Wednesday, December 12, 2007

From Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time

A while back, I mentioned my good friend Jordan Rosenfeld's upcoming book on writing, Make A Scene. Well, it's out now, available on Amazon and elsewhere, just in time for holidays gifts for all those writers and someday-writers on your list. Here's a taste of her smart and engaging style:


By Jordan E. Rosenfeld

Three years after I graduated from college, my lifelong aspiration to be a working writer floundered. I’d become sidetracked by massage therapy, a career I undertook to support myself, but which wound up absorbing most actual writing time.

One quiet afternoon at the Marin County health club and spa where I worked as Spa Director, my coworkers and I assembled on the exercise floor in mild anticipation, summoned by an “all-staff memo.” What did our boss, Michael, have in store for us this time?

He bounded out dressed in skimpy, spandex bike shorts: “Today, we’re having a morale-boosting exercise,” he cried, exuberant as always.

Fourteen of us, crammed into sports leggings and identical staff t-shirts, shifted and murmured on the exercise floor. What would it be—another power-meeting or mini-marathon? A large-toothed motivational speaker to stride out and teach us to “feel the burn”? While none of my expectations came to pass, the tall, Scandinavian blonde who emerged from the locker room at a purposeful clip did not quell my concern. There was a mischievous twinkle in her blue eyes that made me a touch nervous.

“This is Stephanie Moore,” said Michael, waving in the beautiful woman’s direction with a glance of equal parts awe and respect.

With her straight posture and serious demeanor, she looked like she was there to teach us how to walk elegantly with books on our heads or count every last calorie. Whatever it was, the look in her eye said clearly that she had plans for us.

“You guys look great!’ she gushed in a throaty night-club singer voice after appraising us. What was this—an auction? Take-home-a-trainer for a day?

“Are you ready? You better be ready!” she continued.

Unlike Michael’s dogged cheerfulness, which had a tendency to grate on the staff’s nerves, Stephanie commanded our attention, not just because of her astonishing good looks, but a powerful authority in her long, lean body as if she could turn drill-sergeant at any second and demand we drop and give her sixty.

“I hope you’re ready to dance!” she cried, and before we could argue that while we were fitness-buffs, dancing was another story, she’d turned on raucous Latin music and swung her hips in rhythm to it.

“You’re going to learn to Salsa,” she cried, raising a slender arm, “In an hour. Pair up!”

I had recently recovered from bad bronchitis and was weak and slow-moving. This did not escape Stephanie. She grabbed me by the arm, “You’ll be my partner,” she said. “I’ll lead,” she added, as if I had any doubt.

“One, two, one-two-three,” she said, demonstrating the beat to the music with her knees.

Despite my klutzy nature, under her surprisingly steady hand my body showed a kinetic intelligence I didn’t know it had. Within minutes even the graceless and beefiest among us were hip-swinging away, unembarrassed, to the vivifying salsa beat.

“Oh you’ve got it now!” she shouted. And for a few moments, I did feel as though I “had it” if that meant control over my body in a whole new way.

Afterwards, in the locker room, still giddy and panting with effort, I stopped her. “You’re a great teacher,” I said. “My
creative outlet is writing, but I can see how dancing could be a great one, too.”

“Thanks.” She flung her blonde hair out of her face and lasered in on me with those royal blues. “I also happen to teach writing, and as it happens, I can write like I dance.” I was all prepared to drop and bow to her multi-talented nature when she offered, “I can teach you to do the same.”

Empowered by her skills as a dance teacher, I knew fate had handed me an avenue back to my writing and I gladly followed.

Stephanie was the first person to teach me about the scene—the tool I just used to illustrate the essential idea of this book. To write well you must take the reader into hand and teach them how to move to your beat, or follow a mystery, or care about two lovers who are coming apart at the seams. In order to achieve this, your reader must be able to enter your story as if it were the auditorium of a larger theater, or an empty dance floor with strange music playing. It is my hope that this book will teach you how to, well, make a scene with as much confidence as I once danced like a Salsa queen.

—Jordan E. Rosenfeld

Want to read more? Click here for Amazon.

~~Jordan E. Rosenfeld is the author of two books for writers, Make a Scene: How to Craft a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time (Writer's Digest Books)—and, with Rebecca Lawton, Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life (BeijaFlor Books), January, 2008. She is a contributing editor to Writer's Digest magazine, a book reviewer for KQED Radio, and has been published in The San Francisco Chronicle, The St. Petersburg Times , Marin magazine, Petaluma magazine, and Seattle Conscious Choice among others.


Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Thanks for this Maryanne! xo

Patry Francis said...

One of the best writing books I've read!