If you’re writing fiction, you’re writing to entertain. This means that your readers want to be right there with your characters, so you write in scenes.
I posted Writing Short Stories: How Many Scenes Do You Need? on the Just Write a Book Blog, and thought it might be useful to you as well — particularly the graphic. When you think about how many scenes you need before you start writing, it makes plotting, and later, revision, much easier.
Writing fiction: focus on the EMOTIONS
Fiction is emotions, just like life. Can you imagine not feeling anything at all? (I should mention however, that while fiction is emotions, fiction is NOT real life…)
A person who’s without feelings isn’t human, as we understand the term “human”.
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.
How familiar are you with your emotions?
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.
Sadly, we’re taught at school, and in western culture in general, to be “logical” and to distrust our emotions.
Ignoring your emotions is stupid; it can kill you.
From the blurb of Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear:
“A stranger in a deserted parking lot offers to help carry a woman’s groceries. Is he a good Samaritan or is he after something else? A fired employee says “You’ll be sorry.” Will he return with a gun? After their first date, a man tells a woman it is their “destiny” to be married. What will he do when she won’t see him again? A mother has an uneasy feeling about the nice babysitter she’s just hired. Should she not go to work today?”
Fear is a powerful emotion. (Read de Becker’s book — it will give you lots of ideas you can use in your fiction.)
How to write about emotions? SHOW, in scenes
Why am I waffling on about emotions…? One simple reason, if you want to make fiction a great experience for readers, you need to SHOW. You show (rather than tell) in scenes.
I’m sure you’ve heard the fiction writing advice “show, don’t tell”?
When you show, you write in scenes. Write a few good scenes, and your fiction will sell.
Writing in scenes makes writing fiction much simpler. It’s easier to plan, and easier to write. It’s also much, much easier to revise.
Write scenes, and their sequels, and connect these pearls with a few “telling” transitions, and you’re done.
Enjoy writing in scenes — try it if you’re struggling with fiction. It will make all the difference.
How to write “real” characters: emotions (and scenes)
You’re writing a novel about aliens who live on a planet far, far away. Or you’re writing a novel about a neurosurgeon, who has a gambling problem. Or you’re writing a novel about eagles, from the point of view of a young eagle who’s been raised in captivity, and is now in the wild.
All those characters are you. No matter who your characters are in your fiction, and no matter how different they are, they’re you. Their emotional reactions are yours. No matter how old or young you are, you’ve experienced human emotions. Your emotions connect you to your characters. And then they connect your readers to your characters.
I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.More info →
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