A scene is a sequence of events occurring at a particular time and place and moves the story forward. A story or novel comprises many scenes, which are the building blocks of your novel and serve a specific purpose.
A scene can include narrative, dialogue, thought, action, sensory descriptions, and interior emotions. Each scene should have a goal of driving the plot forward. Weak scenes can affect sub-plots, the main plot, character development, or the entire novel.
Weak scenes can be identified by:
- lack of focus on the plot
- undeveloped character motivation
- weakness in characters’ personalities or actions that don’t fit the character
- excessive dialogue that doesn’t go anywhere
- too much introspection or thoughts always preceding actions
- not enough tension
To strengthen a scene, consider these five tips to write a strong scene.
- Action before thought.
Thoughts before actions can give away details or an impending action. Thought carries more weight when it follows the action. Consider how this example would give away the action if the thought came first.
Becca dumped the plate of spaghetti over Mark’s head. Mark stood from the table and leaned toward Becca, anger flashing in his eyes. What have I done? Becca thought and scooted her chair back from the table.
- Reveal necessary information before action.
Information can be used for foreshadowing and setting up action later in the scene. Opening sentences can easily lead to action.
Example 1: The blizzard coated the roads in a thick layer of snow and ice.
Example 2: The fire had reached the second floor before I arrived.
Example 3: The drive had been long and uneventful. Miranda looked forward to the peace and quiet of staying at the cabin in the woods.
- Use scenery to set the tone.
Describe scenery in a way that sets the tone, mood, and/or emotion of the scene. Scenery can also be described in a way that foreshadows what might happen by evoking feelings such as fear, mystery, darkness, danger, excitement, or happiness.
- Action should fit the characters.
Unless there is a clearly defined explanation, a character should not act in a way that contradicts his/her established personality. A timid, shy character wouldn’t suddenly stand his/her ground and dictate to others. A domineering bossy character might belittle others in a way that adds conflict, but he/she wouldn’t easily give in to someone else’s demands.
- Don’t procrastinate with action.
This can slow the pace, make a scene drag on endlessly, and lose the effect behind the intended action. In some cases, this can also make a character appear weak and indecisive. Compare the two examples below.
Example 1: Nicholas drew his dagger from his scabbard and joined the fight.
Example 2: Nicholas looked at the men fighting before him and wondered if he should join the fight. He took two steps forward and stopped. He pulled his dagger from his scabbard. With his dagger drawn, he joined the fight.
[…] Five tips to write a strong scene. Learn how to identify weak scenes. Strengthen your novel by writing strong scenes. […]
These are great tips. I’m going to have to check out more of the site.
Thank you, Vanessa. I hope you do check out more of the site. Let me know if there is something you’d like to see. 🙂
I’m really happy I discovered this site! I enjoy writing fiction and this is a really useful resource.
Thank you for visiting. What type of fiction do you write? I hope your writing is going smoothly.
Super good tips. I printed #2 and popped it above my computer as a reminder while I write.
What a brilliant tips and ideas! Glad I found this! i know someone who really need this.
Lately I seem to hear “be concise” A Lot! I guess that’s kinda what I am taking away from this is that one should explain what needs to be explained and nothing more. Great tips!
A similar sequence could be used for other types of writing too. This is a great resource for writers.
Everyone, from a school stud to a teacher or blogger will be benefitted from the article. It’s so well-written. Loved it.
Those are some great tips for writers. I’m not very good at writing, I have not found my voice yet. I want to learn more ad get better. Great article.
I will keep these tips in mind. I do enjoy writing books. I’m not the best at describing scenery.
These are great tips! I don’t often write items like this, but it is still great knowledge!
This wonderful post has given me clarity through defining a scene, what makes a good one, and specifically what makes a bad one. Thank you for this information and for educating me =) xo
You’ve provided some wonderful tips for aspiring writers. I’ll be referring a few friends who write fiction to your site!
These are some great tips for people who are looking to get into writing. I know a few friends who are hoping to write a book so I will share it with them!
these tips were incredibly useful. i feel like especially when i have writers block they could help, or when im writing about a difficult moment.
This reminds me of what my literature teacher used to talk about. This was fantastic information
Such great tips. Will pass this info to my girls as well. They are writing so much this days. Whether for fun or for school.
Such great tips for writing! I will definitely refer back to these when I have writer’s block.
Creative writing is such a fantastic art! We love all these tips, especially how to set the tone through the scene.
Thanks for these tips, I think identifying the weak and strong scene is needed even in writing content. I’m following “POWER” writing but I need to identify these 2 scenes..
I have some favorite writers who’s scenes are absolutely great and I can see exactly why after reading this. Great post!
These are some very helpful tips. I have a writer friend who would really enjoy this.
I think these are great pointers to remember. I really appreciate and glad to come across your post.
This is a great guide for writers. We just had some authors visit our school and share a lot of information about craft with our students.
Hello i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anyplace. Your articles are easy to read and teach me much.
I like the helpful information you supply in your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check again right here frequently. I’m quite certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff right here!
Hello, I enjoyed reading through your article. I like to write a little comment to support you.
Saved as a favorite, I love your website!
Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this site. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very hard to get that “perfect balance” between usability and appearance. I must say you have done a very good job with this. Also, the blog is wonderful!
You must log in to post a comment.