Exercises for the Week: 03/18

Week 3: Writing Scene 


A scene is defined by the presence of more real-time momentum than an interior monologue or expository explanation.

Real-time momentum is a combination of action, dialogue, and character interaction with his or her surroundings and other characters. Scenes sparkle with energy and rhythms that make readers feel as though they are right beside (or inside) the character as they experience any number of situations and scenarios. In contrast, narrative summary—lecturing, explaining, or describing—can put readers to sleep after too long.

Your scenes can end on a high note (a small victory for your character) or a low note (a moment of cliff-hanging suspense or uncertainty). It doesn’t matter which way it goes so long as each scene concludes by setting up future conflicts for the character(s) and creating in readers a yearning to know what happens next.


According to Jane Friedman, “scenes are not

  • An opportunity to take your character on a long, leisurely detour into situations with characters that have nothing to do with the protagonist’s dramatic action goals (that’s a character profile or vignette).

  • A place to explain something or to lecture to your reader (that’s a pace killer).

  • Long histories of people and places (that’s dull backstory).

This week, we will focus on creating compelling scenes. Instead of giving you a prompt each day, I highly recommend reading this article from Writer’s Digest. Spend your week focusing on launching the action and narrative that is discussed within.

Be sure to log in to the discussion forum on your dashboard to discuss anything you have learned or anything you have written throughout the week that you wish to share!