Every week I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. This week I am taking a look at Writing Scenes – part 1.
Below is an excerpt from my book TR Independent Books Guide to Writing:
Scenes are like the pieces of a crossword puzzle. Individually they may be interesting but when placed in the proper place then they form an integral part of the puzzle. Before they had little meaning but now a complete picture is shown.
Each scene, in a sense, is a miniature story. While by itself it can’t stand, it does have something to contribute. Basically each scene should have four parts: Plot, Character, Theme, and Suspense.
How long should a scene be?
The answer to this is in the context. For example, Plot, technical information, and scenic descriptions should all be short scenes. On the other hand, conversation, emotion, and suspense often require longer scenes. Don’t over think it. If you are a reader as well as a writer you will likely know what works best for your scenes and ultimately what works best for you.
There are many ways to start a scene. Books have been written on crafting and you should build a library on writing. But a good start is to consider using these techniques:
- begin with action
- begin with conversation
- begin in the middle
- begin with a promise or anticipation
- begin with a problem
- begin with the setting itself
- begin with the time of day
These are just seven techniques.
Tip #1: Before and after writing a scene consider the four parts (Plot, Character, Theme, and Suspense).
Tip #2: No matter how you write your scenes you need to clearly separate them. I use the ampersand (&) or the asterisk (*), some use (xxx), and others use other markers. But don’t use blanks!
Adam awoke. Something caused me to wake up. What was it? Wait – Eden River. That is it! I must have been dreaming about Eden River.
Gently disengaging himself from Woman, he got up. Being as quiet as possible, he headed for the river where he found a comfortable knoll. From this position, he had a good view of the river. It must be about a half-mile across! I never realized that. Tomorrow, I will take Woman and we will follow the river to its beginning.
In silence, he continued watching the river, estimating its size. The question was its length. A glitter caught his eye. He smiled as he realized that the moon’s light seemed to dance on the river’s surface.
After awhile, he returned to Woman where he lay down and was soon fast asleep.
The above scene is taken from Perished: The World That Was which takes place in the Garden of Eden. Notice that it is a brief scene (scenes can vary in length), it relates to the Plot, concerns Adam, and sets up the reader for the following event (exploring the river). More importantly the scene is separated from the following scene which may or may not be related.
Did you notice how the scene started? It began with ‘Adam awoke’. While not the most exciting beginning it does denote sudden action. It attracts the reader’s attention with an implied ‘something is about to happen’. In other words, it opened with action, although mild. This is acceptable, but if you can liven it up do so.
The sooner you get to action in your scene the better. But beware that the action is appropriate to your character(s).
And I used separators before and after!
When writing a scene you want this mini-story to excite, intrigue or provide necessary information to your readers. In the example above the scene prepared the reader for Adam and Eve’s exploration of the Eden River plus it gave information about the river itself.
By itself it didn’t seem very important but it provided a solid intro to what became an interesting and exciting journey for the two of them. Not to mention the reader.
When you break your story up into scenes it becomes easier to edit, move, or even delete scenes as deemed necessary.
Note: in Tip #2 I said never use blanks. Some authors do and they are successful. My problem with blanks is that it is easy for the eye to pass over them and the reader doesn’t realize a change of scenes has taken place. That has happened to me. The result was that I had to go back to the beginning of the scene and clarify who and what is taking place.
Part 2 or the Middle Scene will be next as we study scenes.
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R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. In addition he is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical and Speculative Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.