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

4.4 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1582974798
ISBN-10: 1582974799
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  • Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time
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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 (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author discusses everything about a scene in a novel, including the kitchen sink, in this five-part book. In Part, 1 she covers functions of a scene, strong scene launches, powerful scene middles and successful scene endings. In Part III, she gives the nut-and-bolts of how to write - the beginning, middle and close -- ten types of scenes: first scenes, suspense scenes, dramatic scenes, contemplative scenes, dialogue scenes, action scenes, flashback scenes, epiphany scenes, climatic scenes and the final scene. Whether scenes can be neatly pigeonholed into 10 types is debatable though. Throughout the book, she uses bullets to emphasize important points. At the end of each chapter are "Muse Points." Layout of the book is also reader-friendly. As soon I reached the last page, I turned to the first page to re-read! Veteran novelists may know everything that is taught here, though.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
'Making a Scene' was recommended to me by a friend, and I'm glad for it. The book is overall solid and helpful. The exception for me would be the middle chapters. The author makes a list of different scene types, and then writes a full chapter on every kind. She has to reinforce the same material about scenes in every chapter- that the scene has to effect the protagonist, et cetera.... Perhaps one chapter comparing the differences between scene types would have been more efficient. But despite the middle dragging a bit, it still held useful guidelines and pointers.

The opening and closing chapters were very strong- this book would be great for beginning writers, and a good reinforcement for veterans to pick up.

I especially liked how she covered the purpose and pacing of scene openings, middles, and closes. This book has a comfortable level of examples- enough so that the points are communicated with clarity. A lot of books lard themselves up with copious excerpts and redundant examples, but this one refrains and gives us the perfect balance.

Some veteran writers might think they already know the mechanics of putting together a scene, but I'd still advise them to skim through this- there's probably some bits in there they could benefit from.

It's not my favorite writing book of all time- but it's a good one.
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