Seven Tips for Packing Your Fictional Scenes

To make each scene in your story as powerful as possible, heed these tips from Jack M. Bickham, author of Scene and Structure and more than 80 published novels.

  1. Make sure the stated scene goal is clearly relevant to the story question. Don”t assume the relevance is obvious. Spell it out.
  2. Show clearly that the viewpoint character considers the oncoming scene as vitally important. Have him say so, or think so, or both. Never allow a lead character to enter a scene with a lackadaisical attitude.
  3. Mentally devise a moving game plan for both the lead character and the antagonist so that even if you don”t tell the reader what either is thinking, you know what both are thinking.
  4. Don”t be afraid to have your antagonist try to get the lead character “off the point” of argument as one of his opposing tactics. Just make sure that your lead character keeps reiterating his scene goal — and fighting to keep the argument on the central topic.
  5. Remember that people are not always entirely rational, especially in stress situations. If you”re character”s “craziness” seems in character, consider allowing him to blow up or make some stupid mistake. Your story people — even in the toughest scenes — are not wholly logical robots.
  6. Always be alert for ways to raise the stakes in a scene, as long as you don”t turn it into Armageddon.
  7. Never let your characters relax or feel comfortable in a scene.

Read more about Scene and Structure.

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