Learning to craft good scenes for your novel is a foundational tool in your writing tool kit. Think of the scenes as the building blocks you use to construct your masterpiece. If they’re faulty or incomplete, what will the building look like?
But there are as many blog posts about writing a scene for your novel as there are varieties of ice cream sundaes at your favorite summer hang out.
So why am I writing one more?
Because when it comes right down to it, writing a scene isn’t as hard as it seems. You only need to break it down into four major parts:
Beginning: When the scene begins, does the reader know when and where this is taking place, and whose point of view it’s in? If not, you’re in danger of leaving your reader stranded in the land of floating heads. YOU may know exactly what your characters are seeing, feeling, etc., but does your reader?
Middle: The midsection of the scene should take up the most time. A sentence or two into the scene, after you’ve given your reader the information they need, start increasing the tension and continue to the turning point.
The turning point is the main purpose for the scene. It’s where the reader learns something new about the character, or the character learns something new about himself or someone else, or a decision is made.
There are a lot of different ways this can be played out, but the main thing is to make sure the scene contributes to the flow of the story and moves things forward.
End: Does the scene resolve itself? The character(s) involved should make a decision or take an action as a result of the turning point.
And finally: Is there a hook at the end of the scene that will make the reader continue on to the next scene? Without a hook leading your reader further into the story, there is no reason for them to turn the page.
And here’s a homework assignment: Look at a scene in your favorite book. Does it have all four of these elements in it? What exceptions did the author make, if any? Now do the same with one of your own scenes.
What did you learn?
3 Replies to “The Anatomy of a Scene”
I haven’t thought consciously about a hook at the end of each scene. When I have finished my first draft I will read with this in mind. Great tip thanks. Incidentally, I found the hunger games series had this hook idea down to a tee.
There is a reason the Hunger Games readers devour those books! Of course, in my Amish romances the hooks aren’t quite as exciting 🙂
Thanks for stopping by, Eleanor!
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