Novelists concentrate on writing scenes to tell a story, and rightly so. I list the Eleven Elements of a scene for new writers to help them write more complete experiences. Readers want a scene to be about a character or two, at a time and place. Readers want action and dialogue and lots of CSD (Concrete Sensory Detail). Yet so often a drafted scene feels static. What’s the remedy?
Writing Tip for Today: The most essential ingredient of a scene is CHANGE. Something must change. Why else would we read about it?
- The change must be an integral part of the larger story, an occurrence which moves the story forward toward a goal.
- The change can be internal or external, but it must have something to do with the story and/or character’s motivation.
- Change or the promise of impending change provides tension and conflict.
- In the first and second acts of a story, most changes are better off being reversals or misfortune. By keeping the reader hoping for a change for the better, the writer is able to manage the reader’s reactions.
- If nothing much changes in a scene, either rewrite it with “what’s at stake?” in mind or jettison.