Scenes are the building blocks of a story. No matter what length your story is, it has at least one scene. A scene is a piece of action with context of some sort.
John threw the ball, which bounced off the tip of Bill’s glove, allowing the winning run to cross home plate.
That’s a scene. We are at a baseball game. We know that from the action. What we lack is the context. Are John and Bill professional ball players or is this a friendly neighborhood game. We don’t know. We have the action. We know what happened. John and Bill lost the game. We don’t know where they are. We don’t know who’s watching the game. To make a story more believable or to allow your reader to immerse themselves in the story, you need to let them see what your characters see. That’s what the viewpoint character is for. A scene is more than the action that takes place in it.
John flung the ball at the catcher. Bill reached up as high as he could, but the ball bounced off the tip of his glove. He scrambled to grab it. The crowd in the stands were screaming. John’s heart sank as he saw the man who’d been on third cross home. They’d just lost the game.
That’s better. We know there are stands. We know there’s a crowd. We still lack a sense of the game. Is it a crucial game? There’s a hint that it may be, but John may just be competitive. It might not matter that much. We don’t know. Setting is important. The beginning of the scene should set it up.
We still don’t know if we are playing in a neighborhood game or a stadium. There are stands, yes, and a crowd. How big is the crowd? Are the stands just a set of benches? Or a high school set of bleachers. Are there spectator boxes, a press box, or a large scoreboard? Adding little sights to your scene lets readers ‘see’ the action. It gives them a place to visit in their minds.
Adding visual clues to the scene is vital if you want to draw your readers into your story. Remember to add them. There is an excellent way to do this. Picture the reader sitting on the shoulder of the viewpoint character and seeing what the character sees. It may help you decide what to describe in a scene. The reader needs to see the location, be it somebody’s kitchen or a scenic overlook on a mountain somewhere or even the moon. The reader needs to picture it in his or her mind.
Yes, I’m talking about description. If you can describe the location and do it well, your story gains in realism. You will take your reader along with you on the adventure. Let your characters lead the reader down the path to their adventure. Give your characters, and your readers, something to look at. Remember to place the action in a visual world. Your writing will be better for it. Your readers will love it.
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