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Novelist's Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  156 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Writing page-turning fiction depends on your ability to create rock-solid, believable scenes. Scenes act as dynamic structures that thrust both your characters and readers forward through conflict, baiting them with goals that may–or may not–be obtained. Writing good scenes makes the difference between a tale that crackles with energy and momentum and a story that falls fl ...more
Paperback, 218 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by Writer's Digest Books
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 ·  156 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Quick review for a quick read. I read this book as a reference from my local library during my Camp Nano writing pursuits. I thought it was a thorough examination of scene building on several levels - from character to setting to genre. It was logical in its orientation and organization, with examples from literature, film, and the author's own writings. However, for me I wouldn't say it was as helpful as other resources on writing I've perused.

Overall score : 3/5 stars.
Katherine Cowley
This is one of the best books on writing that I have read, and I'd recommend it to either novelists or screenwriters. The idea is that a scene is the basic unit of a story, and if you know how to write a scene and how these scenes should behave in relation to each other, then you can write (or revise) a novel.

The book has chapters on everything from how to begin to how to end a scene, scene length, and how scenes should behave in relationship to each other. There's also chapters on h
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Often we praise books by saying we can't put them down. I'm going to praise this one by saying I often put it down -- and then ran off to analyze, revise and improve my writing. I really can't ask more from a book on craft.
Jessica Bui
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'll admit: I decided to pick this book up out of some desperate need for inspiration for my personal statement rather than for writing some actual scenes that this book had been designed to assist with. Still, I found myself rewarded much more than I expected. If you like to write, whether you're a novice or a seasoned author, you'll definitely gain something out of Obstfeld's guide. The purpose of this book is to inform you on how and how not to write scenes of any variety - introductions, sus ...more
Jul 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
This book has excellent tips on writing romantic and suspense scenes.
Apr 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm now looking at this as a text book and assign myself homework assignments from each chapter. There is a lot of information in here and it is well explained.
Dymond Moore
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: come-back-to-it
While I didn't finish the whole thing,what I did read, I liked, and will most likely come back to it when in need of writing inspiration. :)
Michael Prenez-isbell
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plotting, narratology
Good professional to the point book on scene construction and technique.
Bull Garlington
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a master class on writing scenes.
Brandon McNulty
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Super helpful, even after reading dozens of different books on the craft. Really appreciated Obstfeld's line by line analysis of various passages, both pro and student.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent guide to the craft of writing. Found this very useful to dip in and out of. Great for explaining POV with some good examples.
Adam Ross
Feb 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-writing
A helpful book on the makeup of scenes. One of the big problems in the book, as in many "how-to-write" books are the examples he uses to show you what a good or effective scene is supposed to look like. Yet, it also had some really practical advice for how to revise, help that actually helps, rather than the basics of "rethink your prose, edit, and watch out for adverbs." He actually lays out a couple of really practical ways of doing the rewrite process that I'll be following and hopefully will ...more
Bob Miller
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book. It was perfect for where I was in my writing process.
The book covers every topic about scenes: starting, ending, length, different types of scenes (comic, action, first meetings, sex).
The book also teaches about scene structure and overall novel structure.
I learned to really pay attention to the first and last sentences of scenes to hook the reader and then encourage them to read the next scene.
Highly recommended.
Apr 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
A good discussion on how to craft scenes for your novel. I didn't appreciate the profanity in some of the excerpts in the book (it kind of took away from my experience reading this), but I found some good insights on the basics of writing scenes.
C. L. Phillips
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-style
A very useful tool. I've actually read this a couple times, but now and then I go back to it because there's a lot of great info and advice.
Aug 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Hmm. I left this half finished, but I underlined a lot. I need to get back to it.
Aug 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing-books
Really just an overview of what you already know, but nice for review. The beginning seems to copy Donald Maass a bit, even using a couple of the same examples.
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aka Laramie Dunaway, Jason Frost, Carl Stevens

Raymond Obstfeld is a writer of poetry, non-fiction, fiction, and screenplays as well as a professor of English at Orange Coast College. He lives in California.

Obstfeld has authored or co-authored nearly 50 books. Since 2007, he has been co-author to eight books with NBA basketball legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Obstfeld has twice been nominated for the