Writing Scintillating Scenes––Part II

Last week, we learned that a scene is and has––action. Action is what happens. Every scene should have an impactful event that occurs during it. As the story progresses, each scene adds its contribution to the overall tale, to make an event. Scene events don’t always need to be spectacular, but must be meaningful and interesting, moving the story along. Click to Tweet #amwriting #scintillatingscenes

Each scene is part of the fabric of your story, they’re never meant to stand alone. Everything is connected and the sum total of your scenes become your story. When looking at scenes, here are four things each one should have:

  • Summary––you should be able to summarize in a sentence or two what that scene is about.
  • Actions––what actually occurs, whether it is something the POV character says, does, or other forces of what might happens to the character.
  • Event––usually one significant thing, an action by a character or that is noteworthy and memorable.
  • Emotion––a powerful way to convey the action and bring motivation to a character in a scene.

Dialogue is an excellent way to show character motivations, drive the action, and creating a pulse to the scene. It must add up to something, create action, stoke the fire to drive the characters to the next scene.

Scenes are what drives the story. They must have a beat of their own, which in conjunction with the pulse of the other scenes, along with a bit of reflection at the end of each scene, called a sequel, sets up the next scene.


  • Read for Event: Identify scenes and passages in books you’ve read. Read it over several times, then be able to state: 1) the occasion for the scene (why these characters are together), 2) the event of the scene, and 3) the emotion built in the scene
  • Compile Events: write down every idea of occasions that could lead to an event. Don’t even worry about the whole story. What you want is to think of emotions, actions, and narrative that could be put together in a scene.
  • Scene theme: This will help you recognize how a scene “adds up” within your plot structure.

Ask yourself:

  • What makes action meaningful? What does it mean to say that “something happens” in a scene?
  • How do actions “add up” in a scene?
  • What is the danger of too much dialogue without action, narrative, or internal thoughts or emotions? How can you find the balance?

Scenes can either be boring or sparkling and dynamic. They can drive the action or bog it down. Emotions can be over the top, or stone cold? Learning what threads to put together will help you weave a scintillating scene. Click to Tweet #amwriting #scintillatingscenes

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