In every book, there is a scene that is THE scene. You know, that big moment where something momentous happens. You write along, you anticipate this scene for pages and pages--and you know you'd like to write it extremely well when you get there. It has to sound and be perfect. Right? This big scene is often found near the end of the story, at the climax, but not always.
1. When some major secret is revealed
2. When the danger escalates or reaches an all-time high
3. When two characters realize they're in love, or a tender romance scene
4. When the story takes a surprising twist--a whoa!! turn of events
5. When a new character is introduced (especially if he/she is the romantic interest)
6. When the villain finally gets the protagonist in his/her clutches, mwuah-haha
7. When there's a joyful reunion between two characters who've been apart
8. When one of your characters is severely injured or dies
9. When there's a crucial fight or battle scene
10. When the main character's world dissolves (literally or figuratively, depending on your genre) or becomes much more problematic
Multiple THE Scenes
Books can have more than one THE scene. These are the big moments where any of the above things (or similar things) happen. I personally like to have many scenes like this throughout the novel, to some degree or another, not just near the ending or climax. These are those "ta-DAH!" moments that I often place at the end of a chapter ending for a cliffhanger effect. I think they add spice as well a compelling tension to the story.
How Do You React?
Since we want that THE scene to be so incredibly awesome, to match the intensity and emotion that we want to impart into those words, it's often a very troubling scene to write. We approach this scene with excitement…yet sweaty palms. Fear, and trembling. We can suddenly be seized by an unexplainable urge to catch up on our social networking or color coordinate our linen closets. Or most likely, a mixed-up combination of all of these things. When we finally reach that point in your manuscript, it can feel very surreal!
Tips for Writing THE Scene
1. Know you can always change the scene later and improve it. Rah for revision!
2. I turn OFF my inner editor (more than usual) and write on more of an emotional level. I throw the sentences out there willy nilly, in almost a stream of consciousness way. Usually that makes the rhythm of the passage sound much more natural than if I try to ponder reactions at length, or plot out short vs. long sentences, etc.
3. Similarly, let your adverbs and adjectives flow. Throw a lot of them out there. Really. Then you can go back and pick the strongest adjectives later, and eliminate adverbs by replacing them with more unique (and less Telling) ways to say something.
4. Use music or photos to help get into the mood of the scene.
5. Watch movies or read books with similar dramatic scenes to get ideas about reactions, focus, settings, mood, clothing, visual placements, fight moves, sounds, smells, etc.
6. Choose a time and day where you have a decent block of time and aren't rushed (yeah, I know--easier said than done).
7. Jot down snippets of phrasings, descriptions, and dialogue ahead of time to make the scene less daunting. Put these in a separate file or document for when you need it.
8. Understate rather than overstate the emotions. Often it's more impactful to read of a character who has a few tears or is holding back tears, rather than torrents. An excess of grief, shouting, anxiety, fear, etc. in a scene can backfire and actually induce the opposite--creating a sense of detachment in the reader.
9. Write out a brief outline of the scene first. Nothing complex, just a list of things you want to be sure to accomplish as you write.
How do you feel when you get to THE scene in your book--excited or nervous?
Do you find it difficult to get across the emotion/impact you want in a major scene?
What is THE scene that you're anticipating writing in your own work? Is it one of the examples listed above, or something completely different?