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What You Might Not Know about Scene Middles

As we continue our look at scene structure and get into middles, I’d first like to talk about overall scene type. There are no set rules to how to construct a scene, how a scene should start or end, or how long it should be. But one of the best things a writer can do with scenes is vary them.

Start one scene in the middle of dialogue, then pull back to show the setting and situation the character is neck-deep in. Then start the next scene with action. Then the next with a brief bit of internal thought or narrative. Variety keeps things interesting.

However, with scene length, that might create some disjointedness, if you have a three-page scene or chapter followed by a twenty-five-page scene, then a twelve-page scene. Studying novels in your genre should give you a good idea of scene/chapter length, and I highly recommend taking the time to do so. Continue Reading…

Scene Structure: Establishing Your Setting

For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we’re looking at excerpts from past posts on Live Write Thrive that tie in with our exploration on scene structure.

From An Introduction to Stationary Camera Shots:

Setting Up the Scene: Establishing Shots

Establishing Shots are critical in a film. They clue the viewer where this next scene is about to take place. Each time the location of a scene shifts, a new establishing shot does exactly what its name implies: it establishes where the story will now continue, and fiction writers need to do the same thing. The purpose is to give a general impression rather than specific information.

Often a Long Shot is used for an Establishing Shot, but not all Long Shots are Establishing Shots, so those will be discussed in another chapter. Although Establishing Shots are mostly used at the beginning of a scene to set the locale, they can also be used at the end of a segment to provide a revealing or unexpected context, which can pack a big punch when offering the audience a surprising twist tied into the setting or landscape. Continue Reading…

First Pages of Best-Selling Novels: The Way of Kings

We’ve been examining the first pages of best sellers these past weeks and have looked at quite a variety so far—of writing styles and genre. We note with a lot of these successful novels that their first pages are often creatively done and “break the rules” regarding narrative, telling instead of showing, getting right into action, and having the main character quickly engage in dialogue or some other interaction with other characters.

While these rules are often repeated to writers, it’s clear they can be broken. What’s the point of “rules” then? Good question. Experienced novelists may open their story with enough essential ingredients that they still grab readers and arouse mystery and curiosity.

As you read these weekly posts and examine novels on your own, pay attention to the elements these proficient writers introduce right away that work. As you can see in these breakdowns using my first-page checklist, most of the important features of a successful first page are nailed by these authors. They may have mostly narrative and no dialogue. They may even open with the weather (heaven forbid!). They sometimes use a lot of passive sentence construction.

I think Robert Goolrick deliberately tried to break every rule in his best seller A Reliable Wife. His novel starts with twenty pages of nothing happening. A man stands on a railway platform waiting for a train. There is no action or dialogue. And yes, it starts with the weather and the first sentence begins with “It was . . .” While I didn’t care for the novel myself, many rave about it. Just shows there is room for a lot of variety in styles and tastes. Continue Reading…

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