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The types of scenes your book needs

Updated: 6 days ago

Books are loooooong and so many can be really boring. As an author that is your problem to solve, and it often means you need to engage so many tricks to keep your reader engaged, turning the page and staying 'with you' and 'in the story'. Much of this interest factor comes down to your actual plotting, your story or topic. If they bought the book, they are interested in what you have to say. But there are also a few technical ways you may want to mix up writing styles to give different pace, tone ... or just to slot in some different information that simply needs to be there. Non fiction is great in that it allows you to cue your reader by using subheadings to mark a change in pace, tone or narrator. In fiction you need to break scene to change viewpoint. As you edit and improve your book you will be looking to include all of the above styles in scenes or chapters to start adding colour and variety to your writing. These are some chapters (or scenes or subheadings) you may want to include in your book 👇

‘I am 54 years old. Large important parts of my life receive virtually no attention in my memoir — a sentence for a traumatic love affair, a page for four happy years in college. Memoirs are selections from your life story, shaped by theme, driven by a few burning questions. So the question the reader brings is: why these bits of your life?’ Leaving Rollingstone, Kevin Fenton You need chapters or scenes that ‘set the scene’ These are overview scenes. You may even want a scene that covers or explains a topic. You may want to step out of viewpoint and write this in the style of a narrator or journalist, rather than try and weave it into dialogue. For example:

  1. What is Taoism?

  2. Why sales is the master game

  3. Carbs are your enemy – here's why

  4. What is mindfulness about?

  5. The club scene in London in the 80s. You need chapters or scenes that are technical All books need a deep dive into the nitty-gritty. If you are covering a specialised topic you may need to really research and unpack this for your reader. This may also be your personal expertise that you need to convey with authority to the reader. In a memoir you may want to play some of these out as conversations. For example:

  6. How Motor Neuron Disease affects the nerves (could this be a doctor explaining it to you?)

  7. How the body processes carbs

  8. How the Wall Street crash unfolded

  9. The ins and outs of property law You need chapters or scenes compress time Some chapters require that you sometimes sum up years, even decades of your life or experience, into a single sentence, page or chapter. Which times in your life do you need to do this? How can you skip longer sections? How can you move from action to action? You need chapters or scenes that are exciting and speed things up Some scenes require pace and excitement. Short words. Short sentences. Tight dialogue. This can express anger. Excitement. Fear. Urgency. Clipped tone. One-liners. Fast pace. Can you find a sense of urgency? Can you make it shorter, tighter, more exciting, closer? You need chapters or scenes that slow down the time Your book absolutely must have some key BIG moments that need to play out ever so slowly over a full scene and evoke every sense. Often these big moments play out over one to two chapters even. As a writer you need to find out these bigger moments in your story draw things out. Describe every sensory detail. Hold the reader in THAT moment of time. Make them feel it all. You need chapters or scenes in the present tense Using present tense can add a different tone to your writing. Please note the entire book cannot be in present tense as this is jarring to the reader. Stick to using it for impact in select scenes where it is very real and immediate. Here’s an example: She looks at me. I look at her. We know it is real. We are about to get mugged. I run to the door. It’s closed. I open it quickly and race outside, heart jacking in my chest like a drum. WRITING TASK Write a scene or a chapter that is a slow and languid "moment that lasts forever" in your life. It can be in the present tense or simple past tense.

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