Lights, Camera, Action: Beginning a Scene
Every part of a scene counts, but the beginning is where it all starts. How do you get your character interested? How do you set the stage? How do you write an epic start?
The first rule is that every scene has to contribute to the plot and idea of the story in some way – but in a way that gives your reader an experience. So the first question you have to ask yourself is, what is the most important piece of information that needs to be revealed in the scene? Then have a look below to see which way suits best.
- Character Launch – what are your characters intentions? What are their immediate desires? Who helps them achieve them and who opposes them? Do they achieve their goal in the scene or do they fail?.
- Action Launch – the key to beginning a scene with action is to dive straight into it without any explanation. Hook your reader with shocking, or big events but ensure that it fits the plot and character. Act first, think later.
- Narrative Launch – this needs to be used wisely. Don’t keep your reader too long, so use it when it saves time and when information has to be revealed before any action.
- Setting Launch – yes, beginning a story talking about the sun that hung proud in the sky, and then moving on to something insignificant is a mortal sin. Pathetic fallacy is a technique, like all others, that should be used wisely, where appropriate, and where it really helps enhance a particular mood. Nevertheless, setting launches can sometimes be very useful, like a jungle on fire. Use this type of launch when it helps the tone of the launch, use specific details to make it more realistic and captivating and show the impact of the setting on the character.
Adapted from 'Make a Scene' by Jordan E. Rosenfeld