Fiction writing: Scene framing

Novelists should settle their readers quickly into each scene. To accomplish that, use scene framing. To frame a scene, you should:

• Identify the setting and give the reader a sense of where we are.

• Let the reader know how much time has passed since the previous scene.

• Indicate who your point-of-view character is and describe his/her frame of mind.

• Mention everyone who is present so that a character doesn’t suddenly pop up out of nowhere or so that character’s dialogue doesn’t come as a surprise to the reader.

• Subtly place any props your characters need, so when they reach for a briefcase or gun or chair, readers will already have that object in their vision of the setting.

For variety, offer these required elements in a different order each time you write a scene. You can make a quick check to see if you have included all the elements of scene framing by asking Who? What? Where? When?

Paul Thayer
Thayer Literary Services

Paul Thayer is a full-time professional book editor with more than 35 years of experience. During that time he worked in the trenches of the real world of writers, editors, and publishers. He uses his extensive knowledge to help writers who still have a lot to learn, offering them critiques and line editing of their work.

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