Scenes In Fiction: 5 Powerful Writing Tips

Scenes In Fiction: 5 Powerful Writing Tips

Are you a beginning fiction writer? Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had several requests for “fiction writing tips”. My most important tip: learn how scenes work in your fiction. Knowing how scenes work will make all the difference to your fiction.

You may be wondering… what’s a scene? Basically, a scene is a unit of action. I went into detail on how to write scenes in this blog post, Write Hot Scenes For Bestselling Fiction: 5 Magical Tips. Read the article: scenes are the building blocks of fiction, and the better your scenes, the better your fiction.

Writing tips to make sense of scenes

In Writing Fiction: Think in Scenes For Easy Planning, Writing, and Revision I encouraged you to focus on emotions in writing fiction:

Emotions rule us — it’s the way we’re built. Emotion is the reason our stone age ancestors survived. If your stone age ancestor Freddie saw the smudge of large tiger-sized paw print in the dirt, he knew enough to run, or at least be wary. Because he survived, you were born.

To write great stories, you need to get on familiar terms with your own emotions, the emotions of those around you, and of course — your characters’ emotions. The more you can do that, the more your writing will improve.

If you remember to show EMOTIONS, it will help you to write great scenes.

Important: please don’t label an emotion, and call it done. When you write: “he was angry”, that’s not showing emotion. Let your readers see his face reddening, or paling. Describe the way he puffs himself up like a bullfrog, and throws plates across the room.

Show emotions, always.

Watch people around you, and yourself. How do people act when they’re angry, or scared, or bored? What thoughts go through your head when you’re angry, or sad?

Now let’s look at some writing tips which will help you to write powerful scenes.

1. Give readers the emotional charge they want (what’s the genre?)

If you’re a movie fan, you know that movies made from novels are usually much less satisfying than the novels themselves. Why? One reason: a novel reveals characters’ emotions, via their thoughts, and we experience what the character experiences.

Let’s say you’re writing a short story, which consists of five scenes.

In the first scene, the one that sets up your story, one of your female characters, Tiffany, is shown to be a chatterbox, and this has consequences. She shares a bit of gossip about her love life with another character. Someone overhears — Pamela, the wife of the man with whom Tiffany is having an affair.

You’re telling the story from the point of view of Pamela. What does Pamela feel, and how do you reveal what she feels? Your aim is to get readers to feel Pamela’s emotions — to experience them — via Pamela’s thoughts and actions. When you explore your characters’ emotions: you feel them, and you show them, readers will feel the emotions too.

Genre is a big clue to the emotions you develop in a short story, or a novel. In a romance, readers want the passion of love, in a mystery, readers want to be challenged to solve a puzzle.

Get clear on the emotional charge readers want from the genre in which you’re writing.

2. Bored? Delete the scene OR look for the emotion

You’ve finished writing your novel.

Read it, without making notes, or editing.

Look for scenes in which the story drags. You can recognize these scenes, because you skip paragraphs and your mind wanders; you’re bored.

Either delete those scenes, or rewrite them.

When you’re rewriting, focus on what the characters in a scene are feeling, and show those emotions.

3. Enter on ACTION: exit with the scene’s sequel

A scene is a unit of action. Your point of view character in the scene has a goal, and goes after it. In the scene, something happens.

The scene is followed by the scene’s sequel. A scene’s sequel is essentially just the character’s recognition that something has changed — more on that in a moment.

Since a scene is a unit of action, make the action, action — make it physical.

Let’s say you have a scene in which a character drives from one location to another. Nothing much happens. Your character is thinking about — whatever.

Kick the scene along. Make something happen. Sticking with our Tiffany/ Pamela story. Pamela’s driving home from work — that’s her goal in the scene, to get home. She’s thinking about her situation. Will she confront her husband?

You need to make something happen. So Pamela sees Tiffany’s car, and she follows it.

To repeat: in every scene you write, something happens.

4. What changes? Every scene must change something, or it’s not a scene

To write effective scenes:

  • Focus on the emotion;
  • Make something happen;
  • Ensure that something changes — and that something must be related to the point of your story;
  • Your character reflects on the change in the scene’s followup: the sequel.

In our Tiffany/ Pamela story, something happened. Pamela saw Tiffany’s car, and followed it. Did the scene change Pamela?

That depends on the way you handle the scene. So handle it so that something changes. At the beginning of the scene, Pamela was a certain kind of person. At the end of the scene, she’s changed: she’s the kind of person who follows her husband’s mistress’s car.

Pamela recognizes that she’s changed in the scene sequel.

Tip: don’t stop the scene for the sequel. In our Tiffany/ Pamela scene, the sequel happens while Pamela’s following Tiffany.

5. Look for ways to jazz up your scenes with secrets, subtext, and humor

When you write your scene, initially you just want to write it. You need to get all the elements down. When you’ve finished your novel, or short story, you can rewrite your scenes, to make them more powerful.

There are endless ways to make scenes more powerful. You can reveal characters’ secrets, charge your dialogue with subtext, and look for ways in which to add humor.

Secrets are easy. Just give each of your main characters a secret.

“Subtext” is the real meaning behind a character’s words. On the surface your characters may be having a conversation. Their conversations’ subtext might be something very different from the surface meaning of their words. Writing subtext can be challenging, so if you’re a new writer, don’t strive for it. Let it happen naturally.

All fiction benefits from a little comic relief.

You don’t need slapstick humor. Create a pet dog, cat or hamster for humor, and to make your characters more likable.

So there you have it; five writing tips to help you to write more powerful scenes. When you use these tips, not only will readers avidly read your fiction — you’ll enjoy writing fiction too. Have fun. 🙂

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

5 Writing Tips: How To Write, No Matter What

How To Write, No Matter What: 5 Ways

Got a writing habit? Writers who realize the importance of rituals and writing habits write more, more easily. They also sell more of their writing. Let’s look at five writing tips which will help you to write, no matter what.

5 writing tips to help you to write, no matter what

These tips are in no particular order. Do yourself a huge favor, and use them.

1. Write about it: write about your writing tasks

I’ve often shared my favorite writing acronym: DDT — Do, Don’t Think. It’s my favorite acronym, because I find myself sharing it with a depressed writer at least once a week.

The secret of writing is… writing. Writers write: you’ve heard that before, I’m sure. Here’s a wonderful quote from Barbara Fine Clouse: “The act of writing stimulates thought, so when you cannot think of anything to write, start writing anyway.”

Consider this: the biggest mistake you can make with your writing is not writing. Stop thinking about writing. Solve your writing problems on the page (or on the computer screen.)

Here’s a scenario. You’ve been commissioned to write a business plan. You have no idea what a business plan looks like. So, you either avoid writing completely (even though the deadline is coming closer and closer), or you sit and stare at your computer screen.

Try this:

  • Make a list of questions. Start with the simplest question: “What’s a business plan?” Keep listing questions, down the page.
  • Next, answer your questions. If you don’t know an answer, write about where you might find the answer, and make a list of who might help you.

The question/ answer process is a no-brainer. It starts where you are. Assure yourself that no question is “stupid”.

Here’s another scenario. You want to write a novel. What do you do? Start writing with these words: “Once upon a time”. Keep writing.

This process works when you don’t have an idea in your head. I start all my novels and short stories much like this, with a simple sentence.

You can write about your project whenever you’re stuck. Your “about” writing may contain a lot of whining… 😉 That’s great. Whine away, as long as you’re writing, you’re doing fine.

2. Take your writing with you

I’m a great believer in taking your writing with you. Here’s why: when you’re away from your home office, you’re fresh. Just by moving your location, you’ve changed your perspective.

When I’m working on a long project like a book, I convert the file to a PDF every week (Scrivener makes this easy) so that I can read it as a reader would. Once it’s on my phone, I can read the PDF whenever I have a free moment: when I’m waiting for a meeting to start, or even if I’m stuck in a queue somewhere.

3. Draw something — or color something in — to spark your creativity

Doodling sparks creativity: it helps you to integrate your logical left-brain thinking, with your creative right brain. I often doodle during the day. It helps me to come up with fresh ideas, and clear my mind.

The current fashion for adult coloring-books may seem silly, but coloring-in works to enhance your productivity and creativity. Over the years, I’ve found coloring to be especially useful whenever I need to make a decision. Dover Books is my long-time favorite for coloring books.

4. Use your imagination: rehearse your writing before you sit down to write

Your imagination is powerful. Start mentally rehearsing your writing instead of worrying about it, and imagining that you can’t write a book, or whatever.

Rehearse the task in your mind. Imagine yourself sitting at your writing desk, and writing. You’re having fun, and your writing is going well — your fingers fly across the keyboard. You’re smiling, as solutions to writing challenges magically pop up for you. Imagine yourself creating the perfect solution to a writing challenge.

Do this throughout the day, and it will make all the difference to your writing.

5. Create a Happiness List, to keep your inner child happy

You really are as happy as you decide you’ll be. If you’re miserable, think about the things that make you happy, and create a Happiness List. My Happiness List includes books I want to read, movies I want to watch, and places to which I’d like to go.

At least once a day, choose something from your Happiness List, and indulge in it. Here’s why: your creativity depends on it. Your creative self is child-like. It’s your job to keep the kid happy. 🙂

In summary, write anyway…

I love this quote:

“The act of writing stimulates thought, so when you cannot think of anything to write, start writing anyway.”
Barbara Fine Clouse

And as I always say:

”Your writing challenges are solved by writing.”
Angela Booth

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Blogging To Sell In 3 Easy Steps

Blogging To Sell In 3 Easy Steps

We’re writers, so writing is what we do. This makes blogging easy of course, and all writers blog, because they know it’s the best thing they can for their writing career, and… (SLAP! Sorry, day-dreaming, had to give myself a quick slap to get back to reality.) OK. Let’s look at blogging to sell — you can do it. Just follow our simple steps.

Firstly, let’s look at why you should blog. Three quick reasons:

  1. It builds your writing career (people hire and buy from people they know, so blogging gets you known);
  2. It acts as your own Research and Development department (blogging will show you what sells);
  3. It helps you to build a writing habit, and get more and better ideas.

Of course, there are many more reasons to blog. So why do so many writers give up? One reason: they don’t see results. It’s hard to blog in a vacuum.

3 steps to blogging to sell

Blogging is challenging today. A decade or so ago, you could blog, and get readers, simply because you were there. It’s hard to believe how easy it was in those long-ago days. Today, writers struggle with blogging. When they don’t see results, they give up.

So, let’s build your confidence, and start you selling on your blog.

1. Create something to sell in eight hours or less

You want people to read your blog, and then…?

You’d be amazed at how many times I check out a writers’ blog, and there’s no call to action (CTA.) Nothing. Nada, zero, zilch. Zip…

I know that the writer whose blog I’m checking wants to get hired to write, or sell his ebooks, or get coaching clients, or get the writing job of his dreams. Sadly, he expects readers to work it out for themselves. They never do — no reader is psychic.

You have to ASK your readers to do what you want them to do. You may want your readers to:

  • Hire you to write for them;
  • Buy your ebooks;
  • Subscribe to your mailing list (so that you can sell them something or other down the track);
  • Or…?

Please choose something that you want your readers to do, and once you’ve chosen… ASK them to do it.

The first thing you’ll ask them to do, if you have nothing that you’re selling, is to buy your FAST product, something which you’ve created in under than eight hours.

What could you create in 8 hours or less?

Creating something to sell quickly is a useful skill for any writer. (Download my ebook here.)

What you choose to sell is up to you. It could be anything. An ebook, of course, or a report, or a printable of some kind. All that matters is that the product is easy to create, so that you get it done over a weekend, or in your spare time.

2. Research what sells, and create another product

Your first product needs to be something that you can sell with minimal research.

As soon as you’ve finished that product, create another 8 hour product. This time, if you wish, you can do a little more research into what’s selling.

Research things that interest you, so that you enjoy your research. Avoid creating anything which bores you — you won’t complete the product, and even more to the point, you won’t do a convincing job of selling it on your blog.

3. Use one of your products as a freebie, to build your mailing list

Now you’ve got two products, turn one into a freebie. You’ll use this freebie to encourage subscribers to your mailing list. (No list? Create one.)

How to price your fast products: charge more than you think you should

Invariably, when I coach someone who wants to make an income from creating info products, he’s tried, and failed. Then I check his website, and wince. The student is selling his info products at $5, or $7…

One student was selling a complete multi-week coaching program for $27. My eyes bugged out of my head. Needless to say, he hadn’t sold any. His website’s visitors couldn’t believe his price, any more than I could.

I encouraged him to raise the price of the program to $497, which I thought was value for money. He baulked at that. I forbore grumbling, you’re not selling anyway, so what does it matter? I relented, and suggested $297.

Now please mark this. Without any marketing at all, the student sold two programs within five days. At $297.

TIP: when you’re creating fast products, price according to the value of the information to your customer.

Action step: check the CTAs on your blog

Please do this before you do anything else. Click on your blog, and check your calls to action.

Happy with them? Excellent… now spend a little time (8 hours or less) creating a fast product, and SELL it.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.