Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sunday Writing Tip: Identify What Changes in Every Scene

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Each week, I’ll offer a tip you can take and apply to your WIP to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript.

This week, make sure something changes in every scene.

A red flag for a slow or lackluster story is that the plot never advances. Scenes unfold, but nothing about the events in that scene have any affect on the protagonist or the problem at hand.

Something should change in the scene to show why that scene is there. The change might be the direction of the story, an attitude of a character, a belief, the direction of the plot, the emotional state of the protagonist, the stakes, the goal, the motivation for that goal, an understanding about the world or setting, and so on.

Whatever it is, something is different by the end of the scene than when the scene started. If nothing does, there's a good chance all that scene does is explain, dump, or repeat information.

For more on moving the plot and scenes in your novel, try these articles:


  1. Hello!I know this is kind of random, but I am currently writing a novel an I have 2 big ideas. I don't really know if these two ideas are too loosely connected and if so how to make it flow... Any suggestions?

    1. It's hard to give advice without details, but you can start by looking at what these two ideas have in common. Is there a central theme? A similar premise? Common goals?

      For example, if both ideas solve the same type of problem, you night have them be different approaches to solving that problem.

      If they thematically work together, they could both solve problems that illustrate that theme, and together paint a larger picture and say something meaningful about it.

      From a more technical standpoint, start at the most basic point and look at who your protagonist is in both, and what is the problem that needs to be solved? Are there enough commonalities to create one story or is it really two people with two different problems?

      Can one idea work as the external plot and the other as the internal character arc?

      Also think about how you might do each as its own book. Maybe once you plot them out a little you'll see they work better apart than together.

      Good luck! Hope this helps.

  2. Thank you so much! This is my first ever book and this channel helps me so much.

    1. I'm glad! Sending good writing vibes your way. Best of luck on your novel :) If you have any other questions just ask.