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For Aspiring Writers

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
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One thought on “Lights, Camera, Action: Beginning a Scene

  1. It’s a pleasure to sit down to one of your posts for the first time in a while. This article is older but because of slow internet, I haven’t browsed my subscribers’ blogs as I’d like and this is valuable advice to a newbie like me. I can’t agree more that too many books – so I comment all the time – dither with scenes that haven’t fed the plot, or are delaying it. My training might be unusual but I decided to spend a couple of years reading at 100 – 150 books and by reviewing each of them; seeing what makes enjoyable writing. Observing the dos and don’ts for myself. Thank you for being so supportive in advance.

    Speaking of which, my birthday’s November 18th! I am in need of light-heartedness and a very good time. I don’t think my subscribers caught the news: one of our young cats died for no reason (major natural cause). I’m traumatized by it and was astounded not to be inundated with condolences (at my blog, where I’ll see and cherish them). Hearing people understand “cat” = “son&daughter” to me, is very healing. Despite only living 4 years, I want people to know our sweet boy. Along with entertainment, a community is for lifting people up, so I’m reaching out to mine. I’m much better but had to try again because a cricket response hasn’t sat well with me. It might help to explain I WANT to hear from people. My post is here. Gratefully, Carolyn. http://cmriedel.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/loveyandthreesiblings/

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