Thursday, 12 July 2012

What Every Scene Needs

Where the magic happens...
Imagine your novel as a storyboard; a series of graphic organizers (sticky notes on the wall above your writing desk) displayed in sequence for the purpose of visualizing your story.

Each sticky note represents a scene with a brief description or illustration detailing what happens.

Now pick one sticky note. Is this scene essential to moving the plot forward? Could it be more effective at another point in the story or should it be pulled off the wall and out of your novel completely?

If you're not sure, go down my check list and see if your scene has what it takes to keep the reader interested.


Ground the reader in place and time, but instead of saying it was a hot morning, describe how your protagonist is already sweating in their shorts and flip flops at the breakfast table.


What is at stake for the protagonist? What is preventing them from reaching their story goal? There should be conflict in every scene.


Show how your characters are feeling. Describe body language. Connect the reader to the POV's emotional state. Don't forget about senses.


Employ key phrases for characters, but be careful of repetition. Nail the voice. Does it move the plot forward or is it just chit chat?


Action can be as simple as your protagonist finally dialling up her secret crush, or as complex as a car chase through road blocks and marching bands.


Have your characters give the reader information by either letting them know what they're thinking, or through flashbacks. Be careful not to give away all the secrets at once. Only enough to send your protagonist on another task that will lead to the next scene.


A development the reader wasn't expecting that throws more conflict toward the protagonist, and keeps the reader invested and turning the pages.
So, how does your scene measure up?

What are some of your favorite scenes from novels?


Tonja Drecker said...

I saw that picture (before I saw the credits)and thought 'Girl - you've got some serious story going on in your WIP!' Something like that would totally confuse me :)

The points are good. I'm copying them right now.

Jackie said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing this!

Charlie N. Holmberg said...

Thanks for the tips!

BR Myers said...

Write on, ladies! Thanks for commenting.

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