Making Scenes Pop – Guest Post by Traci Kenworth…

It is a character in motion toward a goal that captivates readers but how do you make your scenes pop?

Bring the Ordinary into Your Scenes

I’ve been studying craft for forever, it seems. I want to write bestsellers like anyone else out there but more than that, I want to write quality books. A lot of advice points to bringing the ordinary into your scenes. You could have your character making supper, beds, etc. while they talk, while they plot their next move, or so on. For example:

Fred peeled the covers back on the bed and stared in dismay at the loose feathers drifting from the hole in her pillows. She wished that she had money to buy new bedding. These days she had to be thankful she didn’t have a rock for a pillow. If only she had a magic bean. She’d risk that giant. Mandy deserved better than a single mother who couldn’t hold a job down for longer than two weeks. What did their future hold? Time would tell. Or send them down a shaft she might not be able to pull them out of in time.

Another example:

Alan clutched the heart-shaped timepiece is his hand. Two hours before Chalee returned. He had to get supper started. He took lamb from the icebox and some celery, carrots, and potatoes from the bins. He’d need onion as well. Damn. Things should be so much easier for them. They’d fought Death and won but here they were, stuck in a run-down house, praying to meet ends. He peeled a potato and cut it into cubes. This would all be for nought if Nick returned. He’d bring hell and the Apocalypse with him.

Add Details

Add details to your scenes but careful to not put too much. I hear three’s the norm for describing things. Just don’t add three things to every sentence or your reader will be overwhelmed and start to grow frustrated with everything before them. It’s like seasoning. You add a little bit of salt and pepper. If you put too many spices, nothing stands out. For example:

The Halloween decorations stood out on the shelf. Scary masks. Fake spiders. A scarecrow. All meant to evoke the mood that Stan was trying to avoid. He wanted to do something light. Something funny. Why couldn’t there be a night dedicated to fun? Or was that supposed to be April Fool’s Day? He shook his head. Brandon and the guys expected him. Why couldn’t he make up his mind? He drew a skeleton costume out of the closet. He frowned. In this, he’d be another freak. He wanted to be above the cut. To win the day. How could he take part in a party when he wanted to celebrate being alive?

Oh, and you want your reader to use their imagination to fill in the details as much as possible. Everyone will see different masks in the example above. Their fake spiders won’t look like yours. Likewise, their scarecrow. It’s all part of that wonderful part of us that lets us open that door to another world in our stories. So bring your reader inside.

Bring on the Emotions

Make sure your reader knows how your character feels on every page. This could be done a variety of ways. I usually push the narration. For example:

Goddess. This just wasn’t working out. How could he defeat Her Divine Worshipfulness and Bishop Fiehiux? He needed something, someone’s help? His scalp prickled. What about the girl in his visions? What about her? It wasn’t like he could find her. He’d searched everywhere. It was like she didn’t exist. Yet. Or maybe she hadn’t awoken. Could she be asleep somewhere waiting for the prince in the fairytale to awaken her? Was he that prince?

So, there you have it. Three ways to make your scenes pop. Can you think of others?

Traci Kenworth

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