Don’t let tepid scenes suck the juice from your novel.
One simple step can save you time — and perhaps your novel.
Recognize this situation? You’ve just re-read the last scene written, and now it’s time to write another. You have a sort-of-good idea for it. And maybe when you write it, it will improve “in the telling.”
On the other hand, you’re thinking, you could just explain the action in a narrative bridge. Or perhaps tuck the information bit by bit into several scenes? In other words, you’re not sure the scene is worth it.
So how can we decide whether to bring this nugget of action on stage in a scene?
“Forward the plot” is the usual scene advice. But even following that criteria it’s easy to write tepid, low-interest scenes.
Let your intuition help.
Here’s a quick way to help you judge if your idea for the scene is good enough: Give it a title. (You won’t use these titles in the manuscript, this is just a quick test for drama.)
The title doesn’t need to be catchy or meaningful to anyone else. But to you, it reflects the dramatic essence of the next story bit. Examples from my planning notebook for a recent novel:
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