Friday, January 13, 2012

What Makes a Scene Magical?

For me, this usually involves a bit of suspense or romance. Gotta love a handsome hero, or a heroine being wooed by that handsome hero. But generally, a scene is made up of a few more basics. A list of elements you want to aim for to make your scene complete and useful to your story as a whole.

Just like your overall plot, scenes need to have a beginning, middle, and end. Here are some elements to incorporate into a scene.

Beginning Hook

Here's our chance to draw the reader into the story or scene with one simple line or paragraph.


This doesn't have to be extensive, but it's essential to each scene to develop a sense of time and place.

New Revelation, Character and Plot

This is done through revealing new aspects about a character or useful information that helps reveal the plot. As a rule, I try to include one of these (at least one revelation about a character or the plot) in each scene or chapter otherwise I have to evaluate whether or not the scene is necessary to the story as a whole.

Advance Plot

It's our goal as the writer to make our plots fluid and keep up a good sense of pace. Like above, we can do this by revealing information to the reader and make sure that each scene we use is to keep the plot moving for the reader.

Ending Hook

As with the beginning hook, the ending hook is our chance to make the reader want to turn the page and keep reading the next scene or chapter.

Sure, a magical scene has more depth than those basics above. There's dialogue and a good story and that something special that makes you fall in love with the character, but you can't create a full and useful scene without attending to the basic elements.

When you break your story down into scenes, are there specific elements you try to include to make sure that specific scene is useful to your story?


Anonymous said...

Cindy, you share some great tips here. :) One thing that helps me is something I learned at My Book Therapy. Making sure I know what is at stake for the character in the scene helps me to focus my scene. Also, letting some of the stakes be resolved, but not all, gives me a way to hook the reader into turning the page. :) Thanks for sharing these practical points today!

Blogger/Google is doing its thing again. :) This is Jeanne T.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Great tips in a nice, simple list! Thanks a lot!

Casey said...

Scenes are all about layers and I'm slowly learning how to add them. Thanks for the great reminders, Cindy. :)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Jeannie, hi! Yes, that's a great tip. Our job is to keep the reader turning the page and there are so many ways to do that but if we can get them to all work together, we're doing great!

Hi, Susan. Wouldn't that be nice if we could make a nice simple list for everything and we'd be set? :)

Casey, yes! Layers. That's exactly right. Writing can be a fine art, adding what's needed at just the right time. Good thing we can all learn from each other! Have a great weekend.

Julia M. Reffner said...

OK, Cindy this is embarassingly newbie-ish...but, uh, I still have to divide my story into scenes. Let's just say I spent too much time debating spots for chapter endings and decided to add them after my first draft. So I do appreciate these tips. I think this helps me move backward if that makes sense.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Julia, don't be embarrassed! It sounds to me like you've found a system that works for you, and while you may end up adjusting it in the future, it's what helps you finish your first draft and that's great!

Jeanne T said...

Julia, I guess we're both newbies--I still divide my story into scenes too. :)

Misha Gerrick said...

I actually try not to think of it, because it ruins the flow when I'm trying to put in everything. If I let it come out on it's own, it just works. :-)