Scene framing

Novelists should settle their readers quickly into each scene. To accomplish that, do the following:

• 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 of your scene framing by asking Who? What? Where? When?

Paul Thayer