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Scene Structure: The #1 Objective for Your Novel

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 The #1 Objective for Your Novel:

So . . . what is the number one objective in writing your novel? (Drum roll . . .)

To elicit emotion.

Not any one specific emotion, but some emotion.

And you should have an idea of what kind of emotion you’d like to incite in your reader. But that’s your aim—to move your reader. Continue Reading…

First Pages of Best-Selling Novels: The Martian

The Martian is a beautifully structured novel (and a terrific movie), and it draws readers right into the story on the first page. For those who saw the movie, you’ll notice the novel doesn’t begin the same way. It begins in a better way for a book because rather than focus on the plot events that lead up to Mark Watney being left behind on Mars, it gets you right where you need to be—in Mark’s head and hearing his voice.

The Martian is a great example of strong first-person character voice. Perhaps (to me) the most engaging and powerful element you can introduce on your first page is a compelling character.

Sure, it’s important to have that character be doing something that is interesting, but often first scenes start out with little happening, as we saw in the last two overviews (See Me and Flight Behavior). Neither of those novels had characters doing much other than thinking, and that’s not always easy to pull off well.

The challenge with that type of opening is to make the writing style and the character’s personality strong enough that they intrigue the reader without the need for dynamic action. Putting a “nonactive” character in a curious or dangerous predicament can also create that tension to hook readers. Continue Reading…

Scene Structure and Character Arc

Novels are about characters—characters who undergo significant change. Or, at least the protagonist should. A novel in which the protagonist doesn’t learn, grow, or change is a stagnant novel.

We write novels to take readers on a journey. Usually that is some kind of transformational journey. Readers want to go through the struggles and challenges the character faces and witness this transformation.

What’s a Character Arc Really About?

What am I talking about? Does a character have to have some huge revelation at the climax? Does he need to change his life? Transformation doesn’t have to be huge, and the scope and type of transformation can be influenced by genre. However, even with genres that focus predominately on action—dynamic plot developments—it can be said that those types of books will be better stories if they include some character transformation. Continue Reading…

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