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How Writers Can Create Continuity in Showing the Passing of Time

Continuity is so important in a novel. Readers should be able to move from one scene to the next without effort. Without struggling to figure out when the scene is taking place and how much time has passed since the prior scene with your characters.

Scenes are strung together, like pearls in a strand. Each should be flawless and beautiful and contribute to the overall effect of the story. One of the ways to ensure your scenes are strung together effectively is to examine the way you move from one scene to the next.

We’ve covered most of the items in my scene structure checklist since the year began, and I hope these posts are helping you to get scene structure under your belt. Faulty scenes are the most problematic issue I see in the critiques I do, and that’s why we’re taking time to go deep. Continue Reading…

Scene Structure: Endings—Inevitable or Unpredictable?

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 Inevitable Ending You Know Is Coming:

As contradictory as this might sound, endings in novels need to seem inevitable without being predictable. When your reader finishes the book , she should feel that this was the only  way it could have ended. Everything has led up to this finale, and it just plays out perfectly. This isn’t predictability. You don’t want readers thinking they knew exactly what was going to happen and are bored as they hurriedly flip through the last pages of the book.

Recently I read a couple of award-winning sci-fi novels that were really pretty good until about the last fifty pages. I found myself starting to skim through the inevitable spaceship battles and the endings—to the point that I didn’t really read the last chapters. Such a difference from Orson Scott Card’s masterpiece Ender’s Game, considered one of the all-time greatest sci-fi books written (and I agree!). The surprise twist at the climax and the completely unexpected ending blew me away. Yet, I could say it was the best (and truly only) ending for the book, and entirely unpredictable. Continue Reading…

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…

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