Or, more to the point, what elements can help you create a powerful, living scene? Here’s an article titled “Make Your Scenes Earn Their Way” by Booke Warner.
She digs into the considerations writers should, well, consider when creating scenes. Her advice applies to both memoir and fiction.
Particularly helpful might be this list of the things that can and perhaps should be in a scene—note: not on the first or a single page, but artfully applied throughout a narrative to create the flesh and blood of a scene:
- Place and setting -- landscape; time of year; weather; towns vs. cities; etc.
- Characters -- characters in action and dialogue.
- Situation -- what is the situation or problem?
- Action -- how do different people in your scene react, move, respond?
- Dialogue -- how do people talk (including body language)?
- Conflict -- how do people express their differences?
- Context, time in history -- when does the story occur in time?
- Sensual details -- how does the world feel, smell, taste, sound?
I think I’ll print that list out and stick it up somewhere to remind me. I often leave out some of those elements, and they can help create a sense of reality. For example, I usually forget smell, and I’m doing a rewrite of a scene that takes place in a shooting range, and I’ve forgotten to include the scent of gunpowder smoke.
For what it’s worth.
© 2015 Ray Rhamey