Tag Archives | writing scenes

Otherwhere: November 21

PiepieIt is a sunny but very cold Saturday here, and I’m holed up inside trying to finish up my NaNoWriMo word count for the day before I start in on yet more cleaning in anticipation of hosting Thanksgiving.

But, as always, or at least for the last two weeks, I have saved up a lot of cool links as I travel the internet and I share them with you today.  Most of them have to do with writing, as befits a writing blog (duh) but I threw in a couple bonus links on other topics, too.  Here goes:

Writing

I didn’t find as many useful past as usual this week, but I do offer you a collection of posts on writing scenes.  I went in search of these for a student.  Collectively, I think they are helpful:

10 Ways to Launch Strong Scenes

Excellent advice here.

The actual advice in this post is a bit too anal for the way I write, but there are some interesting examples of scene lists from famous writers here.

This post is titled How to Write a Scene, and it may just help you do that. Let’s hope.

And, how about some writing prompts specifically oriented to getting you deeper into your scene?  Here you go.

Social Media

I adore Instagram.  I used to spend spare moments scrolling through my Facebook feed, but now I look at Instagram instead.  However, I’ve been a bit stumped as to how to use it effectively as a writer.  After all, there’s nothing particularly fascinating about photo after photo of a computer.

This post from Jane Friedman offers ideas.

Pie

Of course you need posts on pie.  Because, it is almost Thanksgiving.  And who isn’t baking pies this week?

Quiet Reflection–Making Pies From Scratch

Thanksgiving Pie Ideas

“Be Happy, Make Pie”

How to Make Pie Dough

Okay, enough with the pies. A couple other items of interest:

Here’s a brief, interesting history of Black Friday.

And, for the knitters, this post on knitting Icelandic sweaters makes me drool.  Its all I can do to stop myself from ordering pattern and yarn.  Except I have declared a moratorium on all yarn purchases until 2050, which is about when I will have finished all my current projects.

And now I am off to organize the hall closet so we can actually fit coats in it.  And dream of pie.  And cozy Lopi sweaters.

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When to Write in Scene

Reading a manuscript yesterday, I was reminded that, while most writing teachers (myself included) insist advocate that students write in scene, there are also instances when you should not write in scene.

Sometimes writers dramatize events that don't warrant a full scene.  And then the writing just seems flabby.  Not much is happening, but there's a full-blown scene written.  I believe this is a subtle reason that many manuscripts fail.

But how are you supposed to know when to write a scene, then, for God's sake?

I have a couple of answers that should be helpful.

The first is a tidbit from an author and writing teacher whose name I've forgotten. Here it is:

Fast is slow and slow is fast.

What does this mean?  It means that if you would experience the event slowly in real time, write about it fast (i.e., in narrative, which can be used to compress time).  So, for instance, if your character spends a lazy Sunday morning reading the New York Times, dispatch that in a sentence or so.  It it not an event that warrants a scene.  On the other hand, maybe that character steps outside and notices her husband trapped under a car when the jack collapsed.  In a split second, she races to the vehicle and lifts it from him in a rush of adrenaline.  This is an event that you want to slow down and linger over, writing every sensory detail in a full blown scene.

Make sense?

The other helpful tidbit is actually several tidbits, or, a list of guidelines as to when to use scenes.  This has been bouncing around in my mind for years, after reading it somewhere and putting it into use, but I also saw it recently in a discusssion of Sandra Scofield's book on writing scenes, called The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer.

Here are three reasons a scene should exist:

1.  To advance the plot

2.  To reveal character

3.  To set up something that will re-occur later

Of the three, I think the first two are the strongest, though certainly the last has its merits as well.  What do you think?  How do you choose which events to put in scene and which to write in narrative?  Any tips for how to write in scene?

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