If you found this page, you are probably curious about the different types of scenelettes I post on my blog. First off, I should specify that ‘scenelette’ is the very loose term I use to describe any short piece of writing which is not part of the original story, but involves my characters.
I should probably note that my attitude towards characters is more of a ‘chronicler’ than a ‘creator.’ That’s why I often describe my characters as doing things on their own. My job – particularly when I’m doing scenelettes and not the primary book – is just to set up a situation. Anything that happens after that is up to them, not me.
There are a couple different styles of scenelettes you might see:
Novels can only capture a portion of a character’s life, but all of them have backstories before page 1, and futures after ‘the end,’ and plenty of moments in between which aren’t in the book. When I write a canon scenelette, I’m exploring one of these moments.
Very occasionally, you might see me label a scenelette as ‘pseudo-canon.’ This means that I’m exploring something that might have happened, but I’m not willing to fully commit to saying it did happen.
In this scenelette type, I’ll normally specify the timeline so you know if it takes place before / during / or after the book.
AU (Alternate Universe)
I also use this category when I mean ‘Alternate Timeline.’ These are little stories where I’ll observe how characters would react if something about their lives was different. Sometimes this means moving them to a different world (aka – putting fantasy characters in modern day) or tweaking something about the story’s timeline (aka – what if X character had been blind.)
As a writing exercise, putting my crew in a weird or extreme setting sometimes gives me hints about their personality that I can later use in their story. Of course, sometimes these are just for funsies, because there’s something ridiculously satisfying about plucking people out of their fantasy world and putting them in jeans and T-shirts.
This is when I take characters from unrelated stories and put them together. This can take place in either one of their worlds, or a new setting completely. Technically, all of these also fall into the AU category.
A lot of these show up from my ‘two character mash up’ project. This is a writing exercise I’ve been employing for years. I keep a running list of all my characters, and I like to draw two names at random and then see what they bring out in each other.
This is the weird one. In these scenelettes, my characters are all aware that they are characters in fiction. I have a fairly complex ‘backstage’ area where my characters hang out when they are outside of their story. But don’t let my word choice make you think that my characters see themselves as actors, with their stories being some kind of play. That’s not it.
In this MetaSpace, they acknowledge the events of their own plot lines as moments in their lives and speak freely to each other about them. However, they are also keenly aware of the writing process. If you were to visit the backstage area, my characters might tell you, “I wrestled an alligator once. Want to see the scar?” if that was part of their book. But they might just as easily tell you, “The author is stuck on our story right now,” or “I used to be in this story, but my scenes got edited out,” or “I died. It was really painful.”
Most of these scenelettes were formed as I was writing / editing the original manuscript. Often, when I’m getting a feel for the characters or if a particular scene isn’t working, I’ll have Hannah talk to the characters within the MetaSpace. You’d be surprised at how much insight they have, and generally they come up with things that just wouldn’t have occurred to me.
Also included under this category are the characters just hanging out with one another and relaxing. As an author, it’s helpful for me to observe them without the pressures of a plot or setting. It gives me a chance to work with just their personalities, and that’s a lot of fun.