Scene Analysis Example

What can you expect to receive from a scene analysis?

Scene Analysis – The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness Chapter 1

Keep in mind that this is only one interpretation of the scene. Additionally, all of this information will be discussed via phone call so that you understand why your scene works, or what it needs to make it work.

A STORY EVENT is an active change of life value for one or more characters as a result of conflict (one character’s desires clash with another’s).

A WORKING SCENE contains at least one Story Event.

To determine a Scene’s Story Event, answer these four questions:

1. What are the characters literally doing?

Todd is getting apples from the swamp, Aaron attacks him, and he finds Quiet, but he’s not sure what it is

Todd is trying to convince himself that it’s ok that he’s not yet a man. He’s asked to get apples which isn’t a man’s task, he has a dog he doesn’t want, he’s attacked by Aaron for swearing, and it’s clear he has no idea what’s actually out there, but he’s turning 13 in a month, so he has to sit tight until then

2. What is the essential action of what the characters are doing in this scene?

Todd is attacked by Aaron in the swamp and later finds the Quiet

3. What life value has changed for one or more of the characters in the scene?

Frustrated to Confused

Naïveté masked as Sophistication to Naïveté

4. Which life value should I highlight on my Story Grid Spreadsheet?  

Naïveté masked as Sophistication to Naïveté

HOW THE SCENE ABIDES THE FIVE COMMANDMENTS OF STORYTELLING

  • Inciting Incident: Todd is attacked and warned by Aaron while in the swamp looking for apples
  • Complications: Todd is alone in the swamp, the last boy to become a man. He describes his town and the things he knows to be true which focus on Noise and the threat it poses (Turning Point: Manchee barks at Todd about the hole in the Noise)
  • Crisis: To investigate the silence would be dangerous, but Todd is curious about what it could be (and he’s emotionally invested in it)
  • Climax: He decides to investigate
  • Resolution: The Quiet gets away

NOTES

  • The mention of language being important is interesting given that Todd is largely illiterate
  • Todd is young, and it’s obvious both in his action and thoughts, but we’re only privy to his perspective, so we only know the world as he sees it which is an interesting take
  • Deep down, Todd really cares about Manchee despite saying that he didn’t want a dog (he didn’t actually kick him in the end) – this is obvious by his actions rather than his words (and action proves character)
  • It’s interesting that Todd doesn’t have to explain the Spackle, Noise, and Quiet but we’re able to suspend our disbelief because we know Todd understands it – we know that the setting is not on Earth, but we also don’t spend this chapter with an entire back-story on the world or the people in it
  • Aaron is clearly set up as a villain

Why this scene works

  • There is a clear shift from the start to the end of the scene. At first, Todd is naive pretending he isn’t. When he finds the Quiet, his worldview shifts. He can no longer pretend he knows everything about the world around him. (Though he will try to hold on to this view in later scenes.)
  • Not only that, but in this one chapter Ness makes promises to the reader that he will pay off later on: Aaron is an established villain Todd must face, the Quiet will be discovered, Todd will mature into a man, and we will get to know the world that Todd is living in as intimately as he knows it.
  • As a first chapter, this is intriguing. I want to know more. It’s paid off in a clear way and contains all the elements so that Todd faces a change.
The Five Commandments are Included
  • There is a clear beginning to the scene that upsets the life balance of Todd. He’s asked to get apples in the swamp even though he’s almost a man and could easily get them from Mr. Phelp’s store. He wants to keep pretending he’s old enough to be a man, but tasks like this prove he isn’t. When he is attacked by Aaron for using foul language and Noise, he’s once again reminded of his place in the world.
  • Aaron also mentions the importance of Noise and how it reveals a man which will come back in later chapters.
  • The conflict gets progressively worse. Manchee has already run away, Todd is attacked and bleeding from Aaron, but what’s really important is the relationship Todd has to Noise. He reveals that he’s never known a world without it. All the animals in the swamp use it to detect danger. And, there is no escape from Noise no matter where in the world someone goes. These are the things Todd knows to be true and are what make his world dangerous. Noise bombards Todd’s reality. Men hide things in it and it’s hard for Todd to gauge the truth. Manchee provides the active Turning Point when he lets Todd know he hears something.
  • Then, Todd is faced with the Quiet though he has no idea what it might be. Because he’s never known that a hole in the Noise could exist, it changes his perspective on the world he knows.
  • He is faced with a question he must answer: should he investigate the Quiet or no?
  • He chooses to try and find out what the Quiet is even though it’s dangerous.
  • There is a resolution: The Quiet gets away.