Friday, May 6, 2011

Write Scenes Rather Than Reports


They're the anchors for your characters,

allowing them to experience adventures undreamed of. Scenes are the visual elements that, strung together, make navigating your story entertaining and logical.

Scenes are the pulse of your novel. With each successive beat, characters discover more, reveal more, and live more. And readers feel that life. The pulse, the heartbeat of your story, resonates in them, and if the beat is strong enough, it will keep them connected, not wanting to leave. Not wanting to cut off that heartbeat that has become part of them.

We all know what it’s like to be interrupted when we’re at the good part. Make your story pulse with the good part from beginning to end. Give the reader not only a vivid character, but vivid scenes that will echo in his mind and heart. Scenes that will keep him attached to your tale.

Scenes. Not descriptions. Not a reporting of events. Scenes.

Write them. From page one, write them.

They’re what’s vibrant about your story.

They are events happening in a specific place.

Don’t tell us Max did this and Sally did that and Mortimer did a little of both. Don’t give us diary entries or a school report. Don’t even give us a letter to a pen pal. Putyour characters into a specific time, a specific locale, and give them a task.

And once you write your scene, don’t fill pages with delay, describing the route to an event and then the d├ęcor once we get there.

Get to the point.

Dump us into action. Event. Happening.

Paint us a picture of someone doing something somewhere.

Think of a series of events, as in a movie. Write those events. Connect them with narrative. And then write more events.

Yes, thinking can be an event. So can dialogue. But events also include someone robbing a house, a teen learning to drive, a woman kissing a man.

Give your readers events and action they can dive into. Give them places they can see, objects they can touch, sounds to hear and wonder over. Write for the senses and the emotions and the mind. And put your characters in a location.

Don’t forget that people move and touch and see while they’re interacting.

If you’re going to use a scene with a lot of thought and/or dialogue—either one person thinking without interaction with another or multiple characters speaking back and forth—make sure the reader knows the where and when of the scene. Don’t write disembodied thoughts for two pages. Put us in a place, show us why the character is having these thoughts, and then go at those thoughts.

Think place. Passage of time. Events happening while the character ruminates or reminisces or cogitates.

Don’t give us only talking heads, existing independently of all else. (When Elsie was young, she always brushed her teeth five times a day. Not six. Not four. She . . . ) If you choose to throw in back story, first show us where the character is and what brought about these deep thoughts of the past. Does the character walk around randomly thinking of the past? Or is there something in the story—related to plot, of course—that drives those reminiscences? Unless your character is naturally crazy, go for something that sets him off. And don’t forget to let us know what’s happening while the character is off remembering. Ground the character—and the reader—in a place and then do your thing with deep thoughts.

Use description in scenes, but don’t only describe. Have your characters interact with their locale, other characters, and their own demons.

Don’t try to narrate scenes—she did this and that and then she cried. Make the story events real. Make the reader live those events, feel those emotions, quiver with pain and gasp with shock.

Scenes are only one element of good fiction; we still need exposition. Stories made up of all scenes without a break would be tiresome and tedious. They’d be flat-out annoying.
Exposition can do in a few words what can take pages for a scene to accomplish.
My point is, however, when you do write scenes—and they should take up most of the page space in a novel—make sure you are actually writing scenes rather than reports.
I read many first manuscripts that have no scenes, especially at the story’s beginning. Think of ways to invite your reader into the story events. Show the reader those events as they unfold.
Don’t recite the events—bring the reader in to experience them for herself.

Some examples: (excerpts)

  • What I did on vacation—A school report
  • What I did on vacation—Fiction (exposition and scene)
  • What I did on vacation—Fiction (exposition and scene, a variation)
  • What Tessa did on vacation—Fiction (less exposition, more scene)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


FYI:  I will be having oral surgery on Thursday and should be be feeling human in a few days so bare with me.

I like to welcome back romance author, Tawny Weber. I love having guests who return with new books. I’ll be the first to tell you that Tawny is an auto buy for me. Why? Because I always feel good after reading them. She makes me laugh and I love the way her characters interact. Her heroines are accomplished women with sassy attitudes and determination to succeed.   

While her characters’ romantic romps make me laugh, they do face some real conflicts which impacts on their relationship. I love the smooth flow of her scenes, and she does flirting and hot sizzle so well.

I know how incredibly busy authors are with promotion, editing, and trying to write the next book—there isn’t a lot of down time. I was teasing Tawny about what she would do with herself if she had nothing on her schedule except a free weekend…

Ooooh, Sia’s for Over Coffee. One of my favorite places!! I’ll have tea, please, along with a cranberry scone with lemon curd and lots and lots of cream. There’s nothing better to start the morning off than yummy treats, a shot of caffeine and great company!

Sia mentioned in passing the question: what would I do with an entire weekend of pure relaxation, with nothing else on my plate? Well, at first I sat staring off in space for a little bit, baffled as my brain tried to wrap itself around that concept. Then I had this giddy thought! I’d sleep. Lots and lots and lots of sleep. Oh, the glory of sleep. Because, well, I don’t tend to get a lot of it.

But then I realized that would be a horrible waste of a wonderful weekend. And that’s when I fell into full-blown fantasy mode...

The weekend would start with a good night’s sleep (any good fantasy weaves in just enough reality to make it believable, right?). I’d wake up on an island, with the windows thrown open and overlooking the white sands of the sun-drenched beach. On a table outside the sliding doors I’d expect a light, healthy breakfast of fruit and breads, tea and juices. I figure a healthy breakfast gets me geared up for a weekend of relaxation more than a decadent one, right?

I’d spend the weekend on the beach, sometimes under the warmth of the sun, sometimes under a big foofy umbrella that matches the tiny one stuck in my equally foofy alcoholic beverage. I’d read, I’d watch the people I love play in the water or dig a moat in the sand, I’d spend a few tiny moments bemoaning the fact that there is no cell or internet on the island so I can’t check on life outside (because, seriously, the only thing that would make me do no work at all is a complete withdrawal).

That evening, I’d dress up in a slinky sexy little number and a pair of gorgeous heels and go out to a romantic, candlelit dinner with my husband, followed by a moonlit walk on the beach. And the next day, I’d do it all over again.

You know what? Taking the 10 minutes to fantasize about this did more to relax me than the last massage I had! What a wonderful idea.

We should all take a little fantasy relaxation weekend...

Where would you go? And what would you do? And what’s the one thing that would be absolutely necessary to make sure you really, really relaxed?

JUST FOR THE NIGHT  Available May, 2011

Things to Do in Blackout…

Power outages happen, and you have to be prepared. After all, you could be trapped somewhere—like in an empty store—with your ex.

Who is still irresistible. And hot.

And who knows how to make the most out of a dark situation…

Checklist for: Larissa Zahn

· Food

· Water

· First aid kit (With condoms. Be prepared. Very, very prepared.)

· Someone you’re still overwhelmingly into (Jason Cantrell, I’m looking at you.)

· Plenty of time in the dark (Read: hot nookie. Lots of it.)

The ability to walk away without regrets in the morning…. (Uh oh!)

24 Hours: Blackout

No lights. No power. And no holding back…excerpt


Tawny Weber is usually found dreaming up stories in her California home, surrounded by dogs, cats and kids. When she’s not writing hot, spicy stories for Harlequin Blaze, she’s shopping for the perfect pair of boots or drooling over Johnny Depp pictures (when her husband isn’t looking, of course). In

Come by and visit her on the websitr at: or her