What Is Your Scene/Chapter Aiming At?

I mentioned in the last few posts that I am reading James Scott Bell’s The Art of War for Writers. It is an essential guide for fiction writers.

Through my interaction with it, I’ve come away with a hundred different ideas. It’s like each paragraph holds four morsels to help tighten up your prose and create books that will continue to ratchet up until the final page.

One of my recent takeaways was to make sure you have a focal point for every scene you write.

Each portion of your work should be directing the audience toward something. What I mean by this is that there is something they are looking forward Archerto, some dangly little cookie that is just in front of their face. Is the character to have a visit from someone? Are they finally going to go through that door? Has your character had enough and it is time to speak up after months of getting trod on? Whatever it is, there needs to be a purpose for each scene, or in other words, the scene’s bull’s-eye.

It’s hard to write a book and be in a fictionalized world and not write for me. In a way I am. I would hope I am entertained at the placing of each word after the next otherwise why would I spend all of this time by myself typing away? But, one thing to keep in mind is that focal point. The place in the distance we are herding our audience. It’s a crescendo that is building and then instead of handing it to them, take it up an octave. This could be an action or a reveal that comes completely out of nowhere.

To take it from Mr Bell –

Every scene in your novel should have a moment or exchange that is the focal point, the bull’s-eye, the thing you are aiming at. If your scene doesn’t have a bull’s-eye, it should be cut or rewritten.  Art of War for Fiction Writer’s pg 113.

So as you consider your next chapter – the one with the scene at the café or the grocery store or standing on the parapet overlooking the battlefield, remember, what are you aiming at?



5 thoughts on “What Is Your Scene/Chapter Aiming At?

    1. Jeff, I think the more I learn the more I realize how much I don’t know! Or at least the more I have yet to explore in this beautiful thing we call fiction. I hope you are well and you are typing away. How are you projects going?

      On Fri, May 16, 2014 at 1:11 PM, Part-Time Novel wrote:


  1. I’ve never heard this put in words so well. This is something I need to focus on more in my writing.
    I will definitely have to take a gander at that book.
    Thanks for posting this!

    1. Lex, thanks for commenting. It’s one I know I’ll have earmarked for sure. Also, take a look at the book Hooked, by Les Egerton. It’s recommended by a lot of well established writers and I am loving it so far. I’ll post more on both of these later this week.

      On Mon, May 19, 2014 at 6:26 PM, Part-Time Novel wrote:


  2. Pingback: Part-Time Novel | Novelist, Do You Use Visuals?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s