Tag Archives: scenes

Write Hot Scenes For Bestselling Fiction: 5 Magical Tips

Hot Scenes Deliver Bestselling Fiction: 5 Magical Tips

New authors struggle with their scenes. They know that when you write powerful scenes, readers respond, and the result is bestselling fiction.

Bestselling authors are masters of their scenes. Their prose may be less than elegant, but it delivers an emotional punch. It’s always amusing when unsuccessful writers sneer at bestselling authors, whining that a certain bestselling author “can’t write” and doesn’t “deserve” success. This is nonsense.

As I’ve said many times: let go of the words in your fiction. Focus on FEELING.

If you focus on emotions, literary snobs may sneer, but you can laugh all the way to the proverbial bank. Emotion is delivered in scenes: the action’s happening now, and readers are engaged.

One of the biggest challenges for new authors is getting a handle on scenes. So, let’s do that today.

Scenes are the building blocks of your fiction

In the 21st century, every reader understands drama.

TV and movie stories are delivered in scenes. If you want lots of readers, you need to learn to deliver your stories in scenes too.

Readers are impatient. They just want the story. Deliver. Show, rather than tell. “Showing” means writing in scenes.

Here’s a graphic to help you to write hot scenes.

How to Write Scenes in Novels and Short Stories

Now let’s look at the elements which make up a scene.

Scene elements: how to set a scene

Here are the five elements of a hot scene.

1. Where and when, time and place: a scene plays out, NOW

Scenes are set somewhere. On a beach. In a warehouse. In a penthouse apartment. On a train… a plane… in a car.

Think of each of your scenes as a scene in a movie. Your point of view (POV) character in your scene is your camera. Orient your readers, so that they know where they are, and with whom they’re there.

Please don’t stop the action to do this. Use sensory elements (see below) to establish your scenes.

2. Characters have goals

Every character in your scene has a goal. And a secret. We all want things, all the time. Your fictional characters ACT on their goals. Their actions lead to conflict with other characters.

3. Character goals lead to: action, conflict, suspense… DRAMA

It’s often easier to study scenes while watching a movie. There’s less chance you’ll get lost in the words. So watch a movie, with a pen and paper. Pause the action when a scene ends, and replay the scene. Analyze it.

Work out what the characters’ goals are in the scene.

4. Sensory elements: sight, sound, hearing, touch: your readers LIVE your scenes

Ground your scenes in reality. What does your POV character hear? What’s he touching? Provide sensory details, so that readers can live the scenes with your characters.

5. Emotion, via characters’ thoughts, to help readers to FEEL

Consider this sentence.

He told her: “You deserve to die.”

Dramatic? Not unless your POV character thinks, and reacts. Reveal your POV character’s thoughts when he hears the statement. If you can do that, your readers will live the scene with the character. They’ll  be there with him.

Fence in your scenes…

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to dilute the effect of a scene, and wander off the point. Write down one, and at the most three, things you want a reader to experience in a scene.

This means:

  • NO flashbacks during a scene;
  • No extraneous characters (limit the characters in most scenes. Battle and crowd scenes are the exception. Maintain the POV’s character’s focus. What’s he seeing and doing? Feeling? Thinking?)
  • NO tangents. Maintain your POV character’s focus. Let’s say that your POV character has been kidnapped. He’s unlikely to think about a dinner party that’s coming up in three days. New authors go off on strange tangents in scenes all the time. DON’T. Be there with your character, thinking what he’s thinking, and feeling it.
  • NO head-hopping: one POV per scene. Many bestselling authors head-hop. (That is, they change their POV character in the course of a scene.) You can do it too, once you’re a bestseller. It’s all too easy to confuse readers, so don’t do it until you’re selling thousands of copies of your fiction every day.

Writing hot scenes will become second nature to you

Initially, you’ll feel as if there’s a lot to remember in scenes. Over time, you won’t need to think about the elements. Adding them becomes natural, and automatic.

Enjoy writing scenes. Hot scenes are the building blocks of bestselling fiction — they’re entertaining to write, as well as to read. Have fun. 🙂

Want to write a bestseller? Check out: How To Write In Scenes… The Magical Secret To Writing Well And Selling More

Fiction: How To Write In Scenes
Fiction: How To Write In Scenes

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Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
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Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →

Fiction Writing Basics: Scenes, Narrative and Chapters

Fiction Writing Basics: Scenes, Narrative and Chapters

Let’s take a look at fiction writing basics: scenes, narrative, and chapters. Several readers asked “What’s a chapter?” My response, “Whatever it needs to be,” isn’t all that helpful, so let’s clarify.

Your fiction is constructed in scenes and narrative

I rarely use chapters in short stories and novellas. When I write a novel, I write it in scenes, and set up chapters in the second or third draft. You need to be wary of chapters (see below.)

Let’s get some definitions out of the way.

What’s a scene?

In “Writing Short Stories: How Many Scenes Do You Need?”, we said:

“A scene is defined as a unit of action; the operative word being ACTION. Something happens in a scene. If nothing much happens, it’s not a scene.”

A scene can be 40 pages, or two paragraphs in length. I know “pages” have zero meaning in ebooks, so let’s assume that a page is 250 words, and 40 pages are 10,000 words.

Most of my scenes in short stories and novels are around 1,500 words. Some may be just 400 words. Others — the “big” scenes — will be longer.

When I’m planning a novel, for example, I know I need to establish the set up of the story in four scenes. If I get to my seventh scene, and still haven’t finished setting things up, I need to rethink.

Big scenes, those scenes which are essential, and are major turning points, need more words. I allocate those words in planning. That said, be loose in your planning. A scene which you thought would be major, may not be needed, if you’ve changed the plot.

What’s narrative?

You’ve heard of “show, don’t tell”. Your scenes are showing. Narrative is telling. Narrative is a report of what happened. You need some narrative. You can’t show everything that happens in your fiction in a scene. Minor events and pieces of action don’t need to be shown.

For example, let’s say that your main character moves across the country to take a new job. You could say “Fred moved to New York”, and leave it at that. That’s narration.

However, perhaps something important happens during the trip, but you don’t want to show it in a scene. You’d just narrate (tell) what happens.

Or perhaps you need to include a little information about something that happened before your story starts. You could add a little narration to cover that. (Don’t overdo backstory. Too much backstory stops your story dead; you’ll lose readers, who just want to get on with the story.)

What’s a chapter?

A chapter’s an arbitrary division of your story.

The big question: how many scenes in a chapter? is very hard to answer. You might have three scenes and some narrative in a chapter. You might have just one scene in a chapter if something big happens.

Use reader-curiosity to keep readers reading at the end of a chapter

We’ve said that you need to be wary of chapters. Here’s why. A reader might get to the end of the chapter, and stop reading. The end of a chapter is a natural stopping point to readers — don’t allow that. A reader may vanish for good.

If you’ve enrolled your ebook in KDP Select, and it’s available in Kindle Unlimited, the more pages your readers read, the more you get paid. 😉 Levity aside, you’re writing to be read, so it’s your job to keep readers reading.

Either end your chapter with suspense: “Eve turned around. The man was holding a gun.” Alternatively, foreshadow something in the final scene of the chapter which intrigues the reader so much that he must keep reading to see what happens next.

Chapters can be very useful: they encourage you to remember readers. Big tip: always know WHY you’ve set up a chapter — don’t just create a chapter because you’ve written four scenes and think you need to create a chapter.

In your first draft, focus on scenes and narration

You can do as I do, and ignore chapter divisions in your first draft. The only time it makes sense to divide your fiction into chapters in your first draft is if you have clear divisions.

If…

  • You’re writing from more than one point of view;
  • Your fiction takes place in multiple eras (as when you’re writing a time travel novel, for example);
  • Some other reason — if you’ve got reasons to set up chapters, do it.

First chapters, last chapters: focus on SCENES

Authors tend to worry about their first and last chapters. After all, it’s true that the first chapter sells your book. The final chapter sells the next.

I tend to concern myself with the first 10% of the book (Amazon shows the first 10% in Look Inside), and the final two scenes. Make your initial two scenes, and your final scenes satisfying to readers, and you’ve done well.

Hot Plots: Craft Hot-Selling Fiction in 5 Minutes (or less)

How To Write Commercial Fiction With Hot Plots

The big secret of making money from your fiction is writing a lot. And publishing strategically and consistently. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program ensures that authors can make money from short stories, and all kinds of fiction. Moreover, whatever you’re publishing, you have a global audience.

You’re about to discover the easiest, fastest, and most fun plotting method ever. You can use it for all your fiction, whether you’re writing short stories, novellas or novels. Take control of your fiction now, and publish more, more easily. Discover Hot Plots.

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

How to profit from your writing: online store.

5 Super-Easy Fiction Writing Tips You Can Use Today

5 Super-Easy Fiction Writing Tips You Can Use Today

Want to write more fiction? You can. Let’s look at some easy fiction writing tips which will help… some of the tips may feel counter-intuitive, but they work.

Write More: 5 Easy Fiction-Writing Tips

To speed through a novel, or short story, you need to have a process.

Here’s a simple process:

  • Create a concept/ basic idea: I use the fast-start process. Try it, it works;
  • Create two characters and their goals. One’s the protagonist; the other’s the antagonist — I think of them as the goodie and the baddie;
  • Plot the major scenes which are the turning points of the story;
  • Write a fast draft;
  • 2nd draft — this is where the real writing happens;
  • Editing.

Plotting happens while you’re writing — we talked about layers. Never miss an opportunity to make your story more exciting.

1. Stop writing when there’s nothing there

You’ve been writing your story, and it’s magic. You wake up excited and eager to get that day’s writing done.

One morning (or whatever time of day you write fiction)… nothing. You’re uninspired, or just tired. You don’t want to write.

When your book’s been going well, this is resistance. It’s your subconscious mind waving its hands and yelling — “stop! You’re going the wrong way…”

Pay attention. Stop. Sleep on it.

Next day, you’ll either have the solution to the problem you didn’t know was there (but your subconscious mind did), or you’ll find the problem when you read through the draft.

Vital: to write more, pay attention to your intuition. Listen. The answer will come.

Your challenge here is to identify those times you’re being lazy. If you suspect you’re just goofing off, push through it. Write anyway.

2. Write in scenes: diagram them first

One of the challenges with fiction is logistics; moving people around in your scenes. Two people in a scene are manageable; more than two are a challenge.

Before I start a scene, I like to draw little diagrams on index cards. I identify each person in the scene, what his or her goal is, what secret they’re keeping from the other characters, and anything else that’s important.

When you think through a scene before you start writing, your writing will flow, and you’ll write more.

3. Write in scenes: goal, first line, last line

I also write the first and last sentences of a scene before I start, as I explained in this article.

When you know where you’re going, you’ll get there faster. 🙂

4. Stop writing when you’ve answered the “story question”

The story question is the point of your novel or short story. It’s when your main character has achieved his goal. In a mystery, it’s when the sleuth confronts the killer; in a romance, it’s when the guy gets the girl.

Your characters may or may not live happily ever after — end the story when it’s done. We talked about outlining and big scenes here. Your biggest scene is the story’s climax. Once it’s over, so is your story.

5. Don’t “write”: see it, feel it, and then write it

If you’re a new fiction writer, that is, you’ve been writing fiction for fewer than five years, your focus tends to be on the words. When readers read however, they don’t care about the words — you don’t stare at the painter’s brush strokes when you’re looking at a painting, do you?

Just as you experience a painting, your readers experience your fiction. That means that YOU need to EXPERIENCE it.

See your scenes in your imagination. Experience what your characters experience. For your readers to feel it, you need to feel it first.

Robert Frost said:

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

See it and feel it first. Then write it. You’ll write more, and your readers will get their money’s worth.

Hot Plots: Craft Hot-Selling Fiction in 5 Minutes (or less)

How To Write Commercial Fiction With Hot Plots

The big secret of making money from your fiction is writing a lot. And publishing strategically and consistently. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program ensures that authors can make money from short stories, and all kinds of fiction. Moreover, whatever you’re publishing, you have a global audience.

You’re about to discover the easiest, fastest, and most fun plotting method ever. You can use it for all your fiction, whether you’re writing short stories, novellas or novels. Take control of your fiction now, and publish more, more easily. Discover Hot Plots.

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

How to profit from your writing: online store.