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Have You Scene It Workshop 1

You have a pretty new idea, and new WIP you're dying to write. But you have no idea where to start.


Or maybe you've written a chapter or two, or perhaps just a scene or two, and it



What to do? How do you "make it better?"

Let's start with an example. I've written a basic scene starter and will walk you through step by step and explain what I add and how I can make it stand out from all the other FLAT ones.

The sun shined brightly down, burning my skin. I was alone for the moment, but Troy promised to return as fast as could. The day had been wonderful. There's no way I could have known it would be the last day my heart beat on it's own. If I had known, I'm sure I would have spent it the same exact way, with Troy and my best friends, and my family.

Now, what can you tell me about this scene, just from what's written? I know, I know. It's not a full scene. It's only a paragraph. But you should never write even just a word that isn't needed or adds depth to your story. And writing an entire paragraph just for the sake of space is definitely a no-no! Every word.
Every sentence.
Every paragraph.
Needs purpose.

Whether you are sneaking in setting, time, plot, character development, or an awesome twist or surprise, every word needs to count, pushing the reader further into the story.

So, what do you know about my story from the above paragraph? Very little I'm sure. Let's start with


1. Hmm, we know the character is possible sick, but not for sure. All we know is the person dies soon.
2. We also can assume the person was happy with how they spent the day.
3. Some guy named Troy was important enough to be named. Is the MC? hmmm...

Goal and/or Motivation:

Nada. Well, it could be she wants to enjoy the day. Create memories.


1. There's the dying fact. and that's about it.


There's sunshine. So maybe she's outside?

Now, obviously, in only a few sentences, there's no way I cover everything needed to developed a good scene. Today, I'll cover one thing: the SETTING.

Setting can be one of the hardest things to describe in a scene, without writing a boring list of features. Such as,

It was hot. The grass needed to be cut. The trees drooped with dead leaves. the water was stagnant.

We can do better than that, right????

In my sample paragraph above, my MC is a girl, she's spent the day at the lake with her family and friends and her boyfriend. They had a picnic on a ski boat and now she is laying out in the sun on the boat dock with her two friends, waiting on her boyfriend to return with some cold drinks from the cooler. (any red flags about what I wrote, and what I actually had in mind??)

Did you get any of that from what I wrote? ha! probably not:) How can I add detail to the scene? Details about the setting?

I could mention something about the dock.
What about saying "lake" or "boat?"
They are drying off in the sun, working on a tan. I can mention that.

Let's try again...

The high noon sun bounced off the water and blinded my eyes. Even slathered with sunscreen, my shoulders burned as I laid my towel over the sun-baked wood. A boat sped by the dock, splashing water all over my feet. Rhonda and Carla squealed with me, but it felt so refreshing I thought about jumping back in for another swim.

I thing the setting is a whole lot better grounded in the example. What do you think?

You assignment: Take a paragraph or two and work in some subtle setting words. Let the reader know where your character is so they can become immersed in the story, too.


  1. I'm with you- every word needs to count.

    1. Why write words if they aren't important? Thanks for stopping by today!

  2. I'm one of those field-dependent people, so it carries over into my writing. If I don't have my characters fully engaged in their setting, I can't write their story. I liked the sounds and feel of your second example. You appealed to my senses and pulled me into the story. "Bounced off, slathered, squealed". . . I love strong verbs like these.

    1. I think I struggle more with verbs, strong verbs. It takes creativity to get it right.


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