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Book: How To Write That Scene - Professional Techniques For Fiction Authors (Writer's Craft Book 28) by Rayne Hall

Book: How To Write That Scene - Professional Techniques For Fiction Authors (Writer's Craft Book 28) by Rayne Hall

categories: Book, Writing Editing Reference, Novel Writing, Fiction Writing, Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Horror Fiction, Write Short Stories, Writer's Craft, Fiction Writing Skills, Genre Fiction Writing, Fiction Editing Skills, Creative Writing Skills, Writing Craft


Rayne Hall

Rayne Hallabout this book: Excerpt from the book


Do you want to write a powerful scene for your novel? Or do you want to troubleshoot a scene that should be a highlight of your story, but somehow falls flat?

This book teaches you professional techniques for making your scenes sparkle.

The first eight chapters show you some approaches you can use for every type of scene, character and location, as well as how to use plot events to structure your scene, how to start and end it, and how to troubleshoot a scene draft that doesn't work.

Then I offer you 20 chapters, each dealing with a specific kind of scene, such as the first and final part of a novel, the black moment and the Climax, creepy scenes, love scenes, erotic scenes, scenes set indoors, outdoors or at night, scenes featuring battles, duels, arguments, confessions, travel, captivity, chases, relationship break-ups and more.

When you're ready to start working on a scene, simply look up the relevant chapters, study the techniques, and decide how to apply them. You may find useful advice in more than one section. For example, the scene you're working on may be at the same time a climax scene, outdoor scene, night scene and duel scene, so there are four chapters offering you advice and inspiration.

This book contains suggestions, not rules. I believe that authors should make their own artistic choices about which techniques to apply and how. There are no formulas that work for every story, and no 'rules' every writer must obey.

Please note that this book is not intended for beginners. I assume that you have mastered the basics of the craft and moved beyond them, so I won't explain what a scene is, why a story needs conflict or how characterisation works. Instead, I focus on advanced and professional techniques. (If you're a novice, you may still pick up useful hints in this book, but won't get the full benefits an experienced writer does.)

Some of the chapters are based on posts I've written for expert blogs, and some sections overlap with the contents of my other books. For example, the chapter 'Fight Scenes' contains in condensed form the main points from Writing Fight Scenes, while the chapter 'Scary Scenes' is a short version of Writing Scary Scenes, and the chapters on Indoor/Outdoor/Night scenes repeat elements from Writing Vivid Settings.

At the end of each chapter, I give you an assignment — sometimes a single sentence to write for your scene — so you can put what you've learned into practice immediately.

I use British English, so the spelling, grammar and vocabulary may look unfamiliar to American readers. I alternate between 'he' and 'she' although the techniques apply to characters of either gender.

Now, let's get started. Decide which scene you want to work on, and make it great.

Rayne Hall

Chapter 1:

Who are the players in this scene? Make a list of everyone who is present and involved.


To immerse the reader into the scene, write it from the perspective of one character. Let the reader see what that character sees, hear what that character hears, smells, touches, thinks and feels during the experience. This pulls the reader deep into the story.

How to choose the best PoV:

* The PoV is the main character (MC) in this scene
* The PoV is present throughout the scene
* The PoV has something at stake
* The PoV is emotionally involved in the events and the outcome

Perhaps the scene's PoV is the same as that of the preceding scene, or perhaps the PoV remains constant throughout the whole book. That's the easiest to handle.

But if the scene presents a new perspective with a different PoV character, you need to make this clear from the start, so the reader won't be confused. To establish quickly who the PoV is now, use a sensory impression. For example: The icy December wind stung Mary's cheeks. Or: The tempting aromas of fried bacon and melted cheese made John's stomach rumble.

If possible, keep to that one PoV for the whole scene.


Sometimes the Main Character (MC) and the Point-of-View (PoV) are different characters. In this case, the MC is the character who has most at stake and who takes action, while the PoV is the insightful observer. Both should be emotionally involved in the events and outcomes.


Do you have more than three characters? That's not a problem, but you will need to write well so the reader won't get confused. If skilfully written, a scene with four, five or even ten characters can work. But if the reader has to concentrate hard to keep up with who is doing what to whom, how and why, she won't enjoy the story much.

If your scene has many characters, consider if you could leave any of them out. If they don't play a real role, drop them.

Avoid introducing more than two new characters in one scene. This is just a guideline of course, not a rule.

You can have walk-on characters, the so-called 'spear-carriers' who aren't really characters, but props. They're not named, and only superficially described, with a mere hint of personality, and they don't affect the outcome of the scene. For example: A surly waitress took our orders. Or: At the market, gnarled peasant women offered potatoes and turnips in woven baskets.

You can have several of these 'spear-carriers', but make sure not to draw more attention to them, or the reader will expect them to play an important role in the scene.


Each character wants to get or achieve something in this situation. What is it?

If every character has a goal, the scene will become much more vibrant. More about this in the next chapter.

Also, think about how each character feels about the others. Maybe Mary thinks that John is a tedious know-it-all, while John thinks Mary is a cute but uneducated girl, and Ben admires John uncritically.

Once you're aware of these attitudes, you can hint at them in your scene, and the scene will feel more real.


Don't use more characters in the scene than are needed. Your scene will be tighter and clearer if you keep the cast small.

Avoid changing the Point-of-View in mid-scene. If at all possible, stick to one PoV per scene, and switch when the next scene starts.


To delve deeper into this subject, you may want to progress to my books Writing Vivid Characters or Writing Deep Point Of View.


1. Make a list of the characters you plan to use in this scene. Assess critically if they are needed. If you have more than three, consider eliminating any who don't contribute to the plot.

2. Decide who the scene's PoV character is.

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More Reviews

   • Book Review: Writing Vivid Settings - Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors (Writer's Craft Book 10) by Rayne Hall
   • Book Review: Writing Vivid Emotions - Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors (Writer's Craft Book 22) by Rayne Hall

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