Monday, July 5, 2010

Set the Scene

Today's post is about writing your scenes, what you need to ask yourself before you get into it. You need to set the scene.

You need to know who is your POV character--who will tell the scene the best.(unless you write in first person).

Who is there in this scene? If the POV character is alone, something has to happen to carry the character, and the story, and the plot along.

How much time has passed since the last scene? Two minutes or two hours? This has to be addressed as you open the scene. Some writers who don't want to make that one line skip, and keep things flowing will start out with a sentence: Two hours later . . . so as to not loose the reader, who has found an excuse to pause. This is a good idea if you're in the middle of a chapter, but more things are happening, and you don't want to loose a reader.

Props. Props are great, especially if the character might use them somehow. Anything from weapons to chairs. I invent some of my weapons in my stories. One young man's father happened to have invented a laser at the end of a long device that cuts through just about anything, and it was handy for cutting off the heads of demons whose blood just happens to burn. So, my main character is given this for added security, and I wasn't going to have her carry it around without her putting it to good use.

Conflict. Conflict is great between characters. You get to know them a little better, what makes them tick, ring and go off like a rocket. Even a little tension between two people who like one another is a good ploy to keep things a little uneven, so that readers don't fall asleep. They can argue about something they don't quite agree on. Or, one wants to do something the other doesn't want to do. Or, you can have the full-blown they-hate-each-other type of tension, yet are thrown together. I love the way Michele Hauf put the tension between her two characters Blu and Creed in Her Vampire Husband going with the tense, and sometimes funny dialogue between the werewolf princess and vampire king.

The next thing you need to ask yourself is Does this scene advance the action? How?

I hope this helps you. Have fun writing those scenes!


  1. This is great advice! I especially love the reminder about props. Props can bring a sense of realism to an unrealistic situation. I've recently started thinking about things my MC would carry, wear, or hold dear. It adds something to the book and could help with marketing later!

  2. Oh, yeah. The marketing ploy. Good point, Heather!


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