What does it take to finish writing a book?
A novel is written by writing one scene after another. You need between 60 and 80 scenes (which consist of 75% ‘action’ scenes and 25% reaction ‘sequels’) in an average book. This depends on the genre and the length of the book.
Once a writer understands this, writing a book becomes easier.
Understanding (Action) Scenes
- A scene always contains conflict. A scene is written as if the reader were watching and listening to it happen. Become a film director and direct your scene.
- Build it using the tools of dialogue and action. Dramatise the scene. Never describe or summarise.
- Scenes exist for a reason. Something needs to happen for 365 pages to keep your reader interested. Scenes show that goals must be made, and an attempt must be made to achieve these goals.
- Scenes are never superfluous. They exist to show characters. They reveal motivations. They provide information about plot. They move your story forward.
- Remember that something happens next. End a scene making us wonder what will happen next.
The Five Elements of a Good Scene
Write a scene using one of these scenarios as inspiration:
- A bride on her way to her wedding, her father is beside her
- A couple arguing on their first date
- The funeral of a man who was married five times
- Guests sitting in the ‘green room’ of a talk show
- A bridegroom and his best man waiting at the altar
If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.
© Amanda Patterson
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