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Scene Mastery – An Essential Skill for Novelists

Scenes are the backbone and heart of novels. There are many types of scenes and many ways to write them. Genre is the biggest concern because in order to write the perfect scenes for your story, you need to know who you are writing to.

Too often writers sit down and pull a scene out of their heads. They don’t spend much time planning the purpose of the scene. This speaks to a bigger issue: lack of overall plotting. If you don’t understand novel structure and what the key turning points are, you will find it challenging to write the kinds of scenes needed.

Certain types of scenes are found in different sections of a novel. Setup scenes are focused on setting up character and premise. Scenes near the climax are about high stakes and high energy.

I’ve written a lot of blog posts and book chapters on scenes, and if you aren’t a scene master, be sure to dig into these (and other) resources. Continue Reading…

Sign Up for the Nevada City Scene Mastery Boot Camp!

Time is running out to sign up for our Scene Mastery Boot Camp in Nevada City, CA. My co-instructor, Catharine Bramkamp, and I are putting on seven—yes, seven!—all over northern California.

Over the last few years, we’ve been doing boot camps in South Lake Tahoe, CA, just for plotting. But last year we added a Scene Mastery Boot Camp.

I added the Scene Boot Camp because I know how hard it is to craft a scene. There are so many considerations in the process, and I’ve never seen even a one-hour workshop on scene structure. And honestly, you can’t learn all you need to know about scene structure in one hour, let alone one day. Continue Reading…

How to Advance Your Plot with Careful Scene Design ~ 5 Steps

Plotting is complex, and whether you “wing it” or plot extensively, there are 5 key steps that will help you stay on track when brainstorming a scene. I’m reprinting a blog post I wrote a few years back to bring attention to these basic steps all novelists should consider when putting a scene together.

Writing scenes can be daunting, but, as with all novel components, it just takes time and effort to learn how to become a master scene crafter. The first step is getting the big picture of a scene.

What do I mean by that? Instead of thinking about the minute details you want to put in a scene, you first want to step back and consider a few things.

The Point

Each scene in your novel should be moving the plot forward. Each scene should reveal some new information, but not just anything—the information needs to help move the plot forward. The bottom line? Every scene must have a point to it or it shouldn’t be in your novel.

If you’ve been following my blog for some time, or you’ve read my writing craft books in The Writer’s Toolbox series, you’ve heard me spout this. When brainstorming your scene ideas, it’s crucial that you first consider the point of your scene. Continue Reading…

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