Tips For Better Fiction Writing: Adding Details To Bring A Scene To Life

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your humble host

I’m writing a book series called Tips For Better Fiction Writing, in which I tackle all the rookie mistakes new writers make.

And hey, I made them, too.

Which is why I’m helping you not make them.

Until the next book in the series comes out, you’ll see these gems here on the blog.

Here’s today’s example. The names are changed from the original manuscript.

The Original Paragraph:

Dr. Glynns stopped with his cane just outside the open doors. “There you are.” He sounded irritated and he was looking at Brandi. “The paperwork is waiting. Come back to your office and get started, or it will never get done.”

What’s my issue here?

  1. He sounded irritated

What’s that sound like? Hmm…

  1. and he was looking at Brandi.

The crutch word LOOK

Possible substitutions for LOOK in this example: Glaring, frowning, scowling…


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The Rewritten Paragraph:

Dr. Glynns and his cane stopped outside the lab room door. “There you are.” A scowl etched itself onto his face. He narrowed his eyes. “When you’ve finished wasting time on this little tour, your paperwork will be waiting—if that’s all right with you, Miss Waltrey.” The old man turned and shuffled off, grumbling to the hallway. “It’s not going to do itself, you know.”

Which version paints a better picture?

Which is more engaging?

Write in such a way that the reader can’t help but get the tone. That may mean adding a line or two, or changing the initial tone from irritated to more sarcastic, but when adding a frown or scowl, it’ll usually deliver the overall impression of what you wanted.


You can do this stuff.

A is for Action 12 FINALWanna get personalized tips like this for your story and take it to the next level? Check out my Private Critique Group.

What’s YOUR revision process like?

And the less your reader expects it, the more surprised they’ll be – and the more sudden your scene will read. So set it up that way. Let readers think one thing and do the other without warning. Don’t announce it with “suddenly.”

Get A Is For Action today for 99 cents, part of Dan Alatorre’s Tips For Better Fiction Writing series.

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