Saturday Writing Tip: Scenes

This morning while writing Morning Pages I had a brainstorm for a new series of Saturday posts.  Short and sweet, offering one writing tip.

This, my friends, is the inaugural post, on scenes.

Scenes dramatize writing.  They bring it to life on the page.  Scenes have dialogues, interiority, description and movement.    I know, you know all this.  Here's something else:

Scenes need to have rising or falling action.

Too many writers start and end scenes at the same place.  And by, at the same place I generally mean emotionally.  If the scene starts with your character happy, end it with him angry.  Or vice-versa. Or whatever works in the context of your story. 

This is a simplistic way of getting you to look at scenes as a whole, self-contained package.  They need to have a beginning, middle and end.  Each scene needs to have a purpose, preferably several purposes: to advance the action, to reveal character, to show setting.

To really get down and dirty with the concept of scenes, read books on screenplay structure.  Screenplays must have scenes that are tightly contained and structured.  You'll learn a lot from the genre.

Please comment.  Do you love writing scenes or do you struggle with them?

Create a successful, inspired writing life: Study scenes.  Read about them and apply what you've learned to your own work–even if you're writing non-fiction.

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4 Responses to Saturday Writing Tip: Scenes

  1. J.D. 05/05/2012 at 18:29 #

    Charlotte, I like this tip. Pacing is a huge problem for me. I always appreciate anything that can make me think about it.

  2. Charlotte Dixon 05/06/2012 at 08:02 #

    Yeah, its a problem for me.  My first drafts tend to have all the action happening at once, with people coming in to announce the latest catastrophe.  It's just the way I think.  Thanks to my writing group, I've learned to slow down and pull some of the action apart.  Glad this info on scenes is helpful.

  3. J.D. 05/06/2012 at 18:08 #

    I attended a writer’s conference 3 or 4 years back. Lee Child, the guy who writes those Jack Reacher thillers, was the principal speaker. He said, “Write the slow parts fast and the fast parts slow.” I’m not very quick–it took me about 15 mins. to understand what he meant lol.

  4. Charlotte Dixon 05/07/2012 at 07:08 #

    Yes!  I've heard that, too, J.D.  I hesitate to say it to people because it takes a bit to explain.  You're not the only one who had a hard time understanding it.  Hmmmm, perhaps that's an idea for a blog post…

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