Normal can mean different things….to me, it means having scenes where the main characters do normal things, like enjoying an afternoon out.

I always find these scenes the hardest to write, but I think they’re crucial.  In my second novel, the central character, a thirty-five-year-old man, has an eight-year-old son who is vulnerable.  In the most recent scene, he and his son, a keen photographer, go for a walk along a former railway track.  They take photos of the surrounding scenery and the father decides to spend the evening helping his son build photo collages.  

The scene acts as a calmer between the more chilling moments of the story, allowing the central character to evaluate his priorities and make time for his son.

Difficult, but rewarding.

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10 thoughts on “Novel Writing: Having Normal Scenes

  1. It’s the moments of stillness that allow us to appreciate the otherwise constant movement, in novels as in life. Isn’t there a quote about music – that the silence between the notes is the real music?

  2. I agree–quiet scenes are crucial–they needn’t be long, but just enough to allow for a breath. What I find hard in my own writing is maintaining the pacing–not pulling out of the rhythm of the story to infuse a bit of, as you say, normalcy. I would imagine that is especially tricky in writing thrillers.

  3. Hi erikamarks. Yes, for some reason the pacing is really difficult to get right in thrillers. Sometimes, the slowing down adds nothing to the story. Very difficult to get the right balance.

  4. yes, and in dance as well. The stillness often tells more than the action. I imagine, Lawrence that people expect fast pace with thrillers, so this stillness has to be kind of snuck in. We need it, even if we don’t know it. Good post!

  5. Yes, easy to read scenes are hard to write. Make sure, however, that there is something there that makes it important to the main thrust of the book. Warm and fuzzy scenes are not enough in and of themselves. Inside a novel, they need to provide something vital. Ask yourself: what would happen to the story if I took it out?
    That’s me – I give constructive criticism. Because when I get some from others, I really appreciate it. It’s the very reason my second novel got accepted.

  6. That’s funny – the comment I was going to respond to has disappeared. The person must have changed their mind.

    In any case – in my thriller, there’s a part where mother and daughter visit a beauty parlour together… that’s normal.

    It’s out now, so check out According to Luke at your favourite Amazon store, or wait until it hits the others such as Book Depository later this month. You can also get it for your iPad at Apple.

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