Greetings My Lovelies!
Scenes make up everything in writing….
If you didn’t know well now ya know (Hamilton).
Writing them can be excruciating. How do you create the right amount of emotion using only words? I mean it’s not like you can add lens flares, choir boys singing, or dramatic music to your scenes….or can you? Here are 5 tips to help you write better scenes.
1. Does this scene even need to be included?
This may seem like a simple and slightly ridiculous question to ask, but it’s important. Can you story carry on without this scene? If the answer is yes then cut the scene. Scenes need to convey something be it emotional development, action that moves the plot forward, or shows some form of character development or show something about the character(s). If the scene you’re planning on doesn’t meet any of that, then it might be best to cut it.
2. Use the five senses.
Now I know this is a common suggestion but just how in the world are you supposed to do that. Well here’s what I do using an action scene.
We heard them before we saw them. The ground thundered beneath our feet; the terrible drumming march of a thousand demons. My men shifted behind me, their chain mail and armor clinking softly. The wind shifted and with it came the fetid odor that assaulted the delicate skin of my nose and caused the bile to rise to the back of my throat. My stomach rolled in violation coating my tongue with the acrid taste of fear. A fear that I can’t show. Not if I don’t want my men to flee. So I swallow it down. It sticks in my throat and stays there. I lift my eyes to the heavens. Even the stars have fled from this ungodly army. Five seconds. I give myself over to the fear for five seconds. After that, I cannot have any other thoughts in my head, not if I want to survive the night.
I am ready.
From the tree line, gleaming eyes emerge. They have arrived. With a roar that turned my blood to ice and my limbs to quiver, the demon hoard descended. The smell of carrion crashed over the field. I grip my blade tighter; the sweat on my palms making the hilt slick. That could cost me my life but I don’t have time to wipe them. Summoning a roar of my own, I raise my sword to the sky.
My men roar in reply and we surge to meet the black army that we meet with the familiar song of clashing blades and screams of the dying. It is a good night to die.
Did you become the character? Did you feel what he felt? That’s what you need to do when you write. Don’t be the god that observes. Be the on in the moment. Think of how you would feel in that situation, let you body feel it then put that to paper.
3. Want a dramatic flare to your writing? Slow down the pacing. Or speed it up.
When the character in the above scene counted to five I made each count it’s own paragraph. That will naturally slow the pacing. Up until that moment the pacing was much faster. Play around with the pacing. The more action you put into a single paragraph the faster it will be. This can be applied to all types of scenes not just action ones. In a romantic scene maybe have your characters come together slowly making each paragraph only a few sentences as they notice more, feel more. It’s your story, have fun playing with it. The rules that we learned in school don’t necessarily apply.
4. Use music for emotions.
I’m a music lover. I work better with it than without. I listen to music when I write. I have several playlists that are just for writing. I have my general writing music playlist, but I also have ones that are for spooky themes, villains, fighting, romance. All the songs in those playlists play up to the emotions that I need. When I’m working on a scene and it starts to give me trouble I start the appropriate playlist. I listen to it for a bit and then get right back at it with the right mindset. So play around on wherever you get your music and create playlists for the emotions that you know you struggle with.
5. Act it out
I know this sounds a bit strange but trust me. When I get stuck, I step away from my computer and act the scene out as best I can. This also helps with dialogue. Acting it out will help you achieve some all too important realism in your writing. Pay attention to the facial expressions you make when you talk. What’s you body language like? Now you might get some weird looks from your significant other, but they’ll get use to it. My hubby just rolls his eyes and asks if I’ve finally lost my mind every time. If you choose to apply this method, do so at your own risk or comfort.
Well that’s it. My five tips to help you write scenes. Do you have different methods that you use? Let me know by commenting below. I’d love to hear them!
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