Archive - Nailing Scene Structure RSS Feed

Scene Structure: Opening Hooks

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 Hook ‘Em on the First Cast:

 Hook, Line, and Sinker

What is a hook all about anyway? It’s a line that snags your reader and pulls them into the story. Often someone flipping through your book or looking at the first page online at Amazon.com will just read the first few lines. I have heard agents and acquisition editors say that they will pretty much decide to either stop or continue reading based on that first sentence, or possibly the first paragraph.

Yikes! So, that first line should be a doozy and one that really makes an impression. As I said before, don’t get so hung up on writing that first paragraph that you don’t move forward. You will probably come back and rewrite it, unless you came up with an opening line ages ago and now you’re finally putting that masterpiece in place. Sometimes as we’re writing our novel a great first line will come to us. Other times we’ll find a great first line somewhere on page three or four. Continue Reading…

How Writers Can Benefit by Outlining Their Scenes

We’re been taking a look at outlining scenes these last couple of weeks. Using my scene structure checklist, we’ve been seeing what elements are so necessary in scenes to ensure their structure is sound and they have all that’s needed to engage readers.

We’re in an age of “show, don’t tell,” and that means scenes are going to be packed full of action and dialogue and, well, showing instead of telling.

While many writers like to wing it, just writing off the cuff and creating scenes will only make revision harder in the long run. Scenes are the building blocks of a novel, and those who “pants” their way through scene writing will end up with a novel that is flawed structurally. Yes, this is just my opinion, one that I share with the top writing instructors and bloggers around. And I feel passionately about this.

You might argue that some very successful novelists, like Stephen King, are pantsers. But keep in mind, authors with decades of experience in writing dozens of novels usually have scene and novel structure hardwired into their brain. Just as with playing pro ball or snowboarding, once you become an expert, you don’t have to remind yourself what to do.

I’ve edited and critiqued countless manuscripts. I go through more than two hundred partial and full manuscripts a year. Most of them need a prodigious amount of work to get the structure solid. And most of those manuscripts have been carefully plotted and/or outlined. You can imagine what the unplotted manuscripts are like.  Continue Reading…

First Pages of Best-Selling Novels: Leaving Time

This week, in our examination of first pages of best-selling novels, we’re taking a look at a best-selling novel by Jodi Picoult called Leaving Time (2015). While this novel is categorized as a thriller, it’s really more Women’s Fiction.

We’re using my first-page checklist to go through each author’s first page to see why and how it effectively draws the reader quickly into the story. While novels don’t have to have every one of these checklist elements on the first page, usually the more they do have, the stronger the opening.

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors. She has great characters, terrific themes and motifs, and usually gets right into action in her opening scenes, setting up her premise with characters in the middle of a difficult situation.

A terrific example of another powerful intro is found in My Sister’s Keeper, another of Picoult’s many runaway best sellers. As with Leaving Time, she starts off with a prologue (when you have time, read it by looking inside the book here on Amazon). And since prologues have been the topic of debate for years, before we look at this particular prologue, I want to talk a little about this structure. Continue Reading…

Page 11 of 15« First...«910111213»...Last »