Which writer has not been advised to turn this or that passage into a scene? The problem is: how exactly do you do that? First, of course, you need the parts that make a scene: action (something needs to happen), actors (somebody or something is doing something), a specific time, and a specific place. Second, the action needs to be important enough to be rendered as a scene because a scene grabs the reader’s attention. You don’t want to deliver background information in a scene but rather something important that moves the story forward or illustrates an important characteristic or point.

Writing Exercise: Read the following passage (used here with the permission of one of my students) which offers all the ingredients of a scene, yet is written in summary. Use your imagination and rewrite it as a scene so that the reader can experience it. Use dialogue, render the place and time, and let us see and hear the people involved! Feel free to post your scene in the comment section.

  • Tuesday, January 25, 2005. Supervisor A shows me my billable hours for the previous day. I had billed only 4.20 hours. She says I will have to get that up to 7 hours per day, OR ELSE! I notice on the sheet she shows me that the charge for my time is $75-$82/hour, depending on the client. I’m getting paid less than $25/hour. What’s wrong with this picture? After the scary reprimand and threat, I go into panic mode and do as much as I can today. It seems to be the expectation that you put in a lot of (unpaid) overtime to bill enough hours for the company.