How to write an engaging scene?
Writing like any other art requires understanding of the craft behind it. Yes, a lot depends on the motivation, and inspiration and other non-quantifiable factors. But the backbone of writing is the craft, the little bolts and nuts that make your writing engaging.
I’m a big fan of GRRM & Haruki Murakami. Both of these writer have excellent command on the language. And when it comes to describing emotions, they are unbeatable.
So, can we learn something from their writing? Can we emulate and imbibe some of their writing from so as to improve our own writing.
Yes, we can.
I discovered a little secret in their writings that they use ever so frequently in their prose. A secret that makes their and many other writers’ passages so gripping that we just can’t remove our eyes from the pages.
This secret is called Intransitives.
Yes, Intransitive verbs.
Before you roll over your eyes and think that it is yet another grammar lesson, and skip over to some other page, let me tell you that it is not.
It is, in fact, a lesson on syntax.
Just one quick recap
An intransitive verb has two characteristics. First, it is an action verb, expressing a doable activity like arrive, go, lie, sneeze, sit, die, etc. Second, unlike a transitiveverb, it will not have a direct object receiving the action.
Simply put, an intransitive verb does not require an object.
Below are a few examples of intransitives.
compare the above with an example of transitive
Ravi kicked the ball. [ ‘Ravi kicked’ – would not have made a complete sense, it required an object]
So now we have a little revision, we can talk about a quality of intransitives. They emote. They express emotions, things that we can feel with our senses – things we can see, smell, touch, feel.
Now read the passage below which is marked up by primarily intransitive verbs. [in bold]
Somebody sighed, from the heart; he looked up; it was Hannah. They were looking downward and sidelong. His sister’s face had altered strangely among the silence; it had become thin, shy and somehow almost bridal. He remembered her wedding in Panama; yes, it was much the same face. He looked away.
– James Agee, A Death in the Family
The above is a powerful scene. Full of emotions and feelings. Made up of short sentences it drives its point, sets up scene beautifully, almost sad, which was its intended point.
Here is a link of Intransitive Verbs.
Read the short scene We became strangers, which uses the technique above to make an engaging scene.
Next time you read a powerful descriptive scene, notice the intransitive verbs in it, and use them in your writing to make your prose as beautiful as the best out there.
. . .
If you like the post, please press the like or/and share your comments so that other people can also find this post. 🙂