• Write/Create, Inc.

Writing Tip: Summarize Conflict/Frame the Scene

Sometimes I have too many ideas. I know what needs to happen in the novel, but I don’t know how much to include in the section I’m working on. It’s during these times that I write and write a bit aimlessly. Writing is more like trial and error. I start with the list of “needs-to-happen” in mind and let the terrible draft flow.

After I’ve gotten that out of my system I ask myself a question: What is the one thing I’m trying to convey in this scene? Asked another way: what is one main theme that summarizes the conflict in this scene?

A story is just like real life. In all our comings and goings, between the situations we experience every day is a thread. It’s that something that we’d see if we were able to step outside of the mundane and look at the big picture. And its often the conflicts we return to that point to the big picture things we need to deal with in life.

In the last scene, I realized the main theme was “secrets” and I began to see the big picture that linked all the characters together. Framing the scene also told me what was going to happen in the section and helped me ask more specific questions like:

1. What secrets does each character hold?

2. Why is each character keeping the secrets they are?

3. What would happen if all the secrets were brought to light?

Framing your scene is one way to discover the direction you need to narrow your “needs-to-happen” list down to your “needs-to-happen-now” list.

Ashley Soden is the director of Write/Create, Inc. She is currently writing her first novel. When she's not writing, she's living life to the full with her husband and three energetic kids. You may also find her making drinks at Starbucks.

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