A famous writer once wrote about a “method to the madness” and, in many ways, all writers know this to be true: writing is maddening. When the words flow, writing feels effortless and magical; when the word-well runs dry, the true madness and labor of writing occurs. As much as we seek out advice from other writers, every writer has their own approach to writing. We come up with our own systems for writing, from the environment in which we write to the process we use to write. Regardless of genre, all writing is broken up into smaller segments, parts, chapters, scenes, paragraphs, and sentences. Here we will focus on how to write an individual scene in your story.
Each scene in a story is deliberately crafted by a writer in order to achieve meaning. These smaller parts are put into larger units that become a whole book. One segment of a story is a “scene” and each scene plays a role in developing plot, conflict, and character. Throughout the writing process, scenes will be edited, some removed, new ones added; each scene ultimately road-maps a way to the story’s end.
First things first: we must always keep in mind our story’s theme or message; this acts as a guiding force for every word we put on the page. Then we break down our theme into a series of scenes that will eventually become a full and complete story. If you’re looking for some tips or tricks on how to go about writing a scene, try the progression below.
10 Tips For Scene Writing
1. Establish what needs to happen in this scene.
2. Identify the characters that are involved.
3. Identify where the scene will take place.
4. Define the length of this scene.
5. Identify the main conflict.
6. Choose the tone: surprising, interesting, or troubling.
7. Choose how the scene will begin and end. Consider other ways the scene could begin or end.
8. Write out a draft of the scene.
9. Consider what would happen if the scene were omitted.
10. Evaluate how well the scene meets with your story’s theme. If you’re keeping the scene, complete it. If not, move on, but don’t delete. Set it to the side as a reference, if needed.
As much as the writing process is a creative one, it does also require some discipline. Scenes make up the individual parts of what will eventually become a whole book. A system for creating and evaluating these scenes will help our story achieve its purpose. This list of 10 steps to scene creation is a great way to get started if you’re ever feeling stuck in the process. When we’re able to find a method to the madness of writing, we can be more productive, consistent, and true to our intentions.