Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Adding Depth to Your Scenes

by Donna K. Weaver

I love when an author slips subtle information to the reader. There are a lot of different ways to make use of things.

Anyone who's read the Harry Potter series knows that Jo Rowling is the queen of "things hidden in plain sight". For example, that Vanishing Cabinet that Draco uses to bring Death Eaters into Hogwarts in Half Blood Prince appears first in two other books. The first is in Chamber of Secrets when Nearly Headless Nick gets Peeves to break it in an effort to help Harry. Then in Order of the Phoenix, the Weasley twins shove a Slytherin prefect into it, and he has all kinds of problems. That's probably when it got moved to the Room of Requirement where Draco found it.

Mooderino over at Moody Writing wrote an excellent blog post about adding depth to scenes a couple of years ago. Here's a sample:
3. Use objects
Whatever the main aim of the scene appears to be, the underlying point of any story is to reveal character. Who they are is best shown by what they do. And using the stuff around them is an easy and unobtrusive way to do that.
If the blackmailer and his victim meet in a steak house, and the victim asks for a glass of water, and then when it arrives he takes a napkin, wets it, and then cleans the stains off the laminated menu, that tells us a lot about the kind of person he is. Plus he can be doing that sequence of events in between his conversation with the blackmailer.
You can find the full post here.

How about you? Do you have some favorite techniques that either you or other writers use? 


Tammy Theriault said...

Yes!!! Isn't it awesome! I did this in my WIP. A necklace almost forgotten by the MC that she went back to grab has more meaning then anything. Subtle yet so many things to come!

Stephanie Faris said...

Great tips! It is interesting, these things you never notice in good fiction. I never made it through the whole Harry Potter series, but I need to reread the first one to see if I can find where she's hidden things in plain sight.

Tara Tyler said...

i love this and perfect timing! i need to beef up some scenes and this advice will help me tremendously! thanks!