Story Editing: Self-Evaluating a Scene Ending and Plot
Imagine a man reading your novel. You watch him read.
He gets to the end of a scene and quickly turns the page to the next scene. He does this for hours. You watch the entire time, thrilled that he just keeps reading. He doesn’t take a moment to talk to you, to eat, or to drink. The TV shows and movies aren’t enough to draw him away from your book.
Isn’t this what we all want?
Ending a scene well is one element of fiction that will keep your readers turning the pages. You can have many great scenes, but if you don’t link them together smoothly, you might not have a great novel. Once you have your great scenes written, reviewing them in context of the structure of your novel will help you create a novel readers will love.
During your comprehensive rewrite, it’s important to consider the exit hooks, scene climax, and how the scene leads to the following scene and ensure you include variety throughout.
Here is an example for my novel, Look The Other Way. You can see the closing type is dialogue, and the exit hook is Shannon can’t leave town. There is also a Fictionary Story Element for Climax that helps you evaluate each scene climax.
Don’t Bore Your Reader with Repetitive Scene Closing Types
You have four choices for scene closing types.
As with the Scene Opening Type, you want to vary the closing type.
Once you have a list of each closing type, you can “see” if you’ve been too repetitive. Click the Closing Type link.
Ending each scene with the same closing type will become repetitive, and hence, boring to your reader. Try to vary the scene closing types throughout your novel while still taking into consideration the goal of your scene.
You’ll only be able to evaluate if you’ve varied the type once you’ve listed the closing type for each scene in your novel.
The Exit Hook:
The exit hook is the thing that will keep your reader wanting to start the next scene.
You can ask yourself: Why would the reader keep reading once they reach the end of a scene?
Types of Exit Hooks for a scene ending:
- Cliff Hanger – perhaps your protagonist’s life is at risk.
- Revelation – show the reader something that will change the course of the story.
- Set back for protagonist or antagonist – one of these characters should be very unhappy about the latest event.
- A secret revealed – you can either reveal a full secret or only part of a secret.
- A question left hanging – this will tease the reader, making them want the answer.
- An unexpected plot twist – this will keep the reader guessing.
Like scene entry hooks, varying the types listed above will make the novel more interesting for your reader.
You don’t want the reader to get to the end of a scene and be bored. You want them to resist going to bed, or making dinner, or going for a walk, and instead, keep reading.
The Scene Climax
If you think of the classical three-act story, your scene can be modeled in the same way. The climax must happen in act III of your scene. It needs to be near the end. You can have a sentence or two after the climax, but keep it short.
When the reader finishes the climax, they should want to read more. Don’t end too many scenes in a happy place.
If you end on a happy note, try to put in some underlying tension giving the reader the tension won’t last. Don’t be too obvious. Readers are smart, and you must always respect the reader.
How Does the Scene Ending Lead To The Next Scene?
To make your scene lead to the following scene, you have to read both scenes. Then think about what they have in common.
The lead could be something big. Say you end one scene with a big question. The next scene could answer that question, or better yet try to answer that question and fail.
The lead can also be something small. One character could be mentioned at the end of a scene, and then they are the point of view character for the next scene. This will help you jump smoothly from one point of view to another.
The lead could even smaller. You could mention a color in one context, and start the next scene by referring to the same color in the next scene. The reader will get the connection.
Thinking about how a scene leads to the next scene should prevent you from writing an episodic story and enable you to write a story that flows naturally.
This information can also help you decide how to group the scenes into chapters. If a scene has a strong connection to the next scene, consider putting them in the same chapter. If the scene has a weak connection to the next scene, consider starting the next chapter with the next scene.
How Will StoryTeller Help With Each Scene Ending?
Fictionary StoryTeller will give you a quick method for evaluating each scene ending.
The creativity is yours. Fictionary will guide you through your manuscript, illustrating weak scene endings. With a guided approach, you’ll know which scenes you’ve addressed and which you haven’t. This will speed up your rewriting process by enabling you to focus only on areas that need revision.
StoryTeller will save you money on future editing. If an editor works on your novel before you’ve finished addressing structural issues, the editor will spend time on changes you could have already made. By doing this work yourself, you’ll learn how to write better fiction and you’ll receive higher quality comments from an editor.
The History of Fictionary
Fictionary StoryTeller is a new interactive web app for self-editing fiction that helps writers turn a first draft into a story readers love.
Creating Fictionary began when I (Kristina) finished the first draft of my first novel. By then I’d read over 75 how-to-write and how-to-self-edit books. I’d taken writing courses and workshops, and had 100s of writing and rewriting tips swirling about in my head.
I knew I had to begin the rewriting process and improve the quality of my draft before sharing my work but I didn’t know how to go about it. How was I supposed to remember the torrent of advice and apply it to each scene? To address this problem, we built Fictionary.
Don’t know if it’s time to revise your novel? Check out When to Self-Edit in Your Writing Journey
If you’d like to listen to an in-depth discussion on story editing, check out Story Edit Like A Pro.
StoryTeller is creative editing software for fiction writers. Transform your story, not just your words. Successful stories depend on your ability to edit, improve, and revise your work. Only when you master story editing, can you master storytelling.
Why not check out Fictionary’s StoryTeller free 14-day trial and tell powerful stories?