February 23, 2010

Tuesday Edit Crunch: Scene It

Welcome to Tuesday Edit Crunch, an informative, fresh, concise, and important part of this nutritious... blog...

Today's Crunch will be a little of this and a little of that. Like trail mix. Or the top of my daughter's dresser (thank you for teaching recycling, 1st grade educators, her garbage can is now obsolete).
In studying the edit, I came across some words of wisdom, that I will now just toss out at you concerning scene structure. Ruminate on them.

Think visually- Write cinematically.
You know your scene. Can you direct it as if it were a movie? Bring in the atmosphere, tension, sound, scent, timing, dialogue. Move it.

Start mid-scene and drop in description later or intermittently.
Write a scene, or find one in need of help, and cut the beginning. You'll know where if you're looking for it. It usually jumps out at me... the point of take-off. Anything necessary for the plot is found another place. Usually a better one.

Heat up the CORE of a scene.
Just like the climax of your plot, a scene should have a point of focus. Find it and make it pop, explode, sizzle, resonate.

Use one POV per scene.
Head-hopping can be dizzying. So far, I use 2+ POVs in my novels, but seldom is there more than one in the same scene. If I do it, there is a specific purpose. Decide on a POV for the scene and stick with it. Challenge yourself to show the other characters' thoughts in their actions and dialogue. 

Don't over-explain. Readers are intelligent.
My first novel explained everything. EVERYTHING. I wrapped up every loose end, SEVERAL TIMES, just to make sure the reader would get it. I mentioned every bit of background to explain the character's decision. Then, I embraced this simple guideline. READERS ARE INTELLIGENT. The cutting began. Whack whack whack. Hold your readers up; don't write down to them. They'll get the nuances.

Strong scene endings: 
  • a major decision is to be made
  • end just as terrible things happen
  • something bad/amazing is about to happen
  • a strong display of emotion
  • raising a question with no immediate answer
How to identify weak scenes:
  • Is there a lot of dialogue without conflict?
  • Is the scene just a set-up for another scene?
  • Is your character's motivation undeveloped?
  • Is there too much introspection?
  • Is there not enough introspection for the action?
  • Is there not enough tension or conflict inside the character? Between the characters?
Find your weakest scene(s) and ask 3 questions:

  1. OBJECTIVE. Does the POV go after something? Make him, or cut the scene.
  2. OBSTACLE. Give the POV opposition, inner battle, physical circumstance that makes it hard or impossible to gain his objective.
  3. OUTCOME. See the above list of scene endings. Keep your reader IN THE STORY. Make them turn the page.
I hope this attempt helps with your scene development. After all, scenes are the mini-stories that move our novel along. Make them count, make them work, make them clean up the top of their dresser. Nobody like a messy scene.

Now, for a little fun. Like the toy surprise in the box! My friend, Kate Palmer from Running On Dirt Roads gave me this beautiful award:

Thank you, Kate! Along with the award, I am challenged to list 5 FASCINATING things about myself, then list 5 FASCINATING blogs I think you should check out. Here goes!

1. I once aspired to ballroom dancing. LATIN ballroom, to be exact. Si.
2. I long to speak Spanish fluently, and once came close enough that I was dreaming in the language. Then we came home and I said "Gracias" to the flight attendent in SF and she looked at me funny.
3. I would rather speak in front of hundreds of people than one person I don't know.
4. My first vinyl records were: Donny Osmond, Shawn Cassidy, and the soundtrack to Walt Disney's Cinderella. I would secretly kiss Donny Osmond on the album cover. I was four.
5. I am a Star Wars geek. Episodes 4-6. Also, Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. And J.R.R. Tolkien. Thanks, Dad.

Here are 5 blogs I find FASCINATING:

Pioneer Woman- Really, have you not visited this woman's world? Escape to hilarity.

Daron D. Fraley- Not only is he a Cody boy, his book, The Thorn, is about to be released! Visit his insightful blog!

Abel Keogh- His story and insight on his blog for widows and widowers is honest, eye-opening, and was assuring to me after tackling a character in my book, The Inn. His books are on my reading list. I look forward to learning how to pronounce his last name.

Writing On The Wall-I visit this blog repeatedly. Even if I've already read the recent post, I can usually find an answer to my writing questions using the topic search on the sidebar. These ladies tackle all kinds of subjects. They have also been great at answering questions through email. Yay!

Bookmom Musings- This is a new discovery and I love it. Jaime Theler is an author, mom, and tackler of anything interesting, informative, and humorous.

And that wraps up this week's Tuesday Edit Crunch. Hope you enjoyed it! Watch out for the the K's, they're especially crunchy.


Abel said...


Thanks for the award. I'm flattered that my old widower blog was able to help you with one of your characters. Now I must read The Inn. When's it coming out.

And for the record, my last name is pronoucned KEY-o. (It's also spelled Keogh not Koegh.) :-)

Krista said...

Abel, thanks for the pronunciation AND spelling! I fixed it. :D
The Inn is being looked at right now as the sequel to my first novel, The Orchard, which comes out Spr 2011. When I get it back, maybe you could take a look at it?
Thanks for visiting!

* said...

Great post on editing.

Looks like we share some things in common (LDS, writing, and some blog/writing friends!).

Adding you to my reader...

Abel Keogh said...


I'd love to look at it.


Krista said...

Teressa, your blog is gorgeous! Thanks for following! I returned the compliment.

L.T. Elliot said...

Great blogs AND great advice! Thanks, Krista!

MTeacress said...

I keep reading such great advice like this. Thanks! I think it will all start coming together when I can see how to use it, hands on, in my novel!
Michelle Teacress :)

Daron D. Fraley said...

This is a great post, Krista!

Lots and lots of very helpful tips to use in my writing. I bookmarked it in Google Reader.

And thanks for the Blog mention / Award!

I will tell you, I had to laugh when I saw item number 5 in your list. I would have put the same Star Wars movies (4,5,6) that you did. Funny.

And Tolkien . . . Superb. He has very few peers.

Annette Lyon said...

Great writing advice all around. Thanks for the nod to our blog!

Elana Johnson said...

I love your crunch posts! I especially like the advice about cutting the beginning of the scene and seeing if it still works. I'm going to try that.

Unknown said...

Great post! And thanks for the award. I feel so validated! ;)

Krista said...

Speaking of validation, thanks for the comments, everyone! I hope the Crunches continue to be worthy.

Daron, I grew up with Tolkien. My dad read us The Hobbit when I was 8, and we had the cartoon movie memorized because he recorded it to cassette tape and we had it in the car. He answered all my questions. It was natural to read the rest as I got older. He also tricked me into seeing Star Wars, because I thought it would be scary. Actually, I assumed we were going to see Cinderella, and he didn't deny it, then paid for our tickets and pulled me into Star Wars. I was SO glad he did (after the first few minutes of covering my eyes). I had a Star Wars poster on my bedroom door, and a couple of books I ordered from Scholastic. Good memories!

Victoria Dixon said...

Great comments, Krista. You've made me think on certain scenes and how I might make them stronger.
I followed you from "Pitching a Winner!"

Krista said...

Thanks for stopping by, Victoria. That was a great post on pitching a story. I need to work on that. Come back!

Precision Editing Group said...

Thanks for the blog award! Great post, by the way.

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