When we open a novel and step out of our own lives into the fictional life of another, I’m sure that you, like me, have certain expectations. However, if that fictional life is monotonous, we’ll close the book and find a new one that fires our imagination. 

One way to stop readers falling asleep is to create variety between scenes. A scene is a prolonged moment, resembling real time on the page, and scenes are divided into two basic categories – dramatic and static. Yet this isn’t as simple as alternating car chase/fight/screaming argument scenes with sipping tea in a restaurant.  

The drama in a scene doesn’t only come from physical action. A scene that on the surface appears calm can be filled with conflict. If your heroine is sipping that tea with the wife of the man she’s having an affair with, a writer can find plenty of opportunity for drama. How much inner conflict will be revealed?  Does the wife know? Two elegantly attired women, false smiles for the benefit of onlookers, yet talking in low voices as one confronts the other isn’t visually sensational but is filled with tension. Make them best friends or sisters and you have the potential for a real battle. Dramatic scenes can be used to delve into suppressed emotions, or hidden conflicts, and they’re excellent opportunities to show, rather than tell, the reader what’s happening.

Yet static scenes aren’t merely gap fillers between the dramatic actions. They are quieter than the suspenseful scenes, but unless you want to spill into the melodrama that non-stop action presents, characters, and readers, need to catch their breath. Static scenes offer respite, a change of pace, a chance to provide details that would be difficult to place elsewhere, and allow space for conflicts to build. Nevertheless, they’re not tableaux and shouldn’t stall the forward momentum of the narrative.

One exercise easy to practice is to consider what kind of scene you prefer to read – action or descriptive – and then examine your own work and see if there’s a dominance of your favourite. Looking at the balance between the two types of scene lets you know where you might need to make changes to achieve a good rhythm between drama and stasis.

Writing Update

As I’ve said before (and will probably say again) this writing thing is addictive, and I find the process of using words to create images that tell a story absorbing and exciting. Currently I’m going through my WIP, The Unforgiveness of Blood, looking at the dramatic and static scenes using highlighter pens; green for static, orange for transitions (when they’re there) and red for drama. My pages are now covered with swathes of colour making it easy to see the swing between tension and rest.
(I was going to add a photo but the pages are pretty messy and covered with scribbles, so for the sake of keeping the post neat, I omitted the photo.)

I’m also checking my telling sentences. Telling is vital to the rhythm of writing a story - unless you’re looking to detail every blink of your character’s eye from the moment of birth. I’m searching for ways to give my telling sentences more impact – either through word choice or changing the sentence. All good clean fun!

I’m still fiddling with the cover and working on the font as I want the title to stand out and not be obscured by the cover art.
And sending hurry up prayers to the god/goddess of beta readers. 

Today’s Haiku
briar rose petals
confetti the hedgerows – dance
to summer breezes

Useful Links
This post has some great advice if you’re looking for an editor:
A clear helpful post about pace in novels.

I’d love it if you popped over to Wattpad and read any of my posted stories...just click on the links to the right.

Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku  

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

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