Scene It! – Adventures in Newbie writing

So lately what I’ve been reading about is how to incorporate the world around your character into your story telling. For me writing the story is easy, but getting the surroundings nailed down so that a reader can understand ‘our’ perspective is often challenging.

Some people treat Scene it as if it were a main character, going into elaborate detail. Some treat it like a secondary character, while others give it only a minimalist approach.

I have to admit that generally I’ve treated Scene like it resided in the trunk of my car. After some further reading and studying, I’ve come to the conclusion that according to my particular style of writing that I should at least bump it up to backseat passenger.

As I reader I often let the scene evolve in my mind and have never stopped to consciously think about what helped or what was missing. Now as I go through my rewrite, I am focusing on this issue quite a bit more than I have in my previous attempt (which has prompted my tip of the week).

How do you all approach Scene in your own writing? And what type of Scene style do you prefer to read?

Tammy’s Tip of the Week

After you’ve written a particular segment, say the interior of a house, the layout of a building, whatever it may be, have someone read it and then draw it! I had a complicated layout of a ranch with many buildings, and the interior of a large horse barn, so after writing it I gave it to my hubby and had him ‘sketch out’ how he visualized the scene. Not only was it a wonderful learning tool, but quite fun! You might be surprised to discover how others interpret your vision. Now, I like to leave room for a readers mind, so I didn’t correct the things that really weren’t important, I only focused on the parts where I wanted people to pay attention.

I hope that you will try this exercise, and if you do, please pop in and lemme know how it worked out for you!  🙂

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20 Responses to Scene It! – Adventures in Newbie writing

  1. I am a minimalist, much to the dismay of some readers. However, I tend to write what I like to read and I’m not fond of overly long descriptions (at all). For myself, I tend to put the most effort into the items that require description (ie are integral to the plot or the moment), and everything else gets a little bit, but not very much at all. If anything, I prefer to give a “sense” of the setting. Is it supposed to be frightening? Homey? Energetic? I’m more about feeling the scene than seeing it.

    But, as I’ve mentioned, a few reviewers have called me out for it, so I’m going to have to work on incorporating more.

    • T. Crosby says:

      I’m with you, I avoid long descriptives as I don’t generally like to read them, but it seems its about finding that happy medium. Well, that, and the ever elusive perfection we writers always seem to be striving to achieve.
      Thanks for popping by! 🙂

  2. Livy Parker says:

    Tammy – such a great idea!!! I think having a good description of where your characters are evolving is SO IMPORTANT – if it lacks, then the readers don’t ‘see’ the story in their heads. If someone can actually sketch it out and it corresponds to what you tried to achieve, kudos!

    • CDNWMN says:

      Thanks babe! It’s amazing the tools some writers use without even realising it’s a unique idea. They use it all the time and so they take it for granted, posts like this sometimes pluck those ideas from them and then look what happens, these comments are chock full of good ideas we can all try. I love it. 🙂

  3. Gareth says:

    An interesting tip. One that I utilise is that I bought a few toys from Carboots (I believe they’re referred to as Garage Sales in the US.) (Some toy tin soldiers, some cars etc) and then sat down and built some cereal box buildings. I then work out my action sequence, check Line of Sight to see if the shot is possible, and then take photo’s with my digital camera so that I have things to refer to via a story board if I get a little stuck.

    It keeps it easy to figure out who’s where, has a realistic bent and of course you can do all sorts of neat things. And no its not just so I can play with toys. It is serious research dammit.

    • T. Crosby says:

      Sure, sure Gareth. Now we know your secret. 😉 Truly though it’s a fantastic idea to actually construct a mini-model, what a great tip! Thank you! 🙂

  4. Casi says:

    I like that idea. Even if I don’t incorporate the WHOLE description into my work at least I’d be able to see it clearly and have some phrases to throw in that would relate some space together.

    Usually I diagram it out myself and attempt to describe off that if position is incredibly important; but this method would show me how well my ideas are getting across.

    • CDNWMN says:

      It is quite fun to see. One particular time Mr C drew something that wasn’t remotely close to what I had in my head, but yet I was suprised to find it still ‘worked’. It took me aback to see something laid out so differently, yet still have the same impact and effect. Happy sketching! 🙂

  5. Heidi says:

    I’m not all for the big description either unless the scene is important and changes the action, which can happen. I don’t like to read long descriptions but neither do I like just seeing two characters talking in a blank room. A visualization tool that I use is just that, I imagine the two characters in a white room and then put in the decor that enhances the scene, whether it’s showing a character placing a glass on a coffee table and noticing a picture of a child, or sitting on a loveseat so that the other person can sit with them.

    I also like to design houses and buildings so sometimes I sit down and work out a floor plan then I can walk my characters through their houses and give the reader interesting bits of background that help define the character, like obviously the guy likes music if he has a wall of cd’s.

    Thanks for the other tips too, I’ll try them out, I especially liked the one about having someone draw it out. I might suggest that to my daughters teacher, she’s always looking for new ways to get the kids to think about what they are writing about.

    • CDNWMN says:

      Oh I think that would be fun for kids to try, I never thought about that. I like your ‘white room’ visual as well. It’s really interesting to see how each writer constructs thier scene. Thanks for popping in! 🙂

  6. Lisa Forget says:

    Great tip Tammy! I’m definitely going to try it out on my girls. The results should be hilarious as they are such different characters.

    🙂 Lisa

  7. I’m definitely a minimalist when it comes to scene. It’s not my thing. I don’t like to write it and I don’t like to read it. I will literally skim an author’s paragraph if it’s all setting. My betas have caught it a few times so I’ve tried to give a little more scene, but it’s not my thing.

    I actually did have my boyfriend sketch my MC’s apartment once. He had a few things off, but it’s interesting to see how he pictured it. I’ve also had him help “cast” my characters – try to find a famous person based on my descriptions of a character. Some were dead on and some were dead wrong! Interesting stuff, though.

    • T. Crosby says:

      Oh casting is fun! I love doing that. Misty has a true talent for that and it’s also something I enjoy trying out when I do banners for others. It’s fun to see how close or far off I get. I love your writing style, I’m a skimmer like you, and writing flash as well as you do, well you always manage to put lots of meaning and emotion behind a short amount of words. 🙂

  8. I loved your piece Tammy, and I especially appreciated the comments. I am so relieved to know that I’m not the only writer who is a minimalist when it comes to description!

    Great suggestions!

  9. I treat scene as something I build as I go. Sometimes I have to remind myself to add scene and description, sometimes it flows naturally. I’m working on getting better at adding more description. I’m working up towards tackling an epic fantasy, where setting is super important 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. I don’t like too much heavy duty descriptions of setting – I think most of the commenters here share that because they are primarily genre readers/writers, rather than literary readers/writers, where that may be more common.

    That said, I like a strong location that functions as a character itself. One of my favourite novels to do this is the YA supernatural book Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healy. It is SO New Zealand, rooted in New Zealand myths too. My goal with my YA is to have a similar strong setting – but that doesn’t necessarily mean paragraphs dedicated to simply describing it!

    I like the idea of getting someone to draw your scene though. My sister is a graphic designer, and I often get her to do little things for me, but I’ve never tried this! (She’d probably enjoy the challenge).

    • T. Crosby says:

      A sis like that is nice to have! 😉 Lucky girl. I’ve not heard of that author before, but if you remember it so well for it’s strong sense of scene, that’s worth adding to my tbr pile too. Thanks! 🙂

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