help but laugh at this. “Never turn your back on the enemy”
Jasper made his way to the center and spoke to everyone once again.
“Okay, so now that we got the basics covered, it’s time for a real newborn to step in” He said and turned his head to look at me, giving me a cocky smile which I returned with a huge grin. I knew this was going to be extremely easy for me, but anyway it was fun. I made my way next to him, and he cupped my face with one hand and looked at me profoundly before walking away next to the rest of the family.
I turned and looked at Rosalie, bringing my hand up and pointing my fingers at her I motioned her to come with me, she slowly made her way towards me with her arms crossed against her chest.
Once she was close enough I nodded and she quickly threw two punches at me which I easily dodged them taking my opportunity to grab her arm and twisted it forcing her body to twist as well but she felt to the ground crouching in one leg and tried to make me fall with the leg that was stretched but I jumped before it could even touch me, and before my feet touched the ground I pushed my hand over her chest making her fall flat on the ground, making a small crater when she hit the ground.
“You can’t still beat me, Rose” I laughed at her while she was standing up, she just gave me a ‘fuck off’ look and made her way back to her spot.
“Emmett, your turn” Jasper called out and in a quick second I had Emmett in front of my with a shit eating grin that made me laugh.
“Please don’t you dare to hold back, big boy” I purred to him tilting my head a little. He cracked his neck just to show off but his face changed almost immediately making me furrow my eyebrows together.
“Wait a minute” he said raising a hand like stopping everything and stared into nothing as if he was thinking to himself “I’m your big brother (YN)” he suddenly stated and I couldn’t be more confused.
“Well, yeah…” I trailed off, not really sure where he was trying to say.
“I’m not supposed to encourage you into fighting, even less with the mutts” he spat and looked at me with a serious face “Goddammit, I’m your big brother!” he stated again but now shouting and I looked at the rest of the clan but they all had the same face, they were staring at Emmett with a confused grin like I was. “We are done, missy, you are going home”
In less than a second, I was thrown into his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and he was walking away from everyone.
“Wait, what the actual fuck, put me down!” I tried to wiggle out but even if I was stronger this position didn’t help me at all, and all I could do was to give up and just look back where Carlisle was standing next to Jasper shouting to Emmett.
“Emmett, bring her back, we need her!” Carlisle shouted at us.
“Sorry, I can’t hear you!” and with that, he started running with me on his back.
“We are going to be siblings, you said, it will be so fun, you said” I said but the only response that I had from him was a loud laugh; I sighed, I give up.