Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Scene Writing Tips - Part 1

Many writers struggle when writing or editing scenes. What should be included? What makes a good scene? Here’s a list to help you write stronger scenes.

-Make sure your scenes vary in length and intensity. Write some shorter, faster paced scenes and others that are longer and more complicated.

-The best scenes hint that there’s more to come, usually ending with a hook.

-Don’t end the scene with your character going to bed. This doesn’t give the reader a reason to open the book any time soon. End with an unanswered question or some sort of turmoil, and the reader will have to come back to see what happens next.

-If you write a one-person scene, make sure whatever that character says, does, reveals, or discovers affects another character.

-Great scenes create reversals. A character who enters the scene feeling happy will leave feeling sad or angry. A character who is anticipating a romantic evening with his date will feel disappointed at the end of the scene.

-If you can cut a scene without changing the outcome of the story, conflict, or character growth, delete it.

-While some stories force you to continue in the same setting throughout the novel, most plot points can take place in other settings. Changing the locations refreshes the story.

-Some writers change chapters with each new scene, but that’s not necessary. However, if you decide to group scenes together to form a chapter, it’s best to connect them so they don’t appear to be a bunch of scenes thrown together.

-To avoid extra long scenes, add natural breaks by having a character enter, the scene character arrive some place different, the phone ring, or the doorbell chime.

-Mix up the scenes by adding characters. Don’t stick to two-character scenes throughout the novel or the story will lack depth.

Come back next Wednesday for part two of this list. Which of these tips have you used? Which is your favorite tip?

There’s still time to sign up for the class Hook, Line, and Sinker: How to Hook Readers and Reel Them In. There are only six spots left, so don’t delay. For more information on the class, visit


  1. I write several scenes within a chapter - I don't think a "chapter" can be written with only one event, and I think of scenes as events. Each scene has to forward the chapter goal however, so many times my chapters end as a specific scene ends, but the scene serves as a transition into the next chapter

    Another one of your tips I use is setting changes. Yeah, the main plot takes place in one setting, but like real people, I like to have my characters move through their world and have important events/epifany's happen other places.

    These are excellent tips to keep in mind Lynette. Thanks.


  2. Donna: Thanks for sharing!

    Lynnette Labelle

  3. For me, chapter division are major plot packages. The scenes within complete the event. I try to make sure that, although the incident is encased within the chapter, the chapter's end hints of another issue that has arisen because of what just happened.

  4. Lynette: Sounds perfect!

    Lynnette Labelle

  5. Thanks for sharing these tips, Lynnette. : ) Beth