Toolbox 19: Building Scenes

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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When I started writing, it was about escape. I’d leave my daily troubles behind me and visit a far off land with some far out characters. I never considered conflict or tension or any other writing convention.

I felt it was time for me to review building a basic scene. Many of you won’t need a refresher, but I did find some golden nuggets that might help any one of us.

…scenes strung together like beads on a wire, with narrative summary adding texture and color between.”

quote from Writer’s Digest.

A function of a Scene is to:

  • move the story forward
  • show cause and effect
  • reveal dilemmas and consequences
  • ensure the story is easy to follow

its Building material:

Paragraphs must not be ignored. Each starts with a topic sentence and is followed with sentences that add details, imagery, impact and emotion.

Each paragraph builds a scene block by block to its crescendo.

One Method of Writing a Scene:

1. Imagine the scene and let it play out. Do this several times increasing the tension between the players. Do not write a word until satisfied with the outcome. Make quick notes to capture the important points.

Look for the emotion driving the scene.

2. Using your emotion: Even if you’ve never experienced what is happening in the scene you’re building, there must be something somewhere that prompted a similar emotional reaction. Use it. Fill the pages not with your personal experience, but with the equivalent emotion that filled to you to bursting. This is not a time to hold back.

An example: Everyone has lost someone in some way. In your scene there is a sense of loss. Pull from the moment you discovered your loved one rejected you/died/moved away. Imagine the moment building. Feel the feelings. Let those feelings drizzle out in the scene in front of you.

3. Beginnings: As we do with sentences, changing length and style changes the pacing’s rhythm, some start organically. Many start at medias res, however, it is recommended to occasionally change-up the starting point.

Late starting points create urgency. Early starting point can create a slow burn. And jumping to a beat before the end can shock, surprise or incorporate the rule of cool.

4. Balance of action, narrative and dialogue. The balance of these elements engages the reader. However, balance is used loosely here. It may not be an exact split.

For example: A shouting match between two characters will lose its sense of urgency if its broken up with equal parts of description and narration.

*Inner thoughts—my Achilles heel—falls under this section. A personal reminder to me that unlike many authors that naturally include this, I must pepper my scenes with inner dialogue.

5. Pacing: short sentences for faster pace and urgency; longer ones for a more relaxed and slow burn. Whichever you choose keep it tight—no confusion, meandering, or overdoing it.

There is a perfect pace for each scene.

6. Endings: They can include disaster, a terrible/astonishing discovery, an unexpected chain reaction, unanswered questions or a straightforward solution. However, one player’s logical solution can easily become another’s horrific problem. Often endings take one step forward and two steps back.

This may leave an obscure future–with or without clear repercussions. The anticipated fallout encourages the reader to predict what may happen next. To find out if they are right, they  must turn the page.

All Scenes Should Have:

  • A clear goal (for each player)
  • Obstacles
  • Threat of disaster
  • Outcome that urges the reader forward

Some scenes are weak. I suggest taking a hard look at whether any scene should be deleted, or chopped up and interspersed elsewhere.

It must be revised/removed if it doesn’t:

  • Have conflict
  • Built tension
  • Have direction
  • Move the story forward
  • Contain an emotional impact
  • Show believable motivations
  • Change the overall situation

how to strengthen a Weak scene

Answering these questions may help:

  • What is the overall purpose of the scene?
  • How can the scene impact the narrative (subtle or not)?
  • What players need to be included or excluded to create tension?
  • Can changing setting (for example: marriage proposal moved from restaurant to seaside cliff) increase tension?
  • What twists can the scene produce?

Anything you’d like to add? All comments are welcome.

Gleaned from:

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SPOTLIGHT: Grumpy Old Gods

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What happens when gods wane, retire, or just decide they need a change of employment? 

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13 writers took up the challenge and let their imaginations run wild in this anthology that is nearly-always amusing, somewhat insightful, and completely irreverent as we imagine the gods of yore in retirement.

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What’s inside:

Playing Hooky by Juneta Key: Death’s FA can’t catch a break; the head reaper himself has gone AWOL and someone placed an ad in the Paranormal Chronicles implying that the position was open! Now Alister has a waiting room full of deities who are demanding to interview for the position, a position he’s fairly certain can’t be filled by anyone except Death himself!

Pan by Vanessa Wells: Gwen Henson is a witch trainee with a nose for trouble; when she gets into something deeper than her mentor can help her with, they are forced to contact a cantankerous former god for help…help that he is willing to give, for a price.

A Low Key Game Night by Elizabeth Shaffer: Family Game night is always a risky situation when a former god of mischief is involved; add in a son bringing a new mortal girlfriend to meet the godly household and the stakes get a bit more interesting than anyone intended.

For Want of a Feather by Andrew Dunlop: When the God in charge of afterlife management goes AWOL, two intrepid (if somewhat dead) souls and a talking cat set off to find him. What they find isn’t exactly what they anticipated.

Out of Luck by Vanessa Finaighty: Loki, God of Mischief has a history of going too far: when one of his pranks goes wrong, he and the rest of Gods are out of luck…literally.

Rule 34 by Avery Vanderlyle: When the Primal Terror goes AWOL, Demeter is forced to chase him down in order to keep humanity from destroying themselves; unfortunately, he has a new hobby, and it’s for mature audiences only.

Immanent Domain by Wendy Smyer Yu: When Cara accidentally invokes Coyote after a terrible date, the young woman has to channel her inner trickster so that the bored deity doesn’t wreck her life.

God of Morning by Elizabeth McCleary: When Morrow, god of morning is informed he is in danger of losing his position to Chaos god of well…chaos, he has to pull himself out of his recent funk and find joy in the morning once more.

Zeus Really Needs To Go by Shawn Klimek: Lactose intolerance and a distinct lack of a statute of limitations combine to give the former King of Olympus one very bad day.

Breaking the Habit by Ronel Janse von Vuuren: Odin finds that escaping his throne to make mischief at a rest home might be exactly what the doctor ordered.

The New Chief Medical Officer by Tom Vetter: Controlled chaos reigns in the Elysian Fields Retirement facility. The new chief medical officer arrives to take charge; but when retired gods are involved, nothing is ever as easy as it seems at first glance.

Harbinger of Doom by Katharina Gerlach: A mortal with a distasteful job finds that he can be more than he ever dreamed, if he simply has the courage to reach out and take what he wants.

Whither Athena by Marshall J. Moore: In which Althea Stagg has a client she can’t refuse and a missing Goddess who has no intention of returning: caught between two primal beings, what’s a demi-goddess detective to do?

Grumpy Old Gods Vol. 1

Releasing March 30th

PRE-ORDER NOW

About Ronel Janse van Vuuren

Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free from selected online retailers. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 – and again in 2018! – for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

Sign up to be notified of new releases, giveaways and pre-release specials – plus get a free eBook – when you join my newsletter.

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Masquerade: Oddly Suited Book Spotlight

Masquerade: Oddly Suited Tour Banner

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Masquerade: Oddly Suited, a young-adult romance anthology from The Insecure Writer’s Support Group which is coming out on 30th April 2019!

About the Anthology

Find love at the ball…

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Title: Masquerade: Oddly Suited
Release date: April 30th, 2019
Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press
Genres: Young Adult Fiction: Romance – General / Paranormal / Contemporary
Print ISBN: 9781939844644
EBook ISBN: 9781939844651

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Can a fake dating game show lead to love? Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince? Can a softball pitcher and a baseball catcher work together? Is there a vampire living in Paradise, Newfoundland? What’s more important—a virtual Traveler or a virtual date to the ball?

Ten authors explore young love in all its facets, from heartbreak to budding passion. Featuring the talents of L.G. Keltner, Jennifer Lane, C.D. Gallant-King, Elizabeth Mueller, Angela Brown, Myles Christensen, Deborah Solice, Carrie-Anne Brownian, Anstice Brown, and Chelsea Marie Ballard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will mystify and surprise even as they touch your heart. Don your mask and join the party…

Purchase links

eBook / Paperback / Goodreads / Blog 

Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

 

About the Stories

Oddly Suited, LG Keltner
The silliest situations may be oddly suited for romance.

Behind the Catcher’s Mask, Jennifer Lane
Who can help her through a meltdown on the pitcher’s mound?

The Dark Charade, CD Gallant-King
The new girl in town falls in love for a mysterious boy who is maybe, probably, most definitely, a vampire.

The Cog Prince, Elizabeth Mueller
Falling in love, saving the day, and a masque—oh my! Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince?

A Diver’s Ball, Angela Brown
You can be anything you want in the online world of Cumulus. A human. An elf. A powerful beast mutation from your wildest imagination. But can you be in love?

Flower of Ronda, Myles Christensen
What if life’s price of servanthood could be changed?

Fearless Heart, Deborah Solice
Is he a figment of her imagination conjured to keep her sane, or is he something else…something more?

Charleston Masquerade, Carrie-Anne Brownian
Can two worlds come together and find love?

Sea of Sorrows, Anstice Brown
What could a shapeshifting siren know about love?

Remedy, Chelsea Marie Ballard
Everything is against Remy and Rudy, but on the night of the Masquerade Ball, they must choose: each other or their lives?

You can find out more about the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited here.

About the Giveaway

RAFFLECOPTER LINK TO GIVEAWAY 

The authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited are giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to one winner. To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open internationally from 12:00 am GMT 17th March to 12:00am GMT 6th May.

About the Tour

Visit the other blog tour hosts below to find out more about the stories and authors featured in Masquerade: Oddly Suited.

IWSG 59: Quotes To Keep Me Going


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This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.

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Co-Hosts: J.H. Moncrieff | Natalie Aguirre | Patsy Collins | Chemist Ken

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: If you could use a wish to help you write just one scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be?

If I could wish for anything it would be to trust myself enough to believe that anything I write is worth reading. The only solace I found is I’m not the only one who faced doubt in their career.

I don’t have your quotes, but I did find some others.

Quotes when searching for the right word:

“I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.”Gustave Flaubert

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”–Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”–Benjamin Franklin

Quotes driven by emotion:

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”–Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”–Anne Frank

about Imagination:

“You can make anything by writing.”–C.S. Lewis

Judgement vs understanding:

“As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”― Ernest Hemingway

To help find joy:

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

― William W. Purkey

I always add : “Write like no one will read it,”

Feel free to add your favorite quotes in the comments. I’d love to read them.  🙂

Toolbox 18: Third-Person Omniscient Point Of View

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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While I was soul-searching and reading about writing the mystery genre, I discovered several explanations of third-person omniscient pov.

The pros of third-person omniscient pov:

  • Narrator knows all: which is limited only by the pacing of shared information over time
  • The use of summaries, transitions and bits of telling are acceptable and encourage to maintain reasonable word count
  • Conflict shows each character’s deepest expressible traits during a scene or dramatic moment.
  • Small spurts of backstory—personal or worldwide—can introduce or quickly explain character behavior and social climate within scene.
  • The biggest advantage of the objective point of view is it allows the reader to make up their own mind about the unfolding events within the story.

Cons:

  • The lack of connection and sympathy for the characters because inner thoughts are used sparingly if at all.
  • Depends completely on descriptions of body language, dialogue, and reactions to concrete details to express each character’s emotional state.

Other Cons and their solutions:

  • Head hopping an be avoided by sticking to the narrator’s pov.
  • Info dumps can be avoided by using using restraint when including transitions, backstories, and summaries. Less is more.
  • Psychic characters. Writers must remember that the narrator knows all—not the players.

Objective vs Subjective

Objective (dramatic) third-person omniscient pov is more of a fly on the wall narration. Think of watching TV or a movie. The narrator’s voice is nonexistent. Character’s emotional state is shown through stage direction, body language, concrete details, foreshadowing, flashbacks, and dialogue. No internal thoughts are shared. Emotionally charged words like felt/assumed or angry/sad are avoided.

Therefore, the reader has to determine what each character is feeling and thinking through observation alone.

Subjective point of view has a strong narrative voice. It is intrusive and can be anyone: a child, pet, ghost, etc. The whole story is filtered through the narrator’s tone, attitude and the judgment of the players.

There is less distance, because it is possible for the reader get close to and/or sympathize with the narrator. Especially when done with a slice of comedy.

Omniscient vs Limited pov

Although both are similar enough to be used (almost) the same way during a dialogue heavy scene, they have quite different advantages.

Third Person Omniscient’s descriptors are slightly different in a tell-y kind of way. They can simply state what kind of person a character is: weak but honest, harsh and cruel. It allows for quick explanations. The showing is focused on body language, dialogue, and reactions to concrete details.

Third Person Limited has more show-y descriptors. They are the observations of the protagonist and reflect as much about the person sharing as it does about the character being described. Inner thoughts are deep and limited to the observer comments.

Why consider using omniscient pov at all?

Plot driven stories aren’t completely dependent on the reader-character connection. Depending on the scope of the story your trying to tell, it may help with an unacceptably large word count. Summaries and transitions allow the reader to traverse time and space quickly and easily. It also allows the reader to engage with the story without getting confused or lost in its enormity.

Is there anything I’ve missed? Please share, I’m glad to learn more.

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