Wednesday, August 24, 2011

French It Up A Bit

This weekend, I finished my first draft of Imogen and Leander. I am, of course, at lose ends. Apparently, I don't know what to do with myself when I'm not writing.

Anyway, this is the first story I've ever seen all the way through that contained multiple protagonists. Guess who they are. While other projects I've worked on have had a male lead who went opposite my female lead, that guy tended to be more of a Love Interest than a Male Protagonist. He wasn't the guy I was following around, generally.

Still, as I was writing, I kept getting the feeling that instead of sharing the screen time, as it were, Imogen was really hogging the limelight. So, reverting to my theater days, I made up a French Scene Breakdown.

Technically, a French Scene is a scene that begins and ends with an actor’s entrance or exit. So a French Scene Breakdown shows you when the character enters and exits the scenes.

Or, a visual example from Imogen and Leander. (I started with just Imogen and Leander, but I tacked on breakdowns for their primary compatriots, largely for my own amusement.)

This sort of chart strongly backs up my suspicion that while Leander does appear on more than half the pages of the text, he really is comparatively less represented. I'm taking this as a serious reminder that in my next draft I really need to go back in a beef up his storyline. Because, really, as my Male Protagonist, he's got to be doing as much as my Female Protagonist, or I'm going about this story the wrong way.

I think French Scene Breakdowns are very useful for analyzing plots and keeping track of story threads. It's a visual indicator of how often you're hitting all of your notes, a fact that can easily slip away from you in a large project.

Do you ever make something like a French Scene Breakdown? Have you ever used something like this ever? Do you like doing visual breakdowns? What sort?


  1. This is a great idea. I'm going to do it with my project right now. Thanks for the tip.

  2. I've never even heard of such a thing, but it's very interesting. I kind of had a similar thing w/ my last novel. my two protagonists share screen time. I had to come up with more stuff for protagonist #2 so she didn't feel like a secondary character.

  3. Susan -- I'm glad it might be useful for you.

    Tamara -- It's a hard line to walk having to protagonists, as I'm coming to realize. I'm hoping this experiment can be helpful there.