Scene Writing for Total Experience

The manuscripts of new writers often have an identifying feature: that of scenic elements not working together. What do I mean?
Writing Tip for Today: When you imagine your book’s scenes, all the elements necessary are integrated. Yet when it comes to writing the scene, these same elements often form little cliques, where each ingredient stands off by itself. Here are a few tips to help your scenes provide the reader with a total experience:

  • Setting Counts. Remember that the setting recedes very quickly in a reader’s mind. If you begin the scene with a description of the place, but then don’t remind the reader periodically, that setting will not stand out in the reader’s mind. Any time the reader isn’t sure where the scene takes place, you are in danger of losing that reader.
  • Use Dialogue Well. Beware the Talking Heads, Speech givers and Encyclopedic Dialogue. For that total experience, readers want reminders about setting, including the quality of light; they want interior thoughts and emotions, and they want action.
  • Weave Your Scenes. In addition to the characters and their conflict, learn to weave in the setting, the lighting, the atmosphere, the body language and interior emotions. If you keep all the elements separated, it results in chunks that don’t work together. By reminding the reader of scenic elements around and through the scene, you’ll be forced to cut down on long descriptions or dialogue that’s convenient for the author. Weaving scenic elements into a total experience (like a movie) takes practice but is well worth the effort.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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