When writers start out, we tend to tell a lot. We like to write long, inert passages with one character thinking about stuff and we love flashbacks. What’s wrong with that?
Writing Tip for Today: There’s nothing “wrong” with any approach to writing. But when it comes to engaging the reader, scene writing gives us writers a far better chance of connecting. Here are some easy ways to write better scenes:
- It‘s a Movie! Write as if you were watching a movie unfold in your head. You’ll hear people talking, doing things and resolving conflict. The great thing about writing is that we can add sensory detail unavailable to film: smell, taste, touch. Using these concrete sensory details (CSD) helps the reader “be there.” This is what show, don’t tell really means.
- Grind that Ax. Good stories have a character who wants something and another character (or force of nature) determined not to let that character achieve the goal. If you write a story from your life, you’ll have an easier time if there is built-in tension, conflict, drama. Few readers want to commit to a story about a walk in the park unless there’s a mugger hiding in the bushes.
- More than Dialogue. Some writers overload scenes with dialogue, providing the spoken bits but little else. It’s fine to draft this way, but on revision, try to get all 11 elements of a scene in your work. Readers want to be immersed in your world, so give them as much pertinent info as you can.
- Eleven Elements of a Scene Refreshed:
POV (Point of View Character)
At least one more character
Quality of Light (Overcast, dark night, bright sun)
You may or may not use all eleven in a single scene, but try to provide as much CRITICAL info as possible.