Writing Scintillating Scenes––Part IV

In every scene, there is a place where something happens, and the scene turns. That’s the focal point. It can be at the beginning, the middle, or at the end of a scene. But it’s in there somewhere. You just have to find it. Are your scenes circular? Meaning, do you feel you’re writing in circles? If they are, you need to find the focal point. The focal point in a scene is where something happens. Click to Tweet #amwriting #scintillatingscenes

Ask yourself these questions.

What came before the focal point? –– What character actions, outside occurrences, or character thoughts or responses lead to the focal point? Read any scene in your favorite book and pinpoint what came before. If the focal point is at the beginning of a scene, what happened just previous?

What comes after? –– What is the focal point leading up to? Find a scene in your favorite book and see what follows the focal point? If the focal point is at the end of a scene, what did it set up for the next scene? What if the focal point is in the middle?

What purpose does this beat of action, this moment, do in the scene? –– Every focal point exists to turn a scene. This is not necessarily a plot twist, although it’s possible that focal point could certainly help set one up, and be a plot twist. Scenes matter, and every scene needs a purpose. How does it move the story along?

What does it do for the pulse? The line of beats? –– Any given focal point in a scene should be part of the overall pulse or line of beats for your story. Focal points don’t have to be shocking or terribly forceful. They just make certain the scene moves along, giving purpose and is a part of the general plot line.

Does this focal point make the scene better? –– Is the scene livelier? Does it add suspense by a menacing occurrence? Does it add humor, or sadder? Is the more tender? Is the pace picked up?

Focal points are the pillars, the mainstays, the workhorses of a scene. They are not stopping points after which the characters do things. And, they don’t stand around at watch in wonderment.


Read through your scenes in your manuscript and find the focal point of each scene. Keep a record. If the scene doesn’t seem to have a focal point, revise it so that it does.

Focal points in scenes help build plot and move the action along. Click to Tweet #amwriting #scintillatingscenes

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