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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…

First Pages of Best-Selling Novels: Flight Behavior

This week, in our examination of first pages of best-selling novels, we’re taking a look at Barbara Kingsolver’s novel Flight Behavior (2012). We’re using my first-page checklist to go through an author’s first page to see why 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. )If you missed last week’s exploration, click here.)

Of course, the plot and premise of a novel is going to come into play here. Genre also influences what kind of opening scene will work best for a story. While there are a lot of ways an author might begin, regardless of genre, plot, and premise, opening pages need to grab readers’ attention and keep them reading.  Continue Reading…

The 5 Essential Components of Scene Structure

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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