Secrets of the Scene Brief
We all have aspects of writing we are good at and other areas we need to work on. The Scene Brief is a writing process borrowed from script writing that enables me to focus on writing different aspects of my scenes at different times by layering techniques one on top of the other. This is how it works:
- Consult your scene plan, story board, or whatever you are using to keep your novel on track, to remind you of the key elements of your scene.
- Re-read the previous scene that triggers this scene.
- Write the first draft of your scene just as it comes to you. Put the scene aside for a bit before going on to the next step.
- Re-read your scene plan, story board, or whatever you are using to keep your novel on track, to remind you of the key elements of your scene.
- Next work through the technical aspects of the scene filling out any of the steps of the story arc, character arcs, or sub-plots you missed, and rearranging any elements of the scene to make it flow correctly.
- Re draft your scene, packing in as much colour and description as you can using all five senses, together with characters’ thoughts and feelings. Also, add in as many similes, metaphors, and back-story as you can – you won’t use all this material in your final draft, but you will be surprised how much you do use. Editing stuff out is much easier than editing stuff in.
- I like to write visually, so I add in an additional layer where I include camera instructions – zoom in for this detail, s
- wing round to catch that action, pan out for the whole picture. For a zoom I slow the action down and add in the detail from the scene brief, for a pan shot I edit out most of the detail and write with a broad brush.
- Finally, bring it all together by reading the scene out loud: cutting out any excess action, description, similes, metaphors etc and editing for spelling, grammar, and word/sentence flow.
I hate reading aloud my own work, especially when my family are around – which is most of the time. Instead, I copy and paste the scene/chapter into a word document on my laptop (I normally write in Scrivener), and use the free text to voice function to read back my work for me using an earpiece.