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Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time

4.4 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1582974798
ISBN-10: 1582974799
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Editorial Reviews

Review

In Make a Scene, Jordan E. Rosenfeld magnifies with intelligence and insight the underpinnings of powerful story making. Demonstrating in a step-by-step manner why a scene works, Rosenfeld shows how fiction writers can apply this knowledge to their own work. The astonishing depth and breadth of this guidebook, which utilizes a wide range of narrative styles to underscore a point, make it a vital tool for writers serious about their craft. -- --Jessica Keener, fiction editor of AGNI Magazine

Make a Scene is one of the clearest, most pragmatic books about writing fiction I have ever come across. Refreshingly lacking in ego and full of useful examples and discussion. -- --Maryanne Stahl, author of The Opposite Shore and Forgive the Moon

Make a Scene will answer all the questions you might ask--and some you won't think of asking--on the scene. In clear and concise language, using innumerable examples from James Joyce's "The Dead" through Joseph Conrad's The Secret Sharer and on to Harry Potter, with explanations of terms from "the reveal" to the epiphany, Jordan Rosenfeld explores all the secrets of the scene. For the beginning writer, as well as one who thinks he/she knows it all. -- --Sheila Kohler, award-winning author of Cracks, Crossways, and Bluebird: Or the Invention of Happiness

About the Author

Jordan E. Rosenfeld (www.jordansmuse.blogspot.com) is the creator and host of the literary radio program Word by Word: Conversations with Writers on NPR-affiliate KRCB radio. Her essays and stories have appeared in literary journals and magazines such as Night Train, Pedastal Magazine, the Summerset Review, the Red Hills Review, and the Dickens Literary Journal. Her articles and essays have appeared in such notable publications as Writer's Digest, The Writer, The St. Petersburg Times, and she contributes book reviews to KQED Radio's California Report.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (November 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582974799
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582974798
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jordan Rosenfeld is author of the novels Women in Red, Night Oracle, (romantic suspense), Forged in Grace (psychological suspense), and the writing guides: Writing Deep Scenes: Plot Your Story through Action, Emotion and Theme, A Writer's Guide to Persistence, Make A Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time (both from Writer's Digest Books) and Write Free! Attracting the Creative Life, with Rebecca Lawton (BeijaFlor Books). She is a contributing Editor at Sweatpants & Coffee.com. Jordan's essays and articles have appeared in AlterNet, Bustle, DAME, The New York Times, Ozy, Publisher's Weekly, Purple Clover, The Rumpus, The San Francisco Chronicle, The St. Petersburg Times, The Washington Post, The Writer, Writer's Digest magazine, xoJane and more. Her book commentaries have appeared on The California Report, a news-magazine produced by NPR-affiliate KQED radio.

www.jordanrosenfeld.net

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I'm a published writer who already knows a few tricks of the trade. But I was thrilled to read this book and learn so much more. Rosenfeld deconstructs all the different elements of scene writing in a very easily digestable manner, gives examples and reasons for what can work, and what can't. Most importantly, her focus is always on how things will affect the reader, which means that it can help other writers to keep their audience in mind and is a great guidebook to help us edit/trim/revise for maximum impact with our audience. This book is comprehensive, but very well laid-out so it makes for a great quick reference quide. I'm quite sure it's going to help me get more oomph out of my storytelling.
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Format: Paperback
Rosenfeld's Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time is an extremely useful book for writers, both fiction and nonfiction. She has divided the book into four parts:

Part I Architecture of a Scene;
Part II The Core Elements and the Scene;
Part III Scene Types; and
Part IV Other Scene Considerations.

After reading the book cover to cover a month ago, I've turned to it three times in the past month to look up issues including trying to identify what worked so well in Jim Shepard's short story, Love and Hydrogen, locating a specific scene type for a memoir that I'm writing, and trimming narrative summary in a piece that I'm editing.

This is truly a comprehensive, compelling, and fun read. The exerpts that she uses as examples are all interesting, not all classic but perhaps soon to be. I highly recommend it to people who write.
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I love "Make A Scene". The author breaks down the scene to its core elements--Setting, The Senses, Character Development and Motivation, Plot, Subtext, Dramatic Tension, and Scene Intentions. AFter breaking down the elements of a scene, she then continues to give insight on the different types of scenes at a writer's disposal, and techniques to use to make the scene work. I love this book; it is stationed by my computer desk, on standby, for immediate use.
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I have a lot of writing reference books in my library--A LOT of writing reference books--and I'm rather picky when it comes to adding another one. But after reading MAKE A SCENE, I happily made room in the easy-access "favorites" section of my bookshelf. This is one of those rare a how-to books that not only makes me feel sharper as an editor, it inspires me to dive back into the creative phase of the process, not to mention the humor and flowing prose made it a true pleasure to read. The book is a great resource not just for scene-building but for all the fundamentals of good writing, with checklists, or "muse points," to help make your characters more compelling and your plot--even if you write literary fiction!--into the foundation of a page-turner. Beginners will get lots of new information (check out "Architecture of a Scene," and "Core Elements"), while experienced writers will benefit from stepping back and examining why they do what they do from instinct. This book is invaluable for the editing phase of novel writing--remember, each scene has to earn its place--and I know I'll be referring to it often!
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Like many writers, I am a good prose writer. My characters and sensory details are strong. However, I have trouble crafting a page-turning story with a plot that hooks the reader and keeps her there. Strong scenes are the bones of a book, but they are surprisingly difficult to write. This book showed me step-by-step how a well crafted scene is developed and how those different scenes tie together to create the story. After many years of practicing prose, only now do I understand the way a scene is developed and written. My writing has improved tremendously and I can now say I no longer write boring stories. At least, I hope not.
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It's interesting to see the diverse opinions about this book. I was shocked that anyone would dislike it or feel it wasn't useful, because as a writing teacher, I think it's one of the best books about writing scenes that's out there. Rosenfeld deconstructs scene writing in a way that even beginners can understand. But this book isn't simply for beginners. I used it quite a bit in teaching my advanced students. The thing I've found about writing is that a huge majority of writers don't understand scene construction. When I teach scene and sequel workshops and/or online classes, inevitably, at least half the students will be amazed to find out there's actually a method to constructing scenes. Most have simply been writing scenes aimlessly and are shocked when they realize that every scene must have some kind of conflict. They're amazed by the concept of goal/conflict/disaster, have never heard of Dwight Swain or Jack Bickham, and struggle to master this "new" information. And some of these students have been writing for years and have no idea why they haven't been able to sell. It's kind of sad, really. So after I teach the basics of scene and sequel, MAKE A SCENE fits right in for the next level of learning. I found MAKE A SCENE very useful and very well written and understandable. It would be a great addition to any writer's bookshelf and I highly recommend it.
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