You’re writing fiction. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying: show, don’t tell?
“Show, don’t tell,” is shorthand for write in scenes and it’s a vital skill.
Writing fiction: why is “writing in scenes” so important?
Essentially, writing in scenes helps you to write exciting, unputdownable books. In today’s publishing climate they’re the kinds of books you MUST write if you want sales.
My students often find writing fiction challenging because they’re confused about scenes, which are the basic building blocks of fiction. I end up saying: “You have some wonderful ideas here. Let’s develop them…” This means rewriting and developing scenes.
When you understand the value of of scenes, you can write better novels faster, and have more fun too.
Uncertain about what a “scene” might be?
But… what’s a “scene”?
A scene happens in real time. I’m fond of saying that a scene is “a unit of action.” Yes, I know… that’s probably as clear as mud. Think of it this way: in a scene, you “show”, from the point of view of a single character, from go to whoa.
In each scene, the reader identifies with your Point of View (POV) character; the reader is seeing what the POV character sees, touching what he touches, and feeling what he feels.
Make every effort to stay inside a single point of view in a scene, don’t wander outside it. “Head-hopping”, jumping from one point of view to another inside a scene, isn’t effective, and you can confuse the reader.
Writing in scenes makes plotting easier.
How to develop an exciting plot, scene by scene (it’s easy)
Struggle with plotting and outlines? Write in scenes. You’ll meet your readers’ expectations for unputdownable fiction—and your novels will sell.
Use this simple strategy:
- When you get an idea for a novel, create a one-sentence summary of it. Let’s say you’re writing a mystery thriller: “A newly-widowed lawyer discovers her late husband’s secrets; her daughter is kidnapped to prevent her revealing them.”
- Make a list of major scenes. What needs to happen in the novel? One scene might be: the widow learns she didn’t know her husband at all. Another (obvious) scene: she discovers that her daughter has been kidnapped.
- Start writing the first scene you thought of. This scene might occur anywhere: in the beginning, middle or end of your novel. Further scenes will occur to you while you’re writing.
- Write your novel scene by scene. Your story will take shape. Scrivener makes it easy to write in scenes; each scene is a document.
- String your scenes together with narrative… And before you know it, your novel is written.
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.