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45 votes

Don't look at what I did there

Skipping scenes is usually quite welcome in a novel. Sometimes you don't want to see every step. But the amount of skipping you propose is pretty jarring. You will break your readers out of their ...
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31 votes

How to not confuse readers with simultaneous events?

You could try using a common element outside of any of the scenes themselves to establish a common reference point in time. For example describe Alice and Bob having a heated marriage argument but ...
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  • 311
28 votes

I wrote a scene that the majority of my readers loved. How do I get back to that place while writing my new book?

You can't. Do you know Psy? As in Gangnam Style? They tried SO HARD to make comebacks. What did they do wrong? Everything they did after that was a rehashing of Gangnam Style. The cinematography, ...
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  • 1,485
28 votes

Don't look at what I did there

How did Jack Sparrow escape that island he got stranded on? "Sea turtles". He escaped somehow, and he isn't going to tell us how. In fact, not telling us adds to his mystique. And he knows it, which ...
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20 votes
Accepted

How can I indicate time passing?

What does the time spend hiding do to your character? Pick things that start off easy to manage, but becomes hard to maintain (especially under stress or pressure), and talk about those. For example,...
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  • 2,136
18 votes
Accepted

How to not confuse readers with simultaneous events?

If your goal is hectic momentum, then two-sentence paragraphs with a visual indicator of "scene change" might work. Colonel Mustard frantically wiped up the table. No one would believe he hadn't ...
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18 votes
Accepted

Spicing up a moment of peace

You seem to suggest that a paragraph that has no other function whatsoever within the narrative, beyond providing an evocative pause, is somehow special, or maybe even "pure". Of course, such a ...
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16 votes

How can I indicate time passing?

One possibility is to just say that time has passed. "The two men sat staring at each other, neither saying a word, for fifteen minutes." Another possibility is to fill the time with action. If the ...
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  • 25.2k
15 votes

A handful of gems

It seems like if you're good at constructing isolated, very good scenes, the field you need to focus on is short stories, where one can quickly construct contexts that allow gems to shine, and take up ...
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  • 9,114
15 votes

Spicing up a moment of peace

Take a look at The Lord of the Rings as an example. Between the tense episode in Moria, that culminated with Gandalf's fall while the other characters escape, and the mounting tension of the Anduin ...
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15 votes

Don't look at what I did there

As long as you don't keep people hanging too long and you do the skip at an appropriate time, it can work. Bob meets Charlie on a chatroom. They talk for a while, then Charlie has to go to bed so ...
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15 votes
Accepted

Don't look at what I did there

Hang a lantern on it. If you're truly interested in not answering these questions, then I think your only remaining choice is to hang a lantern on it: To hang a lantern (or “hang a lamp”) is to call ...
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  • 684
14 votes

Static Scenes that still Move the Story Forward

Most men's hearts are brave in the moment in the firefight. It's the minutes and hours waiting,that's when fear creeps in. This is the great thing about static scenes. This is where the characters ...
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  • 3,729
14 votes
Accepted

How to clearly distinguish the settings of different scenes from each other, and make them "feel" different?

I think what you are being asked for is to personalize the settings. Imagine yourself walking into two places — one is place you think is dangerous and the other place is your safe-space or homey. For ...
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  • 7,997
13 votes

How do you assess the value of an individual scene?

The prevalent theory suggests that each scene must do one of two things: move the plot along, or offer characterization. To use your own words (or your quoted words): In SW:A new hope, in the chess ...
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  • 5,441
12 votes

Sensory Information Overload

The Rule of Three. In another context, this has been studied scientifically by psychologists. AKA the 80/20 rule, and the law of diminishing returns. Specifically the study of mentality suggests we ...
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  • 93.2k
12 votes

Identifying and managing weak scenes during planning

The characters in it couldn't possibly behave like I initially thought. This was due to some nuances of the story that I developed while writing. I think this is a natural and positive aspect of ...
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  • 24.8k
11 votes
Accepted

How does a person go about describing a place/experience that they never personally experienced before, like a circus?

Your question reminds me of an article I once read by the novelist Isaac Asimov. He said that his first attempt at writing fiction was about people living in a small town, and that others told him ...
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  • 25.2k
11 votes

Is it advisable to add a location heads-up when a scene changes in a novel?

I wouldn't advise doing that. It breaks the immersion in my opinion. From what I have seen, writers usually do that when talking about different times. You can't easily explain twenty years ago. You ...
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  • 1,732
11 votes

How to clearly distinguish the settings of different scenes from each other, and make them "feel" different?

To make scenes feel different, you have to use a different set of descriptive words. For a diner, it could feel cozy and quiet, and the first thing they might notice is how warm and comfortable the ...
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  • 1,541
10 votes

Skipping the action scene

I am not convinced of your premise that people don't read books for action scenes, nor that numerous fighting scenes are "just bad writing." I'd argue that knocking a character out just to skip an ...
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  • 276
10 votes

Sensory Information Overload

In the first draft you put all of them in. You are discovering the scene for yourself. What you have written is your image of the scene. This is not what the reader needs to read, however. It's for ...
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  • 23.7k
10 votes

I wrote a scene that the majority of my readers loved. How do I get back to that place while writing my new book?

You write. If what comes under your fingers is not great, if you're not satisfied, you rewrite. It's easier to find what needs to be improved once you have something, than finding the perfect scene ...
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9 votes

How to write a death scene without making it overdramatic?

Over-dramatizing situations is one of the most common pitfalls I see early-stage writers fall into. My best advice would be to give it to another person and have them read it. If they blush, grimace, ...
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  • 483
9 votes

Do too many scenes exhaust the reader?

Obviously this is 100% my opinion, there is no hard and fast rule. Consider how many scenes are in King's epic book The Stand: I bought it when it first came out and I couldn't put it down. What is ...
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  • 93.2k
9 votes

Help with my story - elements of a scene

I had to write a fairly graphic rape scene where my protagonist is pinned to the kitchen floor and needs to free one of her hands if she has any chance of fighting back. It was a challenge as I've (...
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  • 9,883

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