creative writing

Writing Scenes in a Novel

Most novels are written scene by scene.

I define a scene as a period of dialogue, a movement of characters from one place or time to another, or the start and end of some action. A scene is anything that enters through a door, experiences what is beyond the door, and exits through the same door or another door.

A scene can last a few paragraphs or several pages. I think scenes work best when they are kept to around two thousand words. They can include dialogue and action with movement from place or time, yet only one of these items should be the focus over a few pages.

As an example, this blog is a scene focused on the topic of writing scenes. There’s one character (me), the blog is 300 words, and the dialogue is with the reader concerning this one topic.

While writing this blog post, I became distracted onto other topics that I moved to another blog post for another time. This is what a writer needs to do when writing a scene. Keep focused on a single topic and discard everything else. It could be used for the next scene.

Scenes need to be linked together. The links are breaks for the reader to rest from the scene’s intense moments. They are non-scenes and can include reflections from the characters or a description of the environment or both. They act like bridges so the reader can take a breath before continuing to the next scene. They are critical and carry, like a bridge, the reader to the next scene.

Our society of readers takes things in short bursts of information. There was a time when scenes were fewer and longer. Nowadays, scenes work better for the reader when they are short and to the point.

From Fear to Publication

This blog entry is not a motivational speech. It is a layer of my opinions and wanderings of random thoughts about one aspect of publishing a book — the ego and the fear.

I believe there are many well written books that could be classics and loved by many. However, the writer’s only copy is sitting on some electronic device or printed and gathering dust somewhere. It is almost like the best writers do not want to be published. It is almost like the best writers are the ones who fear publication the most.

Of course, there are many books that should remain unpublished. I wrote two of them. There are also a lot of books that should not have been published. I have read some of them. In the end, I think the difference between publishing and not seems to be the ego.

Those with the biggest ego appear to find it easy to publish. I don’t mean “ego” in the negative sense. These authors want the world to know they wrote something and have no fear of the public reading what they wrote. Is there a link between ego and fear?

Over the years, I have met some very good writers who never published. They saw publishing as a barrier they could not overcome. Also, almost none of them had strong egos. Some even told me they feared where the publication route would take them.

I have no answer for how people without strong egos can overcome their fear and get published. (Except overcome their fear and publish, but that’s a motivational speech.) I have three books sitting alone on my computer and printed out that are ready to be self-published. They’ve been sitting there for too long.

Join a Writers’ Group

Writers’ groups are opportunities to encourage and inspire writers along with providing a means to network. As president of a writers’ group, we provide benefits to motivate people to join. We have luncheons with guest speakers, on occasion writing events, and a discount on our writing contest. Member dues help pay for these things.

Our group, like many others, offer author representation on the website, a monthly newsletter, and we support several critique groups. More things member dues support. Yet, even with being in a large population area with a vibrant writing community we struggle with membership.

Writer groups are needed so a writer has a place to go to for support. Yet, I know many writers who do not belong to a writers’ group.

I think it is important for writers to join one. Most membership fees are reasonable and the opportunities to join can mean more than the money. There are opportunities to make writing friends and learn from other writers.

I belong to several groups, some too far away for me to attend the meetings. Yet, they still provide a way to network and learn. They are an outreach asset with diverse benefits.

I would encourage all writers to support at least one writers’ group in some way. However, I won’t suggest starting one unless you are so motivated. As a president of a writers’ group, it can be rewarding, but also challenging.

Writing in a Diary

For me, writing in a diary is a stress relief. My diary takes less work to express myself to me than writing something for other people to understand.

And, I listen to myself when I write to me. If I tell something to someone, they may not be listening or understanding. Writing in a diary could also be called free writing. It encourages creativity.

I think people should keep a diary. It is like having a conversation without talking to anyone. For me, the process and act of writing in a diary creates a sense of order in my thoughts, like it could for other people. It can certainly help anyone who needs to be a friend to themselves.

What I write in my diary is not what I would write in a journal.

A diary exposes deeper thoughts and it is easier to write out my thoughts. I think many writers create a journal instead of a diary. They are careful with what they write, believing that people would want to read their words one day or fearful that someone would read their words one day.

There are options. A writer can keep a journal and a diary. Let people read the journal and they will not look for a diary. Whichever way you go, the purpose of a diary and a journal is to communicate with yourself honestly.

If you are not writing a diary or journal, try it out. You certainly do not have to do it every day or even on a schedule (I don’t). You can write in a notebook or pieces of paper when you have the need and/or desire to talk to yourself.

If you are keeping a diary, that’s pretty good.