This blog is mostly written for readers, but occasionally i like to slip in some writing craft which i hope gives readers a better insight into the books they read and shares some ideas with fellow writers. This post
is one of those.
This past Saturday, novelist James Scott Bell spoke at my RWA chapter meeting (we have a great chapter). He gave us so much useful stuff, i can’t begin to share it all, but i will pass on a wonderful tidbit of inspiration that helped me a lot. Then maybe in another blog, i’ll share some more.
James taught us that every scene must have an objective, obstacles, and an outcome. This is something a writer feels instinctively but actually hearing it from a teacher helps us bring it into practice. And readers also sense that this is what makes a scene great. The outcome of a scene can be success or setbacks or it can be a success that leads to a setback. In fact, until you get close to the end of the book, a lot of scenes will lead to setbacks.
Then he shared the principle of SUES. No, not lawyerese! It stands for Something Unexpected in Every Scene. This keeps the readers on their toes and looking forward to the next scene. And to help us do that, he gave us the best tip! He said after you’ve written a scene, go back in and look around through the character’s eyes. What could the character see or notice that wasn’t there before? He told us we didn’t have to explain the item then. It could become significant later.
I love this tip and it helped me with a scene i’d written a few days ago and knew was kind of boring. It had some interesting details in it that would be important later, but the scene didn’t quite have a clear objective. When i came home yesterday, i immediately went back to the scene and inserted a discovery. An object my hero finds that he doesn’t recognize. He wonders what it is, but that’s all. I’m hoping the readers will also wonder what it is. When Cataclysmic Shift comes out later this year, maybe you’ll guess the scene.
This is a simple tip, but a great one for spicing up a scene. For those of you anxious to have more of this valuable information, let me share the link to James’ plotting tool that is available online. I can’t endorse it because i haven’t used it yet, but if yesterday’s talk was any indication, it should be great.
Thank you all for coming by! : )