follow a rookie writing his first novel

Big scenes, little scenes

Looking at the way a novel is structured, not all scenes are equal. Some scenes pretty much define the novel. Try describing your favourite novel to someone and most likely you will be describing it in terms of the big scenes, the ones that really count; the underpinning structure of the novel.

If you go on to discuss a novel with someone and it is a novel you both like and know pretty well, before long you will be describing your favourite little scenes, the ones that make you smile, the ones where you say “and do you remember …”. To my mind it is the little scenes that can really set a book apart; when they are simply delicious.

Well, this week I’ve been tackling a couple of the little scenes. Looking at what I had written already, I became aware that I was glossing over the previous little scenes, eager to get to the next big one. Fair enough, it is a first draft. This week though I decided to go a little slower, finding just the right turn of phrase. You know what – its fun! I have really enjoyed myself and the bonus is that on the second draft there should be less to edit.

So, how do you tackle your little scenes? Rush or relish?


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6 thoughts on “Big scenes, little scenes

  1. This is a very interesting topic, and I have so much to say that I think I will blog about it myself (rather than leave a comment that’s longer than your post — I always think that’s rude 🙂 ), but the short story is that I think you’re right.

    One example would be the Lord of the Rings movies. The big battle scenes are really big — lots of special effects and digitally-created crowds and things flying through the air and whatnot, but the scenes I remember the best are the conversations. Sam and Frodo, Aragorn and Eowyn, Pippin and Gandalf, Aragorn and Theoden.

  2. My comments are usually far too long, but today, very short.
    My scenes take as long as they take. But sometimes little scenes are hardest, often they are pivotal and need the greatest care.

  3. I go usually go for medium. Also agree with Pat.

  4. Nero Grimes on said:

    I go with Dwight Swain’s cumbersome choice of “scenes” and “sequels”.
    Here is a concise take on the concepts involved:

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