Anatomy of a Scene

It’s all about bits of information.

Authors write scenes in order to make the events in the fictional world seem real to the reader. You want your readers to be emotionally engaged in the drama. You want your readers to feel as if your characters are real. You want your readers to applaud your character’s successes, and bewail your character’s failures. This is the power of writing in scenes.

Each scene must have a purpose in the overall structure of the novel. Each scene should also have at least one piece of new information. Think of journalism’s 5 W’s and an H. Who. What. Why. Where. When. How. Which of these will you give your reader? If the scene you are writing does not move the story forward and provide any new information to your reader, why are you writing the scene?

Stop boring your readers.

Don’t stop writing your scene until you’ve provided at least one piece of new information for your reader. It doesn’t matter if that information is the why, or the how, or the where, or when, or what.

Which bit of information do you provide your reader at what point in your novel?

It might help to think of your novel in sections.

The first section of your novel is where you introduce your reader to your story world. This is where you set up your world. This is where you show your reader a bit about who your characters are. This is where you show your reader what your character’s main dilemma is. This is where you show your reader what it is your character really wants.

In the second section of your novel you tease your reader with surprises which lead to conflicts which force your character to change. Your character can change their mind, their plans, or the direction they travel. The second section is where you mislead your characters and your readers with false leads and red herrings to keep everyone on their toes.

The third section of your novel ties up all of those misleads, and red herrings, and any bit of information that you provided your reader in the first two sections. The third section is where you answer all the questions. Note that this third section is not for introducing new information. Don’t do it. Things should be wrapping up. The third section if for leading your reader toward the story conclusion.

The third section is where writers discover if there are plot holes in their story. If you can’t tie up all of your loose ends, you have a plot hole. This means you have missing information in your scenes, and you will have to revisit your scenes to find out where you forgot to provide your reader with information.

By writing in scenes, you will have an easier time of revision to ensure all the information your reader needs is available to them. By making sure you write your scenes with beginnings, middles, and endings you will ensure that your story moves forward.

Next time: More on scenes.

Note: I apologize if my blog is a bit sporadic through the end of the year. Deadlines are looming and sometimes the blog is the easiest thing to push aside.

Blue thread going through needle eye, close-up

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