Tag Archive - High moments in scenes

The Secret Formula to Writing the Commercially Successful Novel

I’ve been writing novels for more than three decades, and while I have learned a lot about how unpredictable the market is, there are some specific characteristics that have consistently set apart novels that see success. You’d think every informed novel-writer would know what these are.

Here’s the thing:

I critique more than 200 manuscripts a year (95% novels). Even the best ones seem to be missing the key ingredients for a commercial best seller.

Why is that?

Because few writers have learned the specific elements that identify a great novel with great potential. And many of those elements are not what the average fiction writer is taught.

Sure, you need a great plot, an intriguing and fresh premise, terrific characters. And your scenes need to be tight time capsules of “show, don’t tell.”

But a terrific commercially viable novel has so much more. And few books or writing instructors teach what these essential elements are.

Continue Reading…

The Challenge of Creating Powerful Settings

Setting is so often overlooked or pushed to the background in fiction. But it is, perhaps, one of the most powerful elements of a story. If you aren’t thinking carefully about the settings in your story, I hope you’ll think again. Setting isn’t just where your overall story is set, it’s all those locations you set invidual scenes in.

We spend a lot of our time at work and home, and occasionally at those restaurants and coffee shops, but that is ordinary life. And while we want to show our characters in their ordinary lives (at least sometimes), readers don’t want “boring.” 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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