Setting The Scene
The scenes in your novel are important to the readers. They need visual clues as to where they are, is this the past, present, or future, and what does everything look like. However, they don’t want all of this information to mess with the story.
Being an author is kind of like being a nursery school teacher. You have those children running wild. You have an area where they are pulling stunts you didn’t think possible. And you have what everyone must be doing at any given moment. Unlike the nursery school teacher, the author also has rules on exactly what can be happening at any given time, how much of your book is given over to avoiding maintaining plot to set a scene.
A lot of authors will be preparing to blast me at this point, but let me explain. The scene, while vital to the story, isn’t necessarily part of the plot. It’s one of those necessary elements that will not move the plot in any direction. This is why you need to be careful when setting your scene.
One mistake made by many authors is to open their novel with the scene. All the reader gets is where the story is taking place. There is no action. No dialogue between the characters. They are being told what the area looks like.
This can go on for a couple of pages up to a full chapter. At this point, the reader is bored out of their skull and closes the book. They will never discover that once you’ve set the scene, you have written a wonderful, captivating story.
Stop. Back up. Start all over again…
Yes, the scene is important, but it is not the plot. The plot is the interaction of the characters. Descriptions should be kept minimal and be on point with the plot. One of the hardest things an author must learn is when to insert tidbits of scene where they are needed and still keep the plot moving.
Don’t give in to the urge to set the whole scene for the story at the beginning and dive into the action once that’s done. Feed the reader bits of the scene, as the action is happening. Make scene a part of the story.
About K.C. Sprayberry
Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.
She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Those who know her best will tell you that nothing is safe or sacred when she is observing real life. In fact, she considers any situation she witnesses as fair game when plotting a new story.
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