Friday Five: 5 Quick Things to Remember When You’re Writing a Scene

I’ve been thinking about scenes lately, one of my favorite elements of writing, and thought I’d share.

1. Your hero has to be active. She has to want something and go after it.

2. Your antagonist has to be active. Just like the hero. Even if it’s from behind the scenes.

3. Both goals have to matter. Something has to be at stake; something bad has to result if (almost always when) the hero or antagonist doesn’t succeed.

4. Things have to get worse. Your hero can’t just make one try for the goal, fail, give up, and go back to being okay. He has to do battle, against increasing odds, across the scene. Then he can fail. Badly. (But not give up!)

5. Your hero may have only one antagonist, but that antagonist is not the only place that obstacles come from. Friends cause problems, parents step in the way, your hero becomes self-destructive.Β  The world itself makes trouble–weather, culture, historyβ€”everything can conspire to stop your hero from reaching their goal. Obviously, you’re not going to throw everything all together in one scene, but remember to check out all the choices in the smorgasbord of obstacles, and pick the ones that fit the moment best.

To read more about scene, pick up one or both of these great books: James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure and Jordan Rosenfeld’s Make a Scene. Then go write a few wonderful scenes of your own.


  1. good reminders. I think I’ll go make a scene…


  2. Jenn Hubbard says:

    Yup! You are very smart. πŸ™‚


  3. Jme says:

    Great points Becky! I really love the idea of stirring up problems for the hero by using other characters, even the environment, or some other obstacle like her car breaking down. And thanks for the book suggestions. I’m going through Lisa Lenard-Cooke’s The Mind of Your Story, which also has some great advice.
    Jme πŸ™‚


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