Practical Prompt 7/20/26: Scene Structure Part 3

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

For our June “Learn to Write by Reading” challenge, we invited you to examine books that had well constructed scenes. Now, apply what you learned to your own manuscript.

For the past two weeks, you’ve revised a scene in your manuscript so that your characters face conflict that your readers will find fresh. This week, analyze how your character feels about the outcome. Were there unintended consequences? Let those emotions direct the way the character reacts. Does she regroup and come up with a new plan to reach the same goal? Does he set a new goal altogether? Whatever reaction you choose, use that to guide the goal your character sets in the next scene.

A Night Owl, but Maybe Not a WriteOwl

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones

In a previous post, I wrote about my search for more consistent writing time as my daytime schedule has changed. The two options I found were to write either early or late.

I am a confessed night owl (hence the pun with WriteOwls), so my money was on the night time. I have been surprised to discover, however, that evenings are not a great time for me to write. Instead, evenings work better for spending time with my family and catching up on things around the house. Because I have traditionally stayed up late, I’ve already scheduled things to do at night, and I had trouble fitting another thing (writing) into my nightly schedule. Continue reading

Practical Prompt 7/13/16: Scene Structure Part 2

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

For our June “Learn to Write by Reading” challenge, we invited you to examine books that had well constructed scenes. Now, apply what you learned to your own manuscript.

In last week’s practical prompt, you crafted a scene that set up your characters’ goals and created obstacles for them to overcome. Now, review the conflict in that scene. Is the outcome too predictable? Consider a different outcome that will surprise your readers, or have your character react in an unexpected way. Try a few options until you find the one that will keep the readers turning the pages to see what happens next.

Learning the Lingo

Laura Ayo

Laura Ayo

If you’re a swimmer, you know you swim fly, back, breast and free in that order in the IM. If you know nothing about swimming, you are likely feeling like a foreigner in a country where everyone but you speaks the same language. It’s an uncomfortable, frustrating position to be in. Yet, every hobby and sport has its own lingo, just as every profession, including writing, does. I was reminded of this fact last week while talking with some writer friends. I used the acronym WIP during our conversation and one of the women interrupted me to ask what it meant. “Work in progress,” another answered. Since then, I’ve been thinking about how much there is to learn when it comes to writing terminology. Continue reading

Practical Prompt 7/6/16: Scene Structure Part 1

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

For our June “Learn to Write by Reading” challenge, we invited you to examine books that had well constructed scenes. Now, apply what you learned to your own manuscript.

Look at a scene that you particularly enjoyed from the book you read for this month’s challenge. What elements made the scene work? Often, the underlying structure is well hidden, but a dynamic scene will open with a character who has a specific goal. Notice that the character’s goal in an individual scene is not generally the same as the character’s larger story goal; rather it is a small step in the story goal’s direction. Other characters, though, have different agendas which will put them in conflict with the scene’s main character. That conflict is one of the things that makes a scene interesting.

Take a scene you’re having problems with from your work in progress. If the scene is too ho-hum, there may not be enough conflict. Ask yourself if your scene’s main character has a specific goal at the beginning of the scene. If not, give her one. Then make sure other characters and/or circumstances work against the major character as she tries to achieve her goal.  That will help ratchet up the drama and interest level throughout the scene.