There are many elements used to create stories, and each of them play a role in revealing a satisfactory narrative. These elements are broken down from the essential idea, to characters (we broke down how to create a great character here), and now to settings and locations. Without the detail of scenery, the characters and ideas would have no place to exist; so, the scenes then are the weaving material between the concepts that make up our stories. Imagine your favorite novel in its entirety, excluding the set. It would make the story much more difficult to understand. Either way, we will provide some easy to follow and informative suggestions when launching your scenes!
First let’s agree that we can break scenes down into three/ four essential parts, a beginning, middle—climax, and end. Additionally, we want to acknowledge the internal elements, like the moods and tones of the scene; while examining external ones and using them as our narrative’s canvas.
Now that we understand the structure, take a look below at some of the suggestions we found most useful for our own projects:
- Understand your scene’s purpose. Actions produce reactions, cause us to process and decide to make new actions in waking life, so this idea should be used when knowing the purpose of your character’s scene. For instance, if a character is being deployed and leaving the love of his life for over a year’s time; my scene’s purpose would be to encapsulate the young couple’s love while reflecting the pain they both may be feeling. Make sense?
- Determine its high moment. This mostly occurs at the end of a scene—likely the last line. Why? Because if the tension is enough to cause a scene to effectively hang at the end, your reader will be driven to the next.
- Pace your action. It has been told to blurt out all of your action in the beginning of each scene, but it is important to pace as well. Start your action soon so that it has momentum to ignite the reader but release the action in a way that the climax is never overshadowed.
- Spotlight character change. Your character should be changed by what happens. That change can be subtle or huge; can involve a change of opinion or could be a monumental personality shift. Every event in your story or novel should impact your characters and foment change. Writing instructor James Scott Bell says, “Every scene should have a death”—of a dream, a relationship, or a plan. Consider that when formatting your characters into their scenes.
- Leave out the boring stuff. Save time by beginning with summary. Sometimes actions can take up more time and space in the scene than you may like so eliminate the extraneous detail that only drags out the action. Inject important backstory but not that the present action’s expense. Cut anything that does not serve your scene’s purpose and make every word count!
- Polish your endings and beginnings. Scenes should be designed to entertain and evoke emotion from your reader from the novel’s first line. Pay attention to how best- selling authors in genres you love create strong opening and closing scenes.
- Dive into sensory detail. Lastly, don’t shy away from detail. Reassess your draft and begin bringing scenes to life with vivid detail that engage your reader’s senses. Remember that too much detail is boring, as re ones that don’t reveal anything important.
Scenes are framework and take time to develop. Use these suggestions the next time you’re crafting your perfect scene!
Have any story creating suggestions? At Syllble we love writing stories together, but we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to create ourselves. Drop your own suggestions in the comments below!
Community Manager + Contributer