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The 2 Key Elements That Make a Great Scene

Writing great scenes takes a lot of practice and know-how. There are so many elements that must work beautifully, perhaps magically, to draw in readers and get them hooked.

It’s crucial you deeply understand the exact genre you are writing in because those readers who pick up your book have expectations. And you must meet those expectations, or you are going to disappoint them.

It’s as simple as that.

Look Carefully at First Scenes

I’ve written thousands of words in my books and blog posts about first scenes. In fact, I have an entire book devoted to just first pages of best sellers—analyzing, tearing them apart, to show you what works and what doesn’t.

You should be doing this same type of homework, whether you write fiction or nonfiction. There is a target audience for your book, possibly hundreds of thousands of readers—readers who would love your book. Continue Reading…

Choosing the Right Scenes to Go in the Right Places

My guess is that few novel writers spend time thinking about scene choice or type and the placement of specific types of scenes in a novel. Yet, it’s the key to solid story structure.

What do I mean?

Scenes are the backbone and heart of novels. There are many types of scenes and many ways to write them. Genre is the biggest concern because in order to write the perfect scenes for your story, you need to know whom you are writing to.

Too often writers sit down and pull a scene out of their heads. They don’t spend much time planning the purpose of the scene. This speaks to a bigger issue: lack of overall plotting. If you don’t understand novel structure and what the key turning points are, you will find it challenging to write the kinds of scenes needed.

Certain types of scenes are found in different sections of a novel. Setup scenes are focused on setting up character, conflict, stakes, and premise in the opening scenes. Scenes near the climax are about high stakes and high energy.

Middle scenes are about progress and setback, rise in action, twists and victories. Later scenes are intensified in action, emotion, stakes, consequences.

In general, scenes are either low-energy or high-energy. Too many introspective scenes showing characters sitting around thinking will bore readers. Conversely, too many back-to-back action scenes with little down time or character processing will tire readers and cause them to disengage with the characters. Continue Reading…

The Nuances of Deep POV – Part 3

Deep POV is all about readers experiencing sensory details through a character.

Writers know they need sensory details in their books. But here’s what a lot of writers do. They have a scene start off showing a character somewhere, and we get what feels like a laundry list of visuals to show the place he’s in—if even that much.

Maybe he’ll hear something—but it won’t tell us anything useful, like the sound of the clock ticking by the bed (do clocks tick anymore?).

We need to be aware of two key things: what the POV character is feeling and experiencing in that moment and what genre you’re writing in. The first concern determines what your character will notice and react to and how. The second concern speaks to the way you, the writer, should present these details—the writing style, the amount of detail, the tone, and everything related to genre.

Much to most people’s surprise, we have more than twenty senses that the brain combines and interprets to form a map of reality. Yet, so many writers fail to include even the five general senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. They rely almost exclusively on visual descriptions, with the occasional sound or smell as an afterthought. Continue Reading…

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