FAQ: How do I write this scene in a more interesting way?

Here’s the key to writing an interesting scene, whether in your memoir or your novel: Don’t look at the scene like a writer. Approach it like a human being.

Often in the pursuit of crafting a perfectly logical scene that meets all writing objectives and neatly guides the reader from point A to point B, writers forget – that’s not how life works. That’s not even how storytelling works. If it did, Dorothy would have happily skipped down the yellow brick road in a straight, drama-free line from Munchkin Village to the Emerald City.

In real life (which writing is meant to reflect and then amplify), events rarely unfold in an organized manner. Life doesn’t stop to describe scenery, people, clothing, and explain every little thing that’s happening. Life happens because of action. And no matter how much in real life we plan those actions, and how we expect everything to unfold, there are things that derail our best laid things-to-do lists.

5 things:

1. Accidents
Oops, kid fell off his bike and is in the ER…

2. Coincidences
Oops, running into my ex at the worst possible moment…

3. Interruptions 
Oops, I finally pulled it together and dashed out the front door, late for an important meeting and the neighbor rushes up with an emergency…

4. Surprises 
Oops, the internet went down in the middle of a deadline…

5. Conflicts
No you did NOT just say that to me, it’s on!

For those of you writing your memoir, think about some of the most memorable events of your life. How many were neat, organized and predictable with a straight line from A to B? How many involved any number of the 5 things listed above?

When writing your story, use the opportunity (and some creative license) to play up these 5 things. Embrace the messiness of of life when structuring your scenes. And then, as only a writer can do, build in other tools from your writer’s toolbox – metaphors, character development, contradictions, rises and falls in tension, meshing of story and lesson, juxtapositions of emotions, and all the other things we get to play with as writers.

Can you now see how writing a “boring scene” is mathematically impossible? The possible GPS routes down the yellow brick road are truly endless.  

P.S. Swing by my Ink Authors group and see what other pieces of writing advice our authors & publishing professionals have to offer!


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