The Scene Book, by Sandra Scofield

The-Scene-Book“….but it is in a scene that you capture the hearts and imaginations of your readers.”

This book falls under a classic category and is a wonderful companion to Make a Scene, by Jordan E. Rosenfeld, from the review a few months ago. Especially as writers come away from November marathon writing and are ready to focus their scenes.

There seem to be more craft books written on scenes that any other specific category, at least on my personal bookshelves. And they are all well written and helpful. But recently as I looked through them for a current workshop I noticed that only one showed well-worn edges and had so many colored stickies it resembled porcupine quills.

The Scene Book addresses the required principles, but adds a depth and clarity to the practical application that bridges theory into story.

Scofield lists four basic elements as necessary for each scene.

“Every scene has event and emotion.

Every scene has a function.

Every scene has a structure.

Every scene has a pulse.”

“Some vibrancy in the story makes the scene live on the page and makes it matter to the reader.” Scofield calls this the pulse and I’ve not seen this addressed as succinctly as she does. Personally I think this is a critical element, especially in fantasy genres where we are already stretching imagination to the limits. It ties it to the emotional resonance we are trying to develop with mythic imagery.

Sometimes it will be subtle she says and other times a heavier beat, but always present. “Pulse is emotional, an attitude, a state of desire or need. Tension is built from action; it arises from pulse, must it must be created through conflict, whereas pulse is a kind of “steady state,” awaiting the trigger to escalate.”

Another strength to The Scene Book is that Scofield doesn’t stop with theory and definitions, but also extends into how-to applications through examples of novels and movies. And then gives concrete exercises for personal works in progress to find just the right fix to make scenes live beyond correct structure into living scenes.

“by a CEN member”


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