Happy Wednesday, my writing friends!
When I first started writing, I added scenes just to enhance my story’s aura. If a character went to a party, for example, I’d describe the food and the people, show the character’s reactions. Then she’d leave the party.
But nothing really happened!
Having written and edited for a while now, I’ve learned how deadly this is. Each scene must brim with juicy meat or hungry readers will hunt elsewhere for something to gnaw on.
How do we beef up our scenes? Here are two do's that work for me. (Next week: one more do and a don't.)
Do Be Relevant
First and foremost, every single scene must exist for a reason. In a book I'm reading, the main character decides to take a stroll on the beach. Uh oh, I think. Here comes a long, irrelevant string of introspection. My thumb perches on my Kindle to skim past the boring part, but, to my delight, a weird dude accosts the character, and then, even better, the hero shows up. My thumb relaxes, and I stay focused on the story. Stuff's happening, and I want to go along for the ride.
I always ask myself, “What is this scene’s job?” If it doesn’t accomplish anything—bye bye!
Do Create Conflict (Internal and External)
If it were up to me, both internal and external would pulse through every scene. Why? Let’s say we have a ton of external conflict—a bus roars at our hero. That’s good conflict, right? How much better if the driver of the bus is our hero’s wife? Now, not only does he have a bus to contend with, but emotions associated with betrayal, loss, and love.
Also, if a scene consists of internal conflict only, we risk boring our audience. That’s a pretty big risk. If a story requires a scene with only internal angst (and sometimes it does), follow these rules of thumb: 1. Make sure the angst deeply affects the plot, 2. Keep it short—not many folks can handle long, drawn-out soul searching, 3. Use deep POV so readers can feel what the character’s feeling.
So this week as you're beefing up your manuscripts, keep these tips in mind. And tune in next week for more.
What do you do to add meat to your scenes? I'd love to hear!
And don't forget to leave your questions for Ask O Wednesdays here in the comments.
God bless and happy writing,