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44

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 immersion in your world if you do something like that. Especially if you do it over and over. The way to make it work is just as you say, to fool the reader ...


31

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 being forced to resume their happy facade by the dinner gong calling everyone together. Charlie and Danielle are describing their plans to murder the Countess ...


28

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 is why he isn't telling us. Of course, there's an issue of POV here. Jack Sparrow isn't the POV character, so he can keep secrets. A POV character doesn't have ...


27

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, lighting, even the melody sounded so much like Gangnam Style. I actually liked Psy's previous music but everything after Gangnam Style was just a rehash of the ...


18

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 done it. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Miss Scarlett straightened her dress, patted her hair, and checked her makeup in her compact. She had to look impeccable or the detective ...


17

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 paragraph already serves a function within the pace of the narrative, by providing the pause. Perhaps you want just such a pause: evocative, but not advancing ...


15

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 their rightful place as the focal point (without being shrouded by a novel). Perhaps a good end goal would be to construct an anthology. Yes, you'll have to ...


15

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 which culminates with Boromir's death and the breaking of the Fellowship, there's not a passage, but three whole chapters of peace in Lothlorien. Those chapters ...


15

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 he can get to work in the morning. Just as he is leaving, for work, he hears a knock at the door. It's Bob. "Hey Charlie. Sorry for just stopping by, but I ...


14

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 wait for the next thing to happen, but often these moments can be more trying than the action. The conflict here is often internal. Show the characters struggling ...


14

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 attention to an inconsistency in the story by having a character notice the inconsistency. It’s the writer’s way of telling the reader “I did this on purpose;...


13

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 scene on the MF, the wookie wins 'because a droid won't rip your arms out if he loses.' It's a cute scene, flavour, humour, ... and Luke is failing to ...


12

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 humans first exhibit difficulty remembering stuff when it exceeds three items (unless we are constantly exposed to the list by our job or our culture; e.g. if ...


12

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 the 2-step writing process. The creative writer throws darts blindly and hopes most of them land on a target of unknown shape and size, making them "good ...


11

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 this was a bad idea because he had to that point never been outside New York City. But, he said, he went on to write many science fiction novels about life on ...


11

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 could set up the scene by doing something like this: John responded to his boss's email and connected the laptop to the charger. It was almost lunchtime and his ...


10

I've read a lot of novels in my life and I cannot remember one, that uses bold for emphasizing. But maybe that's just my memory problem. I prefer italic, but honestly, that is a matter of taste and totally up to the writer. I prefer italic words, because they stand out without shouting at the reader. One bold word on a page is attracting the eye. It's ...


10

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 you to understand what's going on, and that impacts how you write it. You even add more description as you revise. You've added some internals, but you can go ...


10

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 while staring at a blank page. You have no "inspiration"? Write anyway. Inspiration will come. I wouldn't say writing is like a muscle that needs exercise, but I ...


9

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 that thing, half a billion words? Actually 472,376. ONE NOVEL (and importantly, a recent, modern, best-selling one). So I certainly don't think too many scenes ...


9

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 (fortunately) never come close to anything like that horrific experience. I got my husband to pin me down on the kitchen floor so I could see what it felt like, ...


9

It's always a good idea to give your readers some indication that the setting (whether time or place) has changed. You could do something like ... and she flopped onto the sofa, clutching the picture to her chest. Tears rolled down Alice's cheeks as she thought of her wife. Shanti leaned back in the plush leather chair. Alice was probably ...


8

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 action scene is bad writing. The Hobbit certainly had battle scenes, I remember one where Gandalf was turning pine-cones into fire bombs. Tolkein's The Two Towers ...


8

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, or act embarrassed for the characters, it's likely too dramatic. Some points to remember though: Remember the five stages of grief. You can incorporate one (or ...


8

Universal Story Theory Stories are about a protagonist wanting something. An antagonist or force is placed in opposition to the protagonist achieving his goal. Scenes establish the movement towards that goal or away from that goal. Think back to your “story arcs”. Rising tension until the conflict is achieved by continuously raising the stakes of your story,...


8

My answer is twofold: Ensure that the set-up to the crying is well-established: You want your reader to be able to understand why your character is crying, if you want the scene to be effective. There is an emotional setup to be done, otherwise there will be just a character crying for no clear reason. While it makes sense in some settings (e.g., a ...


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