Finding Your Creativity

This section of my novel writing class at UTA is covering techniques for writing different kinds of scenes. Often, when I teach this class, students will insist that their book doesn’t need one of the scene types — typically either action or relationship building scenes. I think new writers tend to shy away from whatever scene type feels for them more challenging to structure. But most stories benefit from a variety of scenes, and action — in the sense that something urgent is happening that a character must move through space and time to deal with— and heartfelt conversations where characters are venerable with friends, family and love interests, can help round out the narrative and make the characters more real and viscerally present.

Action can key around conflict (whether it turns into a life-or-death fight, or a cafeteria food fight is up to you) but it doesn’t have to involve another person. There’s plenty of tension in a character trying to get from one window ledge to another, or falling into an ice cave. Even in a book where things are relatively quiet, SOMETHING has to happen to move the external plot forward.

And characters have to face the challenges of maintaining interpersonal relationships—even if those relationships are in a work setting or an adventuring party. Even in the Martian, the stranded astronaut had the belongings of his absent crew to interact with. And in Castaway, Tom Hanks had the soccer ball Wilson as a stand-in for a sidekick/sounding board. Without meaningful interactions with other characters it is hard for readers to see and track your protagonist’s progress along their character arc.

Experiment with writing different scene types, even if you’re not sure they need to be in the book. You may discover some powerful writing, or find just the moment your book needs to make everything come alive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *