I was just reading a blog where a writer had a question about ending a scene in a book or story.
I have my own particular take on this. Being pretty much a self-taught writer, I can only offer things that experience has taught me. Usually the hard way. But this is what I learned.
When I read a book — if it’s any good — I don’t think I’m even aware of scene changes. I believe I learned most about scenes from watching movies over the years. Sort of a subliminal learning experience.
For instance, here’s a time-worn Hollywood scene that you’ve seen many times over the years:
The character is asked to do something. (I hate saying he/she all the time to keep up with this modern age, so we’ll assume this character is a man).
He says: “No way. No. I told you I’m retired now. I’m through with that life. I moved out here into the middle of the jungle to get away from all that. No. No way. Never again…”
There are basically two ways this almost always goes. The beautiful woman from his past (Think Eva Mendez. Well, that works for me!), gives him “that look” and…Cut! Or the ex-CIA boss give him a level stare and says, “Eva’s already there,” and…Cut!
Now you, being a prolific creator of exciting, thought-provoking prose, could have this continue for pages, but is that good?
In Hollywood when this guy gets “that look” from Ms Mendez, or hears “the intelligence” from his former CIA boss, the scene is going to cut to the star sitting in a chopper with a grim look in his eye and an AK47 in his hands.
So there it is: Make your point and then change the scene. Never drag it out a centimeter longer than it takes to make the idea clear.
One last word on this subject. If you ever hope to be a decent writer, please, for God’s sake, avoid that poor scarred and jaded ex-CIA guy who’s retired and hiding in the jungle. After what Hollywood and Ms Mendez have done to him, he couldn’t pull the trigger on his AK47 if he had to. He can’t even operate his Hoveround without adult supervision and probably needs help changing his Depends.


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