101 Best Scenes Ever Written
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Readers will delight at the best scenes ever written. They will find old favorites and savor scenes new to them. With each scene, Barnaby Conrad provides insights as to what the author wishes to accomplish with this passage and the literary devices he or she employs. Any avid reader will enjoy Conrad's ""101 Best Scenes Ever Written,"" but countless fledgling and established writers will benefit enormously by sampling and studying these gems from the masters of the written word.



Publié par
Date de parution 01 octobre 2006
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9781610350754
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0020€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Other Books by Barnaby Conrad
La Fiesta Brava
Gates of Fear
Death of Manolete
San Francisco: A Profile in Words and Pictures
Famous Last Words
Encyclopedia of Bullfighting
How to Fight a Bull
Fun While It Lasted
A Revolting Transaction
Time Is All We Have
Hemingway’s Spain
The Complete Guide to Writing Fiction
Name Dropping
Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life (with Monte Schulz)
The World of Herb Caen
Learning to Write Fiction from the Masters
Santa Barbara
The Innocent Villa
Zorro: A Fox in the City
Endangered (with Niels Mortensen)
Fire Below Zero (with Nico Mastorakis)
Keepers of the Secret (with Nico Mastorakis)
Last Boat to Cadiz
The Wounds of Hunger (Spota)
The Second Life of Captain Contreras (Luca de Tena)
My Life as a Matador (Autobiography of Carlos Arruza)

Copyright © 2007 Barnaby Conrad. All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
Published by Quill Driver Books/Word Dancer Press, Inc.
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Sanger, California 93657
559-876-2180 • 1-800-497-4909 • FAX 559-876-2180
Quill Driver Books’ titles may be purchased in quantity at special discounts for educational, fund-raising, business, or promotional use. Please contact Special Markets, Quill Driver Books/Word Dancer Press, Inc. at the above address or at 1-800-497-4909.
Quill Driver Books/Word Dancer Press, Inc. Project Cadre:
Doris Hall, Kenneth Lee, Stephen Blake Mettee
1-884956-56-4 • 978-1884956-56-0
Second Printing
Printed in the United States of America
Q UILL D RIVER B OOKS and C OLOPHON are trademarks of Quill Driver Books/Word Dancer Press, Inc.
To order another copy of this book, please call 1-800-497-4909
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Conrad, Barnaby, 1922
101 best scenes ever written : a romp through literature for writers and readers / by Barnaby Conrad.
p. cm.
ISBN 1-884956-56-4
1. Literature, Modern History and criticism. 2. Motion picture authorship. I. Title. II. Title: One hundred one best scenes ever written. III. Title: One hundred and one best scenes ever written.
PN701.C66 2006
808.2’3 dc22
My thanks to Kathy Carnahan, Shelly Lowenkopf, and Barnaby Conrad III, without whom this book wouldn’t be.
C HAPTER 1 Of Scenes
C HAPTER 2 Beginnings
C HAPTER 3 Purely Visual Scenes
C HAPTER 4 Action
C HAPTER 5 Adventure
C HAPTER 7 Romance
C HAPTER 8 Revenge
C HAPTER 9 Betrayal
C HAPTER 10 Humor
C HAPTER 11 Horror
C HAPTER 12 Juveniles
C HAPTER 13 Endings
C HAPTER 14 L ‘Envoi
Of Scenes

I F AN ASPIRING WRITER IS TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL AND PUBLISHED writer of fiction, he or she must truly understand the concept of "show don’t tell." In other words, it isn’t enough to tell your reader that your protagonist is brave or a coward; one must show the reader that the protagonist is either brave or a coward.
It’s not enough to tell the reader that your protagonist is in love you must show it. The most economical scene I ever saw to show that cupid’s arrow had struck was in an old film called A Letter to Three Wives; the big lug of a protagonist (Paul Douglas) drives the pretty girl (Linda Darnell) up to her house, and before getting out she gives him a quick kiss on the cheek. He sits there in a daze, mechanically sticks a cigarette in his mouth, takes out the car’s lighter, lights his cigarette, shakes the lighter three times, tosses it out the window as if it were a match, and drives off in a trance. We know he’s hooked because no one told us we were shown.
By scenes and scenes alone do writers show not tell. In this book are some 101 of the greatest scenes I have come across in my long reading lifetime. Studying them should constitute a valuable shortcut for would-be writers who cannot take the time to read all the books or see the films and plays from which they are extracted.
So okay, exactly what is a scene? What makes a scene a scene?
One could say, glibly, that it is an episode where two or more characters engage in dialogue or actions that display character, that change the course of the story in some way, advance the plot, or change the way we feel about this character or that character. But, on the other hand, all through literature, we have scenes with only one character, or a character and a ghost, like Hamlet and his father’s ghost, or with one character and a dog like Jack London’s classic "To Build a Fire" (See page 43 ), or scenes with only one character wrestling with his inner being such as a Tennessee Williams’ character in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. And we even have scenes between a mongoose and a cobra, as in Rudyard Kipling’s "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" (see page 174 ).
Scenes can be thousands of words long, or just five short sentences, like this opening of the 1994 thriller The Day After Tomorrow by Allan Folsom:
Paul Osborn sat alone among the smoky bustle of the after-work crowd, staring into a glass of red wine. He was tired and hurt and confused. For no particular reason he looked up. When he did, his breath left him with a jolt. Across the room sat the man who murdered his father…
Yes, that constitutes a scene! Not an entire scene, but certainly the beginning of one. We have a setting, two characters, and, most of all, a happening.
Is this opening, from Ambrose Bierce’s classic short story, "An Imperfect Conflagration," a scene?
Early one morning in 1872 I murdered my father an act which made a deep impression on me at the time.
No, while it is a grabber, it is not a scene it is an idea and a statement, not a scene.
In a like manner is Leo Tolstoy’s oft-quoted beginning of his novel Anna Karenina:
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
It is not a scene: it is a thought, an observation, a truism; it is a telling, a generality; but Tolstoy, always a story-teller first and foremost, quickly moves into a real scene that we visualize and participate in instead of merely conceptualize: a dramatic exchange between Anna’s brother and his wife which starts out:
Everything was in confusion in the Oblonsky household. The wife had discovered that the husband was carrying on an affair with their former governess….
The great writers have always practiced this:
Get to a good scene as quickly as possible in your story telling, no matter with what abstract generalization you start.
Tami Hoag does this in the beginning of the best-selling 1999 thriller Ashes to Ashes:
Some killers are born. Some killers are made. And sometimes the origin of desire for homicide is lost in the tangle of roots that make an ugly childhood and a dangerous youth, so that no one may ever know if the urge was inbred or induced.
He lifts the body from the back of the Blazer like a roll of old carpet to be discarded. The soles of his boots scuff against the blacktop of the parking area, then fall nearly silent on the dead grass and hard ground. The night is balmy for November in Minneapolis. A swirling wind tosses fallen leaves. The bare branches of the trees rattle together like bags of bones.
He knows he falls into the last category of killers.
Notice, also, how the author gives us "the weather report" only after the dramatic action has caught our attention; the days of starting a story or novel with nothing but detailed weather and setting are over. Charles Dickens spends many pages of the opening of Bleak House describing nothing but the fog of London! No characters, no conflict just fog. It wouldn’t work today.
"It’s not enough to tell the reader that your protagonist is in love - you must show it."
Put a character doing something in the midst of your weather and setting.
Sometimes a scene stays in our minds simply because of the unique dialogue and characterization, such as between the odd couple, Lennie and George, in John steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
The two are bumming around California, avoiding the law because of "the bad thing" the simple-minded Lennie has done to a girl.
Lennie spoke craftily, "Tell me like you done before."
"Tell you what?"
"About the rabbits."
George snapped, "You ain’t gonna put nothing over on me."
Lennie pleaded, "Come on, George. Tell me. Please, George. Like you done before."
"You get a kick outta that, don’t you? Awright, I’ll tell you, and then we’ll eat our supper… "
George’s voice became deeper. He repeated his words rhythmically as though he had said them many times before. He tells Lennie the longtime fantasy of their getting a little ranch somewhere.
"O.K. Someday we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs and "
"An’ live of

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