Writing Exercise - Practicing Slow-Motion Scenes

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					Writing Exercise - Practicing Slow-Motion Scenes
Sometimes a scene needs to be slowed-down so as to highlight all the
important events and actions in the scene. The reasons for the slow-down
can vary. When a character is trapped or in pain, every movement is
highlighted to show just how in pain the character is. When something
important or major happens in a character's life, the scene can be
slowed-down to show the character's thought process in the crucial time.
Essentially the point is to highlight the little things and to show how
important they are in that scene, instead of just giving the plot points
and telling the scene objectively.
Although the reasons for a slow-down can vary, it tends to be a difficult
thing to write. Therefore, a great writing exercise is to take a scene
that you already have written and try to write a slow-mo version of that
scene. In this way you will be able to practice highlighting what might
be important to the character and try and portray that importance to the
reader. The following is an example of this writing exercise, with the
scene of a car crash being portrayed both in real time, and slowed-down:
Kristin led a hectic life. Coffee in one hand and cell phone in the
other, she held her foot on the brake waiting for the light to change.
She glanced at the dashboard clock and it gleamed back at her with the
time of 5:05. She set down her coffee and tapped her fingers on the
steering wheel, listening intently to the voice on the other end of the
cell phone. The light switched to green, and Kristin slammed her foot
down on the gas. A quarter of the way into the intersection, Kristin lost
control of her car as a small black car slammed into the driver's side.
Disorientated, cell phone now laying on the ground, Kristin tried to stop
her car from spinning into something or someone else. She succeeded,
stopping her car facing the opposite direction she was heading. Taking a
deep breath, she glanced out her driver's side window when another force
pushed her body forward, slamming her head into the steering wheel,
knocking her unconscious.
As you can see from the previous scene, a lot happens in a short amount
of time. The scene is portrayed as if it is happening in real life, and
since a car crash happens in seconds, the portrayal of the car crash in
told in a few sentences. However, if Kristin is your main character, or
an important character of some sort, brushing over a major event like a
car crash can hide the reader from important details about Kristin's
character. In a scene like this, we as reader's may want to know how
Kristin acts under pressure, or if this scene causes major harm to her,
we as readers want to see all the details of a life-changing event in
Kristin's life. Therefore, the scene can be told slow-motion, as seen in
the following example:
As a driver, Kristin was taught to look both ways before entering an
intersection, even if the light is green. However, already 20 minutes
late in picking up her daughter and stuck in rush-hour traffic, Kristin
assumed that everything was normal. This assumption was a costly gamble
for Kristin.
As she entered the intersection, Krsitin's speedometer jumped from 0 to
35, even though she was only going about 5 miles per hour after those
first 15 feet. Krsitin opened her mouth to respond to her husband's last
comment when her body bucked to the right, her grip on her cell phone
gone. As her cell phone dropped to the floor of her car, her car turned
its first 180 degrees. Based on gut instinct, Kristin shifted her body
weight back to the left and grabbed the steering wheel with both hands
and slammed her foot on the brake. After spinning another whole rotation,
Kristin's car finally came to a stop.
Feeling her heart beating against her chest, Kristin's grip on the
steering wheel loosened, her shoulders slumped, and she let out a deep
sigh. "Bastard," Kristin thought, turning her head towards the window to
see which car hit her. She caught a glimpse of the black car also stopped
in the middle of the intersection and heard a tire squeal. As her brain
began to realize what the squealing meant, her body bucked forward and
her head whipped downwards. Her head met the steering wheel and the black
car that was in her line of sight seemed to take up her whole line of
vision, as the blackness enclosed and knocked her unconscious.
As you can see from the slow-mo, important things are told in this
version than in the previous one. For example, the fact that she's
talking to her husband on the phone could create another great scene in
the future. Her actions after the first crash help to show how in control
Kristin is, instead of just being thrown for a ride, literally. Yes, some
of these elements could be added to the first version of the scene, but
keeping with the pace the first scene takes, it might be hard to add in,
or might be overlooked.
Whether you use the slow-motion version of the scene or not, practicing
taking a normal scene and turning it slow-mo will help to show you as the
writer what important things about the character you might want to try
and add into the normal scene, or you might discover that a slowed-down
scene might be more beneficial.
Kolin Kasten is a graduate of St. Norbert College with a Bachelor's
Degree in English. He is a freelance writer who also works part-time for
Monumental Films, a Wisconsin-based video business whose goal is to
capture the important events in one's life on film. To learn more, please
go to: http://www.monumentalfilms.net

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