10 Vital Tips To Help Scene Writing: (Conclusion of Nina Romano’s Special Blogpost on Scenes)

A summary “tie-up” for Scene

A scene is a consecutive and connected action combined with a character’s history or backstory. It utilizes description and involves some tension. Here are some of the nitty-gritties of scene-writing.

  1. PURPOSE-Scenes occur due to a necessity. A scene isn’t fluff, or wadding or an inert piece of pretty prose! It serves a purpose, and that is to come to a conclusion or solve a problem within the narrative.  The most important point in scene-writing is they are constructed on a controversy. A character, usually the protagonist, has a reason for acting a particular way in a scene and something is in her/his way: an impediment, a wrangle, or indecision. What it boils down to in a word is: conflict.
  2. DRAMA- A scene is a container for drama, and when you write scenes you should think of the techniques a playwright uses when staging your fiction—think: screenplay—you can’t get in a person’s head, you must show everything in action and dialogue.The strongest scenes give the sensation of stress and anxiety, and character’s behavior, and action. Oftentimes, they’re constructed around disagreements, or something or someone opposing the main character.
  3. INTRODUCING CONFLICT-The conflict must be well established and based on character motivation. The scene itself has to be fundamental to the overall plot and in fact often serves as a kind of small-scale version of the plot. While writing, consider these things: cause, effect, character motivation and variances or contradictions. If your main character has a goal, or want in every scene, this will enliven the fiction-writing and produce a sense of continuity.
  4. NUMBERING SCENES-A practice that functions well in pre-writing is to identify the scenes. Put the scenes on index cards and number them. On the card write the name the action, the characters involved and their drives or motivating factors, the time of day or season of the year, and the location.
  5. VISUALIZATION-When drafting a novel, it’s advantageous to be able to visualize what you’re doing and trying to accomplish. Assigning a number or name to the scenes will enable the writer the opportunity of an evaluation process to ensure their necessity. Sometimes the writer is dealing with a plot or story that is convoluted and intricate and it’s most convenient to have a separate record of events.
  6. CHARACTER REVERSAL-Writing a scene is the recipe, with all the aforementioned ingredients, to writing a plot—a plot is a connection of scenes that dramatize the main controversy, push the characters around to show their struggles. Fiction is about character reversal and character change. Make your character transform, reverse from beginning to end. Reversal is the changing perspective that makes reading novels interesting. That’s part of the pleasure of reading fiction. Basically, it’s the bargain you strike with the reader from the first sentence of your novel.
  7. MAKE THE ENDING ROCK-Scenes are where the excitement, struggle, opposition occurs and then there’s an outcome: the sequel, where the characters react. Like in real life. Again, scenes have a struggle at the center of them, they are staged. They have to end, usually by the addition of a catastrophe, or by putting in a shocker or spine-chiller, especially if it’s mystery or thriller, or fantasy. Then they become momentous, which means new problems, questions, clashes arise.
  8. WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?-Not all scenes deal with reference to solving the problems of the scene before. Every scene does not have to have a sequential one that concerns itself with a previous conflict—although some do. There should be a result of some sort from each scene. You can interweave and intertwine actions and reactions, introduce new characters with their own problems, showing discord. In the new novel I’m writing, I use time shifts and a great deal of backstory in flashback.
  9. CHECKING THE ACTION IN THE ACTION SCENE-How do you know the scene is working? One way to know if the action scenes are doing their job is to read them aloud. The ear will catch anything that slows down the pace, which instead, should increase, just as the mystery to be solved, or the argument building should gradually escalate.
  10. URGENCY-The action scenes should appear immediate and seem urgent—it’s taking place in the now. The ploys to writing drama in scenes are to use shorter sentences and crisp words. Cut description and responses. Action reveals the character with all his flaws. Paragraphs should be brief. I like to use one or two-word sentences. For dialogue, I employ fragmented speech or thought. I tend to use elevated language—here’s a place where it needs to be eradicated or simplified.

My historical, romantic novels are all very scenic because I believe that scenes are the heart of novels. Take a peek at my Wayfarer Trilogy, and if you do, please know that I appreciate it greatly and hope you will leave a customer review on Amazon.


Read Award winning Nina Romano for gripping tales of passion and romance.