Saturday, January 29, 2011

Writing Scenes

My WIP #1 began as a dream that is now the middle of the story, and I had to work backwards to figure out how the MCs ended up there in the tale. But I also just winged it when I began writing it. What started as an exercise to see if I could write anything that was novel length led to me cranking out 80,000 words in a month, so I guess the exercise worked.

I'm normally very organized, and as I look back at that experience I'm still a little surprised that I just jumped right into it with no plans at all. Not that there's anything wrong with winging it; there's a wonderful kind of energy that comes from just jumping right in. But I'm finding that there are a lot of things I might (all right, should) have considered, when I was doing all that leaping.

I've picked up a few books on writing recently, and now that I'm on vacation I actually had time to start reading one of them. It's called Make a Scene - Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time by Jordan E. Rosenfeld.

The information has been very informative for this new writer, and I've had a several epiphanies as I study it and stew upon the information--especially in conjunction with input from my critique group. One thing that I've been really interested in relates to my work on description and the Show/Don't Tell issue.

Rosenfeld talks about how important it is to set the scene to ground your characters and keep them from becoming talking heads, that it may seem like mere background but is more like rich soil from which your story can grow.

The scene we set can be initally like stage directions for a play. It doesn't have to be perfectly established at first, and you can make notes to yourself--something like your characters being in a specific location like a restaurant with a reminder to yourself to research foods and smells unique to it. Your setting may not come to you all at once because some settings can and should have depth.

**light bulb goes off**

I realized something that could help me with my descriptions--using the five senses. Another 'duh' moment for me, but it was one that really excited me because it seems doable.

How do you set your stage? Are you able to juggle it all in your mind and don't have to take notes? Are you one of those writers who has maps drawn of your fantasy world? How much prep work do you do before you plow into the actual writing?

On a side note, since I mentioned being on vacation, this is my hubby and I at Lydgate Beach on Kaua'i.


  1. Senses are really important details you can't miss! Using a few now and again will really make a big difference!

  2. Great post! I was definitely a pantser on the first book I wrote. I wrote with just the initial idea that came into my head. Every book since has had some type of notes or at least a partial outline. And I definitley make maps. For me, I can't even navigate my own sci/fi or fantasy world unless I have something like that. I do sometimes forget about the senses during the initial draft but try to weave those in later.

    That's a beautiful picture. Enjoy your vacation!


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