November 27th, 2005

View from study (sunny)

Scenes and character goals and Bickham

The discussion on rasfc about scenes and Bickham continues, so I'm copying my thoughts here again for easier access.Collapse )

Jonathan replied:
Fine. I'm sure it would work wonderfully well for quest novels, too.

To which I said:
It works extraordinarily well for David Lodge's Thinks... too, which is a literary novel about adultery in academia. At least I can analyse the book in Bickham terms, even though I'm sure he didn't use Bickham to structure his novel.

This is because what Bickham describes is not something he's just invented. It's a universal recipe for stories which he just happens to have presented in a restrictive (but accessible) form. His rigid definition enabled me to see the universal underlying pattern. That's how I could analyse Nicky's Hunted in Bickham terms even though she most definitely did not use his way of thinking when writing the story. It just came out that way because what we think of as a satisfactory story follows that pattern.

I think there's some confusion about what, exactly, the Bickham Scene/Sequel pattern applies to. One doesn't analyse the writing using Bickham; you analyse the underlying story. I was talking in another post about there being two layers to a story. After reading Patricia's reply, which indicated that I hadn't quite explained things as clearly as I meant to, I realised that I now see stories in 3 layers:Collapse )

But I'll let Bickham have the last word.

"By giving you some further insights into the kind of strategic planning that goes into one kind of book, I may help you find your way more clearly to ideas about how you should best use scenes and sequels to achieve certain effects and produce the kind of book that exists in your mind somewhere as an ideal, whether you previously realised it or not." [My emphasis]