Effective Scene Crafting: Choosing Best Sentences
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


1. Establish Your Scene's Purpose

2. Select the Right Sentences

3. Build Dynamic Dialogue

4. Show, Don't Tell

5. Edit and Revise

For writers and storytellers, the age-old advice of 'show, don't tell' takes on new meaning when we delve into the art of scene crafting. With the right choice of sentences and strategic narrative techniques, you can paint a vivid picture that will pull readers right into your story. In this blog, we're going to discuss how to choose the sentence that most effectively helps readers envision a scene.

1. Establish Your Scene's Purpose

Before you can decide which sentence most effectively helps readers envision a scene, you must first establish your scene's purpose. A scene should not exist merely for decoration; it needs to serve a specific goal, set a particular tone, and take place in a unique setting. Let's dive into these elements.

Identify the Scene's Goal

Every scene in your narrative should propel the story forward. It could introduce a new character, reveal an important piece of information, or build tension towards a major event. In other words, your scene's goal is the 'why'—why this scene is in your story and what it's meant to accomplish. Identifying this goal will help you choose sentences that most effectively communicate this purpose to your readers.

Determine the Scene's Tone

Tone is the emotional climate of a scene. It's how you want your readers to feel when they're immersed in the narrative. Whether it's a high-stakes chase or a quiet moment of reflection, the tone should guide your choice of sentences. You'd want to choose sentences that evoke the desired emotions—excitement, dread, joy, or melancholy, for instance.

Decide on the Scene's Setting

The setting is the 'where' and 'when' of your scene. It's the backdrop against which your narrative unfolds. The setting can be a bustling city, a quiet countryside, a futuristic space station, or a historic era. It's your job to choose sentences that most effectively transport your readers to these places and times. With the right sentences, you can make them see the towering skyscrapers, hear the rustling leaves, or feel the cold metal of the spaceship.

2. Select the Right Sentences

Once you've established your scene's purpose, it's time to select the right sentences that effectively help readers envision the scene. How do we do that? We use active verbs, create vivid imagery, and avoid redundant sentences. Let's take a closer look at these techniques.

Use Active Verbs

Active verbs are the workhorses of your sentences—they add energy and clarity to your writing. Instead of saying, "The cake was eaten by John," try "John devoured the cake." The latter not only sounds more lively, but it also gives a clearer image of John's actions. So, when you're crafting your scene, choose sentences with active verbs to make your narrative more dynamic and engaging.

Create Vivid Imagery

One of the keys to making readers envision a scene is to use vivid imagery. This involves engaging the five senses—sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste—to describe the scene. For instance, don't just tell your readers that it's a sunny day; describe the warmth of the sun on their skin, the bright blue of the sky, the chirping of the birds. In other words, choose sentences that paint a clear and vivid picture of the scene.

Avoid Redundant Sentences

Redundancy can dilute the impact of your scene. If you're repeating the same details or ideas, your readers might lose interest. Instead, make every sentence count. Each sentence should reveal something new or add depth to your scene. So, when you're deciding which sentence most effectively helps readers envision a scene, make sure it's not just rehashing something you've already said.

3. Build Dynamic Dialogue

With the setting crafted and your sentences polished, the next step is to incorporate dialogue into your scene. Dialogue breathes life into your characters and propels the plot forward. But how do you ensure that your dialogue isn't just filler, but is actually helping readers envision your scene? The answer lies in making the dialogue relevant, utilizing natural speech patterns, and expressing character personality through dialogue.

Make Dialogue Relevant

Every line of dialogue in your scene should serve a purpose. It could reveal something about a character, advance the plot, or provide essential information. Irrelevant chatter can distract readers from the scene you're trying to create. So, as you write, ask yourself: does this line of dialogue contribute to the scene? If the answer is yes, you're on the right track.

Utilize Natural Speech Patterns

Real people don't speak in perfect, complete sentences all the time. They stutter, pause, interrupt each other, and use slang. By using natural speech patterns in your dialogue, you can create characters that feel real to your readers. This, in turn, makes it easier for them to envision the scene. So, get to know your characters. How do they talk? What words do they use? The answers to these questions can help you write dialogue that feels authentic.

Express Character Personality Through Dialogue

Dialogue isn't just about what your characters say—it's also about how they say it. A shy character might speak softly and hesitate before speaking, while a confident character might speak loudly and without pause. By expressing your characters' personalities through their dialogue, you can make them more vivid in your readers' minds. And the more vivid your characters are, the easier it is for your readers to envision the scene you're creating.

4. Show, Don't Tell

As an author, your job is not just to tell a story, but to show it. When you show something, you're painting a picture with words, allowing your readers to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the world you're creating. But how do you "show" a scene rather than "tell" it? You do it by using sensory details, illustrating emotion through action, and building suspense through description. Let's dive in and see how you can accomplish this.

Use Sensory Details

One way to help your readers envision a scene is by appealing to their senses. Describe the crunch of leaves underfoot, the smell of rain on asphalt, or the taste of salty sea air. This way, your readers can feel like they're right there with your characters, experiencing the world as they do. Don't just tell your readers that the forest is beautiful—show them the sun filtering through the leaves, the sound of birdsong, the feel of moss underfoot. This is the essence of "show, don't tell".

Illustrate Emotion Through Action

Another way to show rather than tell is by illustrating your characters' emotions through their actions. Instead of saying "She was nervous," you might write "She fiddled with her bracelet, her gaze darting around the room." By doing this, you're showing your readers how the character is feeling, allowing them to deduce the emotion for themselves.

Build Suspense Through Description

Finally, you can build suspense and intrigue in your scene by carefully describing the setting, the characters, and their actions. Instead of telling your readers that a character is in danger, show them the character's quickened breath, their wide eyes, the shadowy figure lurking in the corner of their vision. This way, you're not just telling your readers what's happening—you're making them feel it, too.

5. Edit and Revise

After crafting your scene—showing, not telling—it's time to review your work. This is a crucial stage where you refine your sentences, ensuring that they effectively help readers envision the scene. Here's how to do it.

Check for Clarity

First off, check for clarity. Are your sentences easy to understand? Is the action clear? Does each sentence add new information? If your reader would have to pause and re-read a sentence, it probably needs to be simplified or clarified. Remember, clarity is key when it comes to effective scene crafting.

Eliminate Unnecessary Words

Next, trim the fat. Unnecessary words can clutter your sentences and confuse your readers. Be ruthless—remove any words that don't add meaning or value to your sentences. This will make your sentences lean, clean, and easy to read. In turn, this makes it easier for your readers to envision the scene you're painting.

Read Aloud for Flow

Finally, read your work aloud. This might seem odd, but it's actually a great way to check the flow of your sentences. If a sentence is hard to say, it's probably hard to read. Listen for any awkwardness or stumbling points, and revise these areas until your scene flows smoothly. This way, your readers can easily move through your scene, fully immersed in the world you've created.

And there you have it! With these steps, you're well on your way to crafting effective scenes that will help your readers envision your stories. Happy writing!

If you're looking to further enhance your scene crafting skills, don't miss the workshop 'Visual Development for Fantasy World-Building' by Kit Buss. This workshop will help you dive deeper into creating visually captivating worlds and choosing the best sentences to bring your scenes to life. Make your writing more engaging and immersive with this fantastic resource!