Tag Archives: postaday 2012

Writing in Scenes – A Lesson from the Adverts

You know what a scene is, you watch films, plays, even the adverts on the box are little scenes.

A scene has to have a beginning, a middle and an end, the last bit with an ad being where they tell you how much the product is and where you can go and buy it. If we stick with the advertisement idea, when it comes on, its first job is to grip you, to stop you whizzing out to the kitchen to boil the kettle for tea. That initial grip then attempts to tighten its hold on you so you hesitate in the doorway, waiting to see what is going to happen to the young couple – will they or won’t they kiss/eat pizza/fall under a bus. The ending is tied in with getting you to understand this is definitely something with which you cannot possibly do without. So he’ll have bad breath because he doesn’t use the right toothpaste, she bought the wrong pizza and they both forgot to buy insurance.

See: beginning, middle, end. A perfect scene.  Sound familiar? Of course it does, because that’s what your book has, right? A wonderful gripping beginning, a middle that holds the reader until the very end, that final denouement where it all comes right (or goes horribly wrong!). And if your book has a sequel, you might like to finish on a bit of a cliffhanger: closing down one book, but leaving the way open for the next little suspension of disbelief.

But your book is also full of scenes. The whole thing is made up of little scenarios which each should have a beginning, a middle and an end. Some of them, especially at the end of a chapter, may have that old cliffhanger too. They should certainly have something that leaves the reader wanting the next bit. You may postpone that for a while by giving a separate piece of the plot, but sooner or later you go back and give them the satisfaction they were after with another scene that satisfies your reader for a minute or two, before you heave him into the next ‘middle’ and set up the next ending.

Each little section of your book is really a set of scenes. You can’t just stick your protagonist at the bus stop having a conversation with the next guy in the queue. He has to have a reason to be there waiting for that bus and you’d better know exactly what it is and where he, the conversation and maybe the bus are going.

So if your Nan-No is flagging, if you’re not sure it’s working, take a look at one of your chapters. Is it a scene or a series of scenes? Does that chapter have a beginning a middle and an end, and are you leaving your reader with a reason to go on with book, or is he going to drop it on the chair and go and make a cuppa?