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  • Writer's picturetrevorcarterva .

Visualizing Your Novel

One approach to writing a novel that I have employed since I started writing, is to visualize the story, scene-by-scene. I want to feel immersed in the scene. I want to get inside the heads of the characters in the scene and see the fictional world through their eyes. This is an act of creative visualization.

I approach writing a story like creating a movie (not to confused with writing a screenplay). I think about how my scene will look on the Big Screen. Is it dramatic enough? Is it too dramatic? Should I change the perspective of the characters in the scene? How much detail do I give about the environment, the setting?

On that last point, I think it is important to approach your work of fiction as someone who has never read it before. Easier said than done, I know. But if you can do that, you might discover ways to make the scene better. There are times when I'm writing a scene when I feel a strong emotion wailing up inside me. I've even cried writing scenes before. When that happens, I'm pretty sure it will evoke emotions in other people.

The first question I ask myself when I'm constructing a scene is this: What do I want the reader to take away from this scene? How do I want them to feel once the scene is over?

The second question I ask, which I think is obvious, is: How do I elicit a certain reaction from the reader? Then I think about all of the different elements I can use to help get that reaction: The scene setting, the dialogue, the exposition, and how the character interacts with other characters. One element I find useful in helping to achieve this is to show a character's inner dialogue and feelings. But this can also be achieved with dialogue and describing body language. Word choice is critical.

Below is example of a scene that uses different elements to convey a character's emotional state:

Amelia sat alone in the dimly lit café, her gaze fixed on the empty chair across from her. It had been their spot, a place where they had shared countless cups of coffee and whispered dreams into each other's ears. But today, the chair remained vacant, a haunting reminder of his absence.

The patter of sorrow echoed in Amelia's ears as drops of rain splashed against the window, creating a disquieting cadence in her head.

Maybe he'll call. Maybe he'll see that he can't live without me.

She glanced at her phone and then looked out the window and saw two young lovers under an umbrella, laughing together as they slushed through a puddle. She felt a sinking feeling in her chest. Her eyes moistened as she took a drink of coffee; the creamy brown elixir had never tasted so bitter.

Now let's take a look at the same scene that doesn't quite have what it takes to elicit a response from the reader.

Amelia sat alone in the dimly lit café, her gaze fixed on the empty chair across from her. She was sad that he wasn't sitting there.

She could hear the rain beating against the window. Her thoughts were gloomy.

Maybe he'll call.

She sat quietly with tears in her eyes.

I think it's clear which scene has a better chance at evoking emotion in the reader.

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