Tag Archive - scene essentials

10 Questions to Help Fiction Writers “Set the Stage”

One of the primary objectives and responsibilities of a fiction writer is to transport readers into the world of their story.

However, it’s easier said than done. You, the writer, must visualize your scene—where your characters are, what the place looks and feels like—with enough detail that you can play out the action in your head.

There are two potential problems here. First: if you don’t spend enough time truly bringing that stage to life, it isn’t going to come across to your readers. But, second, you have to decide how much detail to convey.

No reader wants six pages of furniture description. Yet, without some description, readers aren’t transported. So what’s a writer to do?

Only What She Notices

Here’s the best place to start when considering what to include in your setup of time and place: your POV character’s head.

Because every scene needs to be in POV—meaning shown only through the eyes and thoughts of one character who is “experiencing” and processing the action of the scene—it’s all about what she notices.

When you walk into a room, what do you notice? Continue Reading…

The Key to Creating a Wholly Believable Character

Last week I talked about the natural action-reaction cycle that’s such an important issue in fiction writing. So many manuscripts I critique are missing key reactions from characters. This oversight—and I believe that’s what usually causes this problem—is similar to scenes lacking appropriate description of setting or characters.

Writers see their scenes in their heads, and often while attempting to get all the many details down and locked in, they fail to pay attention to these nuances and trimmings. Yes, it’s often easier to come back later and fill those in—bring in sensory elements and the touches of description that help bring a scene to life.

And writers can certainly add in those needed reactions as well. So long as they can spot what’s missing.

While a lack of description details can be easy to spot and subsequently provide, if a writer doesn’t really get the natural flow of action-reaction, he won’t know it’s missing. Or know how to insert it so it’s believable. Continue Reading…

The Cycle of Action-Reaction in Novel Scenes

You’re in the middle of reading a book. Suddenly you hear a loud crash outside. It sounds as if a tree just fell on your garage. You run outside and into your driveway. Your mouth drops open.

A spaceship—or what appears to be one—has nosedived into your garage and your brand-new BMW is crushed.

You . . .

  1. Stomp your feet and fume. Now you’re going to have to call a tow truck and haul your baby to a repair shop. And what’s the likelihood you’ll get your $1,000 deductible back? I mean, really, who exactly can you file a claim against? you wonder as you stare at the clearly alien vehicle that is smoldering on your roof.
  2. Totally freak out in fear. Seriously—aliens have invaded Earth, and they just happened to have crashed your house. Panic strikes as you worry about your three kitties. Where are they, and can you round them up before Martians make a quick lunch of them? They eat cats, right? You go screaming into the house.
  3. You stand in awe. How cool is this? Good thing you have your smartphone in your pocket. Think how much money you’ll make selling the video of the first aliens on Earth. You can hardly control your wiggling and squealing as you wait for some door to open on the spacecraft.

Continue Reading…

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