Tag Archives: Randy Ingermanson

Scenes: 2 types, 7 tools

A little advice from Writing Fiction for Dummies.


Authors Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy categorize scenes into two types – proactive and reactive. Each scene has a recognizable beginning, middle, and end.


Beginning – define the “simple, objective, worthwhile, achievable, and difficult” goal.
Middle – conflict. Hit your POV character. When he tries to get up, hit him again.
End – setback. Make sure he’s down for the count.


Beginning – he reacts to a setback from previous scene.
Middle – Box your guy in. No easy outs.
End – he’s got to make a “simple, objective, worthwhile, achievable, and difficult” decision.

Writing-Fiction-For-Dummies-B002XGICAO-LVery helpful as a sort of checklist for analyzing, and in some cases rearranging, my scenes.

I can see how one scene type segues into the other, so even though the authors don’t really say, I’m guessing the idea is to go back and forth throughout the story. I might put “P” and “R” on my index cards and see if it pans out.

Note: not every scene is going to be knock-down-drag-out, but all of them should do their part to propel the story forward. Those middle bits have to be exciting enough to keep readers turning pages. (Chapter 14)


“Show, don’t tell.”

We’ve all been told, but have we been shown? Showing presents the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings and thoughts of a character. Telling skips over all the sensory stuff and just gives the facts.

In order of importance, 5 tools to help you show:

      • ACTION
      • DIALOGUE

and 2 for when you need to tell:


That “in order of importance” bit bugs me. I’m pretty sure I tell too much, show too little. Anyhoo, there’s some good advice about how to get in and out of a flashback. Even better advice: don’t overuse the technique.

And these are smart tips for writing narrative summary:

  • BE INTERESTING. Not boring. Only surprising facts, critical info about your story world, and vivid imagery.
  • BE STRONG. Distinctive voice, entertaining delivery.
  • BE BRILLIANT.  (Chapter 10)

This post has probably been none of those four things. Brilliant.


Book jacket blurb. Warning: it’s bad.

A woman regrets asking a deranged neighborhood cult to kill her philandering husband.

Working with Randy Ingermanson’s “Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel” last month, I came up with about a hundred mini-summaries for my story.

Some other versions:

  • She lost her cool… now she could lose everything.
  • A young mother decides she doesn’t want her unfaithful husband killed after all.
  • She wants to call off the hit on her husband, but it’s too late.
  • A jilted wife gets more than she bargained for at the neighborhood garage sale.
  • They moved up, then he moved out. She thought she’d moved on.

There are more. And they are all just as bad. I might as well start designing my own cover art and get my 12 year old to publish the thing.

Want to give it a shot? Here’s what Ingermanson says to do:

Step 1) Take an hour and write a one-sentence summary of your novel.

Shorter is better. Try for fewer than 15 words.
No character names, please! Better to say “a handicapped trapeze artist” than “Jane Doe”.
Tie together the big picture and the personal picture. Which character has the most to lose in this story? Now tell me what he or she wants to win.
Read the one-line blurbs on the New York Times Bestseller list to learn how to do this. Writing a one-sentence description is an art form.

This first step is akin to creating the “log-line” in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat. There are 9 other steps in the Snowflake Method. I might just do the whole shebang for my next story.

Daily Prompt: BYOBlurb