I have been trying to practice the scene and sequel structure, including the use of MRUs and I find it alternately natural and frustrating.
I understand that the goal of this structure is to keep the story moving, but I've seen some pretty extreme opinions expressed about it. One was to write the chapter with your creative juices flowing and then edit it down until it contains nothing but this structure.
That works for many things, but I struggle to reconcile it with world building or exposition. I like to do the world building as part of the action, but occasionally you need to create a description of something. This is where I get stuck.
I don't see world building description fitting the MRU model at all. It doesn't line up with motivation or reflex at all and seems to only partly line up with feeling or rational thought/speech.
I can see that it probably has no place whatsoever in scenes, but if sequels have the same micro-structure, then I'm lost.
Does world building sit outside this structure altogether, or should it be somehow linked to the sequel (I'm thinking after, before the next scene starts)?
Or maybe my idea of the scale of these things is out of whack.
Note: Scene-and-sequel is a writing technique developed by Dwight Swain, wherein a book is divided into alternating segments of incident and reaction. MRUs are "Motivation-Reaction Units," a more granular part of the same theory.
Edit: I have since analyzed dozens of successful novels and come to the conclusion that this technique is largely bunk. The principle is sound: keep the action moving and ensure that your characters respond to the happenings around them.
But a number of things don't work out when you try to apply this in the way it's shown on writing blogs. For one, following every scene with a sequel leads to a sluggish pace, especially if you're writing something with a lot of action. Slower, more contemplative work may benefit from this, but most commercial fiction is simply not written in this way.
Second, the MRU structure doesn't work at all in the way blogs show it. There, in the simple examples, you basically have a sentence or phrase for each part of the MRU. In real fiction of significant length, applying it like that leads to uniform, robotic text. In real fiction, each part of the MRU may be a paragraph or more in length, and they may blend.
The way I've learned to apply it, is as a check afterward. For example, is the character's response properly motivated? Does the reaction follow the motivation? Is the motivation properly responded to?
In that way, it's still useful as a quality check.