The Scene

Yet more advice from a writing course this time on the scene.

The scene is a self-contained unit of story. You can write the scene by:

  • Setting
  • Character
  • Action

You can consider the book as if it were a film.

Short scenes keep people’s attention. This enables the quick switching of narrative between characters.

There is a single viewpoint for each scene – that character’s point of view. It is filtered through the thoughts and emotions of that character.

Do not switch between viewpoints in a scene – it is always through one character’s eyes.

Classically a scene has only one setting. However it can contain several settings or even a moving setting (in a plane, on-board ship and so on)

The beginning of a scene is a critical moment which you should use to capture the reader’s interest.

One technique is to begin the scene as if in the middle of something (in media res).
This could be the middle of some action (a fight?), some dialogue (an argument?) or anything which can hook the reader.

Chunks of description are a riskier way of starting a scene as it can risk boring the reader unless done well.

Description should be broken up for a more successful beginning. This could for example make use of dialogue between short pieces of description.

The aim is to grab the reader’s attention as soon as you can.

Where the scene is dark add moments of light relief.

The ending of every scene is as important as the beginning. Ideally the scene should end in such a way that the reader wants to read more.

There are different techniques to achieve this. The main character of that scene can fail attempting a goal. There could be a reversal for that character. The character may have to end one course of action and consider another.

However you choose to end the scene the reader needs to be left wondering what happens next and wanting to read on.

One method of achieving this is to hint at what is to come for example plans to achieve an outstanding goal.

The book then becomes like a series of short stories each of them linked together.

Author: Phil Maud

Keen on privacy and IT Security. A volunteer counsellor. I use blogging to improve my writing.

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