Peter Gelfan taught me to be passionate about creating strong scenes, and this passion has paid off in the form of two books and two Kirkus starred reviews. I read, read lots, but weak scenes kill books for me. Unfortunately, I’ve acquired stacks of dead books. Building strong, engaging scenes is one of the most neglected items in our author’s toolbox.

Many of my dead books ended in the discard heap because the author rushed to tell me everything. If readers can guess what you’re going to write next why should you bother? As a reader, I want to join the experience you’ve created between your book covers. Help me be a part of your story by filling me with curiosity.

How does an author keep the reader engaged? Action, Dialogue, interior monologue, and descriptions make up the bones of scenes, but the spirit behind these bones comes from the subtext. Subtext doesn’t tell us what’s really going on, but instead tells us what really isn’t going on. Subtext makes us, as readers, curious and fills our minds with questions. Brian Andrews, in his blog on Career Authors talks about the use of subtext in dialogue, setting, and internal monologue. He shows how the identical words can be either ho-hum or perplexing and intriguing.

“I can’t live without you,” Richard said, pulling Wendy into his arms, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Wendy said, melding into his embrace . . .


“I can’t live without you,” Richard said, pulling Wendy into his arms, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Wendy said, her gaze going to the middle distance as she let him hug her. (Brian Andrews)

These last couple of days I’ve been researching and preparing a presentation on creating powerful scenes for a writers’ conference. The Southwest Writers & Society of Military Writers’ upcoming conference doesn’t happen for several more weeks; however, during these last weeks of August and the first weeks of September big family events are piling high. So for me, no procrastination allowed. I’m working hard to not roll my eyes (subtext) when I tell someone, “Sure, I’m tickled to help you out . . .”

Check out the links connected to Peter Gelfan and Brian Andrews. When did you last employ your own subtext during a conversation? We could make a game of this, don’t you think?

About Char of inkydancestudios

Writer by nature and for the soul. Educator for life. Artist for love. Passion: All things good and true.
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