Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Scene Writing Tips - Part 2

The other day, we talked about tips for writing stronger scenes. Here are some more goodies to add to your list.

-Scenes are about conflict. One way to show conflict is to have an exchange of power where one character wants something the other one has. The way she tries to obtain this want is instant conflict. She might need to steal, charm, or persuade to achieve her goal.

-Tension feeds tension. Characters become more and more desperate with no options or no means of escape. Everything escalates and the stakes are raised.

-Reaction is key. You can’t have an intense, emotional scene or an action-packed scene without slowing the pace in the following scene to allow your characters to react appropriately. If you don’t take the time do to this, your reader won’t be able to connect properly with the characters. Remember, we’re experiencing everything through the eyes of the POV character and we expect them to react after something is thrown at them.

-Toward the end of the novel, it’s time to start wrapping up loose ends, not time to introduce new developments or complications. This waters down the resolution of the climax.

-Don’t forget to reveal secrets that the reader didn’t foresee. This can be done by tipping the reader off through actions or dialogue that one character does while trying to keep the secret, or by showing the other character discover the secret.

-Don’t add a sex scene just so your characters can have sex and you can meet the expected quota on how many sex scenes you should have in your story. All scenes need a reason to be there and a quota doesn’t count as a reason. Make sure the sex scene develops the characters, changes the relationship between the couple, and/or reveals something about the characters.

-Watch your action scenes. Make them as realistic as possible. Sometimes that means you have to act them out with someone in real life to see if it’s really feasible for him to hit her as she’s jumping in the air. Just make sure you don’t actually hurt your volunteer.

-If a major character dies, don’t describe this in one paragraph and move on. This requires a prolonged scene with plenty of reaction to the death. Notice we’re talking about a single scene. Going on and on about someone’s death in every scene afterwards has to be done carefully or the character will seem weak and blubbery. While this is a horrible situation to overcome, the character must learn to deal with her grieve. Don’t forget she needs to grow. Not recovering from someone’s death isn’t showing growth.

Keeping these tips in mind when you’re writing or editing should help you create strong scenes.

Which tips have you used in the past? Which ones will you use now?

Lynnette Labelle


  1. This is a great post! Thank you so very much for sharing it with us. I can foresee me visiting your blog quite often!

  2. Oh that's so cool! I never would have thought of it that way before! Thanks so much for the advice!

  3. Awesome tips! They will come in handy with my revisions.

  4. Great stuff here! Conflict, scenes with strong pacing. Nice to have tips for that, thanks!

  5. Lucy: Nice to "meet" you.

    Jess, Christine, Carol, and j. littlejohn: Glad you liked the post.

    Lynnette Labelle

  6. I'm still working on the tension thing. It's the hardest for me. Sigh.

  7. Tension is the one I always try to keep in mind. Tension is what carries the scene from beginning to end. If you don't want to know what happens, why keep reading?

    One bit of advice I found recently that was helpful from Plot and Structure was to start out a scene with a strong hook and end with a prompt to tempt the reader to keep reading.

  8. Such a great post! Love visiting your blog!

    Lola x

  9. Lydia: Keep working on it. You'll get it. :)

    s.r. remmek: That's great advice! Thanks for sharing.

    Lola: Thanks for stopping by!

    Lynnette Labelle