AUTHORS: Need to Make a Scene Pop? Try This….

1422720_note_papier_collage_1One of the hardest things about writing fiction is finding a balance between telling a story that makes sense and flows well, while also making the necessary details and plausible events (for the world you’re writing about) as interesting and gripping as you can.

Not EVERY scene is going to be a big “action” scene, and that’s okay. Down time is okay, even very much needed at certain moments.

As an author, though, I try to remember that there’s a difference between down time and slow time.

“Slow time” (for me) is when a scene is boring. Even slower paced moments don’t need to constitute “slow time.” We should always try to make a slower paced moment as interesting and as believable as possible. That’s the key: INTERESTING plus CREDIBLE.

One thing I like to consider doing when I feel a scene I have is bordering on “slow time”–ESPECIALLY in a first draft, as I’m writing it for the first time– is to ask myself:


What effect would introducing character X, Y, or Z into the scene have? What energy, what conflict, would arise? What changes (even improvements) might this make to the plan I have for where my novel is going?

When you are writing, or editing, and you feel a scene is slow, why not take a moment to consider adding a new character? Some thoughts about how to make these considerations:

  1. The character doesn’t have to be an established character. It can be a new character. Some of my favorite characters in my novels came about in this way. I introduced into a scene halfway through, to fill a need, and then edited them into previous moments too.
  2. Don’t shy from considering adding a character who would cause problems! Maybe character “A” needs to tell character “B” something, and that’s the whole point. What would happen if character “C” comes and interrupts? What if character “C” (who can’t know the news!) hears it, or prevents “A” from talking? It could cause a domino chain of things that you had never considered before. All of a sudden, new ideas for action, for plot, for conflicts, are popping up in your head as directions your story can take.

Victoria Grefer is the author the Herezoth trilogy, which begins with “The Crimson League” and has new editions coming out next Summer.


Dispersing High Tension Scenes Throughout Your Novel

How “Genre”-Related is the Definition of “Action”?

Thoughts on Pacing and Plot


14 responses to “AUTHORS: Need to Make a Scene Pop? Try This….

  1. Great post – I am stuffing my novel with high action tense scenes and maybe I need some of the scenes you are talking about…hmmmm! Maybe I need to let my reader breathe…

    • If you feel it’s gripping as it is, don’t force changes before you have betas read an edited draft of what you have. That would be my advice…. Unless you’re sure forcing some down time would make it better, I’d get other opinions before inserting new stuff. But of course, the choice is yours! You know your work better than anyone else 🙂

  2. Excellent post. A reason some of my scenes run slow is because I have too many characters. So I struggle to give everyone at least a line, which makes things cluttered. This is when I decide to remove one or two by having them sleep, eat, or do something in the background.

  3. I recently did this in a short story where the sheriff was questioning someone and then went outside to talk to his deputy about the next step. Necessary stuff but rather lengthy discussion. I ended up mixing it up having a minor character dead when they went to his house along with some rather morbid clues/scene.

  4. It’s so nice to see you back again! I wondered why I hadn’t seen you for so long. I don’t know why I didn’t get the last few posts since you’ve been back. This is the first one I have gotten in a long time. No problem..I am happy to read through them. I wanted to jump in and wish you the very happiest New Year! Best of luck with your new job and with your revisions and new editions. I have no doubt that you will be successful in all that you strive for. 🙂

  5. Alexandrina Brant

    Great post. Making a down-time scene interesting is something I always have found very difficult to do. I definitely don’t have a set plan for tackling possibly-boring scenes – though, it’s interesting that you talk about adding in a new character; a few months ago, I was trying to make my opening scene – originally the hero revealing his new house to the heroine – more interesting, and I did end up adding a new character, to bully the heroine, who was originally merely mentioned in other scenes.
    I think it’s easy to forget when writing first drafts that every scene must have a purpose to move the story along. If I remember what I’ve read correctly, most scenes must have some element of conflict to do so. So, I try and keep that in mind when I’m editing a down-time or slow scene.

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