Archive - Nailing Scene Structure RSS Feed

Why Outlining Your Scenes Will Help You Write a Great Novel

One of the biggest problems I see as a copyeditor and writing coach is weak scenes. Scenes with no point to them. Scenes structured badly. Boring scenes, dragging scenes, repetitive scenes. Scenes are the pieces we string together to create a whole overarching story, but all too often writers include many scenes that just don’ work and shouldn’t be in their novel.

We’ve been going over the essentials components that make up a scene, and I hope by now you see that it isn’t just about going through a checklist of what to include. When crafting scenes, writers must keep in mind the overarching premise and plot, and purpose of the story, the character arc, and all the other elements of novel construction. Winging it instead of using a scene outline and checklist might be likened to trying to crest the top of a sand dune by tromping up the steep side instead of following the easy ridge. Continue Reading…

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…

Page 14 of 17« First...10«1213141516»...Last »