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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…

The Nuances of Deep POV – Part 2

We’re taking some time to look at deep POV, mainly because I see violations running rampant in the manuscripts I edit and critique. So much so, it feels like a horde of orcs storming the castle doors.

We looked last week at some basic issues surrounding deep POV. I talked about how every line in every scene should sound like your POV character. That includes the narrative. Anytime your writing sounds like you, you, the author, are intruding.

I also explained how, when you “show” instead of “tell,” you are only going to show what your POV character is thinking and feeling in any given moment. And those things must be in context. Meaning, the events transpiring should organically trigger those thoughts and reactions and be pertinent to what is going on.

But there is so much more to deep POV, and in this post we’re going to look at some more issues to help you understand and master this imporant technique of being deep in POV.

Today’s readers want to be immersed in our stories. Unlike in the past, when most novels were heavy on narrative, backstory, and explanation, today’s great novels are all about show, don’t tell. And that requires going deep into characters’ heads. Continue Reading…

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