Scenes are the building blocks of dramatic storytelling and narrative nonfiction.
As Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark explains in “Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer”: “From childhood, we inhale scenes. We experience them from literatures and news reports, from comic strips and comic books, from movies and television, from advertising and public service announcements, from our memories and dreams.”
Why do scenes hook us into stories? Because scenes transport us out of our known worlds and into others. We get to visit people and places we’re less familiar with. “What we gain from the scene,” Clark writes, “is not information, but experience.”
Journalists can bring the power of the scene — always based on strong reporting of the facts — to nonfiction stories both long and short. Here are six key ingredients to writing powerful scenes, based on lessons drawn from a movie, a comic book and a song.
When I was a teenager, one of my favorite movies was “The Empire Strikes Back.” (Well, OK, it’s still one of my favorites.) Even though I liked the original “Star Wars,” the series’ second installment was darker and more troubling — all the more reason to love it. Read more