An Easy Way To Write Scenes

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by Suzanne D. Williams

I taught myself how to write, developing a method over time that, though unusual by some standards, really worked for me. I do what I’ve recently heard called “writing in the dark.” Without an outline or character charts, without backstory, I take the barest concept for a story, sit down, and write. This makes writing fun for me because I don’t know where the story is going until I get there.

I write by the scene, asking certain questions in my head about point of view, character motivation, and the overall purpose of that scene, as I go. Knowing how to write scenes came relatively easy. I watch a lot of crime drama, and though much of it is unrealistic, look at any episode, and it is broken up into scenes. Break up the scene into parts and, generally speaking, you have the following:

the Entrance, the Action, the Final Hook

The Entrance can be hard or soft. Meaning, it starts with a crime in commission. It’s the dead of night and your antagonist is creeping around, peering in someone’s home. Or the Entrance could be a light-hearted moment. The protagonist is lounging at their desk, chatting with their friends.

The hard entrance reintroduces the plot, carrying over from the previous scene. There should be a tie-in, something that you’ve stated before that comes back up, whether in the characters actions or thoughts, or perhaps a continuation of something that was happening and didn’t fully complete. The soft entrance gives the reader a glimpse into the character’s personality. This is an opportunity to mention more personal things, their feelings about other characters or to put in some backstory. But, as with a hard entrance, what is said, even if it is new information, should tie to all that went before.

It’s important to have both types of scene entrances within a book and to interchange them, as the story progresses. The reason why involves the movement of the storyline itself, which brings us to the second part of the scene.

The Action might seem obvious. It’s the plot that drives the scene forward. But there are types of action. Like the Entrance, they can be hard – lots of movement in a quick manner. Or soft – a more laid-back moment, the character daydreaming or talking with a sub-character. Both are needed and both are written because of the scenes that came before it.

And that is the key. No scene works independently of the other but functions to add to what you’ve already written (think of it like links on a chain), and it points to what will come next. A lot of the Action comes with logic (and genre). The writer knows what the protagonist CAN AND CANNOT DO, and as the story progresses, what their personality would CHOOSE to do. There are also independent moments where something is introduced, simply to see how they would deal with it. These events can turn the story. 

They all lead up to the Final Hook. Look, again, at a television program. Scenes typically end on a cliffhanger-style moment. That gasp where you want to know what might happen. Or the scene ties up something that’s been fluttering around in midair for a while. A Closure, if you will.

Closures, themselves, can be misleading, though. One minute you think one Action will happen, the next minute it becomes clear, things are taking another track. But make sure if you choose to mislead your readers that it’s logical, it COULD happen, and in the reader’s mind it’s OKAY if it happens. This recalls me to a book series I read where I loved Book 1 but hated Book 2. The author argued Book 2 had to happen, but in my mind, I was too upset to read any more of the series. Readers who are emotionally invested in a story will get angry if things don’t pan out a certain way. Consider that when you write the scene.

Writing in this manner, thinking only of the current scene, means I rarely get stuck, and if I do, it’s less writer’s block than I’m unsure of one of these elements. Whose point-of-view am I in? What’s the purpose of choosing that character? What will happen with the Action to drive me to where I want the story to be? Until I can answer all the questions, generally I stop writing.

But the answer always comes. Some days there are too many distractions to see it, and that’s perfectly normal. I don’t beat myself up for not knowing. I accept that I will know eventually and, meanwhile, I work on something else. Because writing is, foremost, supposed to be enjoyable for me, the writer, and though I like not knowing, I like the discoveries along the way, it helps to have a method that works toward completion.

Writing “the end” is my goal, after all.

When did they become more than a professor and his student?

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About The Author:

Suzanne D. WilliamsBest-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.

To learn more about what she’s doing and check out her extensive catalog of stories, visit www.feelgoodromance.com or link with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/suzannedwilliamsauthor or on Twitter at twitter.com/SDWAuthor 

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