Friday, February 19, 2021

Let’s Make A Scene

By Candace Fleming

Are you ready to dig down and get nitty-gritty with craft? I hope so, because today we’re talking… scenes! We can’t write narrative nonfiction without them.   

Scenes are the building blocks of true story; whether you’re writing a picture book, middle grade, or YA. Each scene is a microcosm of your larger story. Each takes the reader into a crucial moment in the narrative. And each not only drives the story forward, but also fosters a sense of immediacy by showing the action up close.           

A scene’s structure consists of three basic elements:

A specific time

A specific place

One change

Since the first two are self-explanatory, let’s focus on the third element, change. Think of your scene as a mini-story with a rising energy that builds to a change. Love to hate. Joy to sorrow. Belief to disbelief. Confusion to clarity. Something must be different at the end of the scene than at its beginning.     


Let’s take a look at this scene from Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera:

            On the morning Apis drops to the ground,

            the air is warm. The sun is rising. And the

            nectar is sweet.

                        She rolls to her back.

                                    Her legs move limply.

                                                Her wings beat limply.

            Above her, blossoms nod in the summer

            breeze.

            Apis stills.        

 

You’ll notice the scene starts as close to the action (dying) as possible. And it ends the moment the change occurs (death). It has a purpose because it shows the reader something vitally important to the story. It deepens reader emotion for the character. And it moves the story forward to its logical conclusion.

There are three types of scenes:

         No characters and one change:

In the heart of the command center, a single wire, stiff and brittle from 10,000 cycles of heating and cooling, snapped away from the circuit board. It set off an alarm--a pulse of electricity--that raced to a tiny light on a monitored panel. But the light,  never used and never tested, failed to switch on. Those two failures, broken circuit and burned out bulb, would have terrifying consequences. 

                 (From my forthcoming middle grade Bletchley Girls: The Teenagers Who Helped Win A War)        

         

        One character making one change:

But one day when MacArthur was two months old, zoo officials decided to take him back to the zoo. Helen held her baby close until the car came. And tried to smile as MacArthur was driven away. Then she folded up the baby blankets; stowed tub, crib, and bottles; and sank into the rocking chars with empty arms and an empty lap. 
 
(From the picture book Cubs In The Tub: The True Story of the Bronx Zoo’s First Woman Zookeeper)

           


Two or more characters one change:

                 Charles was on board doing his usual chores when  Bruce and Richard approached.  

                 “Colonel,” said Bruce. “I have a message for you.  They have found the  baby.”
 
                 “Found --?” cried Charles. 
 
                 “He is dead.” 
 
                 Charles rubbed his forehead. His eyes were bloodshot, and for a second he looked a little 
                  unsteady. Then he glanced around the cabin. “I’m going home,” was all he said.
                         
                  Alone, he drove through the darkness toward Hopewell.
 
                 (From the YA biography, The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh)

           

Each has a specific place and time, as well as one change. But notice how that change (small, but complete) drives the story forward, compelling the reader to turn the page and find out what happens next. Additionally, each comes in close, using, dialogue and description, emotion, and atmosphere to show an event. They are active. And they are 100% accurate. Not a single detail – not that dialogue, the description of wires, the bloodshot eyes, or the forehead rubbing – is invented. This is nonfiction, after all, and every detail in our scenes must come from a reliable source.        

 

Scenes are held together by short sections of summary. Summary tells the reader something necessary without creating a full scene. You can use summary to transition between scenes, set the tone or mood for the next scene, leap forward in time, or explain something (context) your readers will need to understand the next scene. We can identify it by its lack of time and place. But just because summary is “telling” rather than “showing,” does not mean it’s boring. Good summary is compelling and should whet your reader’s appetite for the next scene. Here’s an example of a short scene flanked by two bits of summary:

 

Carter traveled by steamship to Alexandria, and by train to bustling Cairo, by ferry across the Nile River, and by donkey up a steep desert trail to a set of tombs carved high in the cliffs. (summary)          

That first night as he lay on a rough mattress made of woven palm sticks, he felt exhausted, overwhelmed, and a little homesick. He was, he told himself, “on the eve of an adventure.” The teenager’s new life had begun. (brief scene)

For months afterward, he copied the paintings that decorated the long, winding tunnels of the dark tombs…. (summary)

(From the forthcoming middle grade n/f The Curse of the Mummy)

        

The best narrative nonfiction is a mix of scene and summary. In my own writing--whether I’m tackling a picture book, or YA--my goal is to use as many scenes as possible. I try to use more scenes than summary. I try to keep my summary short.  

 

ACTIVITY

Now, it’s your turn. Gather up your favorite narrative nonfiction and identify the scenes. What is each changes effect upon the story? How does it drive the story forward? Is the scene designed to slow the pace (contemplative) or bring up the energy (suspense)? Look at the summary. Will it keep reader interest? Does the information it contains lead seamlessly to the following scene? And lastly, what’s the ratio of scene to summary? Do those books with more scenes read more compulsively? Do they have a stronger narrative impulse, drawing readers on with ease?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Candace Fleming writes picture books, middle grade, and YA. Among her nonfiction titles are Giant Squid, Amelia Lost and The Family Romanov. She is the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Orbis Pictus Award, as well as the two-time recipient of both the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Nonfiction, and SCBWI’s Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction. This year she won ALA’s Sibert Medal for Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera, as well as the 2021 YALSA Excellence In Nonfiction Award for The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh.

 

 

ABOUT THE PRIZE

Candace Fleming will be awarding a manuscript critique of a nonfiction picture book up to 1,500 words.

                       

           

           

 

193 comments:

  1. Honeybee go smacked me when I read it last night, Candace. I cannot wait to share it with my beekeeping husband. I am going back to it to study each scene and transition, and to marvel at your husband’s artwork. Thank you!

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    1. I'm eager to hear what he thinks, Carmela. And yep... scenes.

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  2. Thank you for your explanation of scene and summary. I have a much better grasp of them now. And your honeybee book is exquisite.

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  3. Dear Candace, You are an amazing author and teacher. Thanks for the lessons and examples in this post. Gotta get down and dirty with my NF manuscripts and study my own scenes. And, what a prize you've offered. Thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. Count those scenes, Mona. And make sure they're scenes... that change, remember?

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  4. I have been reading about scenes in writing for years, but this post, with its variety of examples, really nailed down the meaning. This was fabulous, and a post that I know I will be referring to again and again, both for myself and for others. Thanks so much.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Susan. I'm really glad I could help in some way.

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  5. This is wonderful advice. I've already reread your blog three times. I'm going back for a fourth( maybe more) as I really need to adopt and understand scenes and summaries. Thank you. Immensely.

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    1. Feel free to ask any questions if you need some clarification, Freda. It's a lot of information in a short article.

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  6. Ahhh, this made me re-live that wonderful class you taught at the NF Beachside Retreat! I'm so happy for this review as I'd kind of forgotten the finer points of the talk. Thank you, Candy!

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    1. Oh, ladies, you know me and scenes. My soapbox. It's the one thing I think we
      n/f writers sometimes forget.

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  7. Thank you for this explicit lesson! I too was at the NF Beachside Retreat and am grateful for the lesson review.

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    1. Repetition can be good sometimes, huh? Glad to have given you a review.

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  8. NF Beachside Retreat??? That sounds fantastic. As I was reading your post I was thinking about the current story I am working on - identifying the scenes and the summaries. This is such a great way to break down an MS. Thank you!

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    1. You're going to have doing it. I know it sounds dorky, but I love blocking out scenes. It gives me a sense of the story and its movement. It also reminds me (especially when writing longer forms of n/f) that its NOT that big a project... doable, you know?

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    2. Yes, very doable when looking at it that way. Thanks so much for this great article and excellent explanation of scene and summary.

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  9. Thank you for helping me learn about scenes and summaries. I’m new to nonfiction and this helped a lot.

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    1. I'm glad I could be of help, Marty. And welcome to the n/f community!

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  10. Thank you Candace! I heard you speak at a regional SCBWI conference a few years ago. I am so thankful for writers like you who so generously share your knowledge and experience with others in the field. And for SCBWI that facilitates the coming together of like-minded people. I loved the story of Apis - it deepened my love and respect for the humble honey bee. Thanks again!

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    1. Oh, you've made me smile this morning. Thanks for the kind words. The whole point of Honeybee was to deepen people's respect and understanding. Knowing the book worked for you like that? Well, it's a huge compliment.

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  11. Candace, your instruction is direct and meaningful for me and anyone else who is in revision of a manuscript. My revision may include to change the genre of my biography from middle grade to picture book.

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    1. I'm glad it helped crystalize your vision. Sometimes playing with scenes, moving them around a bit like playing cards, can help you see your story and its purpose more clearly.

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  12. Thank you for showing how scenes are building blocks and a mini-story within the story. I heard your talk about this in 2015 and find it so helpful to reread it here -- writing narrative nonfiction: a scene (with rising action), a brief summary, and, most importantly, a change. As I revise, I will be reading your post many times. Love your books and congratulations on the many well-deserved awards you have received for them.

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    1. Thanks for the congrats, Lori. And good luck with that scene building!

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  13. Thank you for your explanation of the three basic elements of a scene.

    I'm going to try to make some very simple ones to play around with the "one change."

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    1. THAT is a brilliant idea. And just for practice, why not write some fictional scenes just to get the feel and pace of one?

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  14. Thank you for sharing your insights with us, and for citing specific examples and reflection of scene with change.

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  15. It's time to make a scene with my mss! And I thought HONEYBEE was brilliant:-)

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    1. Yep, make a scene! And thanks for the nice words about HB.

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  16. This post reminded me most happily of the workshop you did at Woodcliff, near Rochester NY 2 (?) years ago. Such a timely and useful review. Thanks so much!

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    1. Wasn't that the most fun? Geez, was it really two years ago?

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  17. What a terrific topic today! Thank you! I needed this!

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  18. I'm going to reread this article so many times! Thank you.

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    1. It IS a lot of information crammed into a small space. Still, I hope it helps in some small way.

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  19. Bingo! I now see what's wrong with my pb bio.

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    1. You know, whenever I'm stymied with a piece of nonfiction it's usually because I forgot to focus on scenes. Go make some, Emily. I'd love to know if it improves your story.

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  20. Wow, thank you for breaking this down so clearly - definitely a post that I will be referring back to again and again, along with using the activity questions to examine and learn from mentor texts. :)

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    1. I find that the n/f books I love most are those that have lots of scenes. I'll be curious to know if the same is true for you.

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  21. Wow such great information and examples. Thank you!

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  22. Thanks for this close look at how scenes work.I have been told that I need to focus more on scenes. (stomping off now to go make a scene!)

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    1. Well, be sure to stomp back and tell us how it went!

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  23. Wow Candice- this explains how your books are so effective. I feel inspired and motivated to really examine the purpose of each scene I write. Thank you!

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  24. "Scenes not summary" my mantra for today's writing!

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    1. You and I now have the same writing mantra, Tonya. Make a scene!

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  25. Super useful post Candace! I well remember your presentation & mss critique years ago on Mackinac Island. Thinking about scenes (and journaling) were amazing takeaways. Thrilled to report that that manuscript will be published next year! Many thanks!!

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    1. Oh, big congrats, Lindsey. I can't wait to see it on the bookshelf. Woot!

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  26. Thank you for this detailed post on scene and summary, Candace! I'm going to apply it to a study of award winning NF titles.

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    1. Wonderful, Jill. Can't wait to hear what you discover.

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  27. I'm so impressed and inspired by the UNINVENTED detail in your scenes!

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    1. Not a single detail is invented. It all comes from research, which is why a deep dive into your subject, their times and world are essential.

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  28. This is great information and I can’t wait to do the exercise. Thank you!

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  29. Candace, I appreciate your craft post. I will go through my WIP scene by scene. I've learned so much by reading your NF PBs. Thanks!

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    1. I'm glad I could send a reminder today about scenes and summary. And thanks for the nice words about my pbs.

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  30. Candace, Despite my contempt for Lindbergh, I was compelled to read your book. I was drawn in and read it to the bitter end. I still have nothing but contempt for him! Thanks for this post, I will attempt the activity.

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    1. I wanted readers to consider who Lindbergh was, and whether he deserves to be elevated or lowered in the eyes of history. Biographies aren’t written just to elevate the lives of people we admire. They’re also meant to tell us what happened – honestly and fully. They’re meant to show how people from history fit into our times. And Lindbergh certainly fits into our times. It was current events that compelled me to write this book. Echoes of his past had become part of my daily present –political rallies seething with rage, attacks on the press, xenophobia, racism, America First. Sounds familiar, huh? Anyway, I'm glad you've drawn your own conclusions. And I'm glad you were compelled to read to the end. Hope the activity goes well.

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  31. Those are great pointers! Thank you for your post, and for your wealth of fantastic mentor texts!

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  32. Thank you, Candace! Your post is very meaningful and helpful for me. Now, it's time to make a scene with my ms!

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  33. Scenes! Great advise. Thank you Candace.

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  34. Thanks! I love the tip that something must be different from the beginning of a scene to it's end, that there has to be a change. I'll have to keep this in mind.

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    1. Yep, the change is often the part we forget when writing scenes. It's not enough to get up close and look around. Readers need to be looking at something happening in that space and time. Change.

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  35. I just read Cubs in the Tub yesterday and loved it! The scene you posted above from the book brought me to tears when I read it yesterday and again today. Such a strong scene - I felt like I was there with her when it happened. Thank you for this detailed and helpful post. My favorite piece of advice is: "The best narrative nonfiction is a mix of scene and summary". I'm going to go back over my current manuscript to make sure I'm following your guide from above. Thank you for your advice and for the generous prize you are offering.

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    1. Thanks for the sweet comment about Cubs. That's actually a perfect text to identify scene and summary. If you have time, give it a try, and let me know how it goes.

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  36. Candy, thanks for your making a scene of scene. It was very clear and concise which makes for a great handout. It's a great reminder for any stage of the process. I hope I win the manuscript critique! My writing has changed so much since you looked at Lester and the Yarn back at Chautauqua.

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    1. Hi, Diane: Well, you don't have to win the critique to get in touch with me. We're old friends. No... wait... revision: We're long-time friends.

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  37. I had the pleasure of meeting Candace in a summer WOW writing retreat. I still have the notes that echo what she said in this post. Each of her books is a masterpiece. This is a wonderful post and suggested follow-ups should be enlightening.

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    1. Sherri, good to hear from you! It's always good to know I said something memorable. I'm not always sure that's the case. Hope you're well!

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  38. Very timely and helpful. I've been playing with my nonfiction PB, moving spreads around, to tell the story. Excited to look for and play with the three types of scenes. Thank you!

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    1. Sounds like you're on you way, Melissa. Have fun playing with those scenes.

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  39. This is SO incredibly helpful for this newbie author!! Ready to look at my WIP with new eyes!

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  40. Congratulations on your award. I love your Honeybee book and it sits on my bookshelf. Thanks for sharing your tips on setting scenes.

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    1. Thanks for the congrats, Laurie. Honeybee was a joy to work on.

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  41. Very helpful information and something I can use to work through my manuscript. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad you find it useful. Good luck with your ms.

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  42. Wonderful information, Candace! I always learn so much from you. Thank you.

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    1. Hi, Rose, good to hear from you. Hope you're well and writing up a storm.

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  43. I have now gone back and read three of my favorite non-fictions and looked for the scene settings. It is all very cinematic in that the author gets you to focus on one detail/person/event to catch your interest.

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    1. Right! And it's not only written to catch the reader's interest, but to move the story forward to the next scene and ultimately the end of the book. Notice how the moments the authors chose to craft into scenes are vital to the story. The author doesn't craft scenes about moments when nothing happens. For example, they don't craft a scene of, say, Eleanor Roosevelt in her bathtub unless something necessary to the story happened there. So the moments are chose for story pace, not just for attention grabbing. Of course, it does that too. Scenes are "showing." They make the story come alive.

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  44. Honeybee made me cry. The moment I read the line about spending her life to create a teaspoon of honey, I had to find the kleenex. I recall taking two (maybe three, LOL) NF workshops with you, one when you showed us excerpts of Cubs, and one with examples from Giant Squid. Both soo good! But Honeybee, and its gatefold, left me speechless. Thanks for sharing how you approach craft in such a detailed and helpful way.

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    1. Jiliane, it's good to hear form you. And thanks for the kind words. Is it okay to say I'm glad I made you cry? XX!

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  45. I took an online workshop with you a few years ago. I've tried to follow your "scenes" guidelines, not as easy as I thought it would be:) Your book about the Romanovs is probably my favorite. It lays out the story (in scenes?) that makes the completed Russian history very understandable.

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    1. Hi, Diane -- Yep, scenes do require a bit of practice. But you'll quickly get the hang of them. If you think about it, we all tell stories in scenes. Think about the last time you relayed some experience you had to a friend. You probably started by telling them where you where when the event happened, and what kind of day it was, and maybe how you were feeling. See? Scenes are part of our everyday life. And thanks for the kind words about those Russians. Without scenes, I could never have explained to teen readers about a world that's probably as unknown to them as the surface of mars. Summary (telling and explaining) simply would not have been enough. I needed to "show" that world so kids could really see, hear, smell, touch it.

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  46. Great post. I like how you broke it down using clear examples.

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  48. Wonderful, wonderful! I’m learning there is much in picture book writing that *feels* intuitive but I don’t always quite know how to execute it correctly without experts detailing the specifics. So thank you so much, Candace! This is great. Very helpful for my manuscript.

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    1. Scenes are intuitive. Think how much scene-telling you do every day. I don't mean when writing, but when talking with friends or family. How you relay experiences is probably in scenes.

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  49. I appreciate your specific instruction, Candace, for use across book categories. Thank you! I'm looking forward to using this info and reading more of your work.

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    1. I'm glad you noticed I used several different genres. Narrative nonfiction should be used in all. Good luck, and happy writing!

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  50. This is going to be so helpful as I move forward on my NF WIP. Thank you, Candace, for clarifying scenes and breaking them down into categories.

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  51. Candace, you always deliver so much insight, detail, and instruction to make NF sing. I've got copious notes to study and refer to as I write my way along my creative journey--thank you!!

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    1. Oh, Charlotte, it's always good to hear from you. Glad to know you're writing like the wind these days. And you know what I'm going to say... don't forget to write in scenes!

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  52. Thank you Candace for sharing this information about scenes. I am also fairly new to non fiction and so admire your work. You are an amazing non fiction author and mentor. Will you be doing any workshops again? Is there somewhere I can follow when you open a workshop up again? I noted you cancelled one that would have happened in CA. How would scenes and summary be identified in a "quiet" nature picture book? Thank you again! Marianne

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    1. Hi, Marianne: I'm hoping to be doing some online nf workshops very soon. And I'll be sure to let the n/f fest know about them. As to your question, scenes and summary don't have to be loud. (See the scene above from Cubs in the Tub) A change can be as simple and quiet as sun to rain, or bud to bloom. The idea is to come in close and show a moment using all the sensory detail possible. Take your reader into that moment. Immerse her in it. And as soon as the change occurs, move to the next scene (or summary if you need some explanation). I hope that helps.

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  53. Thanks for this detailed explanation of scenes and summary. I will analyze my PB bios using this method!

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    1. I'd love to know what you discover about them, Lynn.

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  54. Thanks for that clear and illuminating explanation of writing in scenes, as well as the examples of when it's okay to "tell" instead of "show." I read HONEYBEE recently and was wowed by the way you injected high drama into the subject. My main regret was that I had to return it to the library (due to others waiting for the book) before I had an opportunity to read it to some kiddos.

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    1. That high drama (thanks so muuch for noticing it) comes from the use of scenes. Happy writing, Elia!

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  55. WOW I took more notes here than any other post so far. Thanks so much!

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  56. Fantastic examples on the importance of scene....often a character unto itself!

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  57. Fantastic article! Thank you! And just wanted to say my daughter and I both love Honeybee!

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    1. Oh, I'm "buzzing" with happiness that you liked HB!

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  58. Thanks for the concise advice. Maybe next-time you'll post on how you manage to get all that thorough research done in such a short time. I have so many ideas I'm passionate about, but I don't want to rush any of the research. Such slow going for me.

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    1. Hi, Joanne: My research process is never short. I spent three years investigating Charles Lindbergh's life; four years with the Romanovs; two years with Howard Carter (not counting a trip to Egypt). Rich scenes can't be written without rich material, and that requires time and detective work. That's precisely why I have more than one project going at a time. Right now I'm finishing up a YA nonfiction project about the Leopold and Loeb murder, but I'm already shoulders-deep in research for the next middle grade book. Is it any wonder my office is awash in papers?

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  59. This was eye-opening info for me. So much so that I've bookmarked the post to come back to. Thanks, Candace!

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  60. Really loved your post, Candace: so clear,useful and interesante. Will go back and check my manuscripts. And I want to try more nonfiction! Inspiring!

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    1. I love that you're going to look at your own manuscripts. That's a great extension of the activity.

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  61. Thank you Candace! I appreciate the step by step walk-though of different scenes.

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  62. This is a GREAT post, Candace. Thanks for sharing this interesting approach to scene!

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  63. I'm glad you found it interesting,Jean. Happy writing!

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  64. What a fantastic post! I’m new to children’s books and have a couple of nonfiction ideas in my head that I need to get down and this is so helpful! Thank you so much! You have such a wealth of nonfiction titles for us to study and I’m grateful for you sharing your knowledge. And Honeybee - wow! My grandfather was a beekeeper. I loved it!

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    1. Welcome to it he kid book community, Amy! Glad I could help, and thanks for the shout out about HB!

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  65. Thank you for a wonderful post. Will be so helpful in revision.

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  66. This was soo incredibly helpful. Thank you! I will make sure to put this information to good use while I write. :)

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  67. I am revising a first draft now and your post was so timely, informative and wise! Thank you! I am going to read Honeybee as a mentor text to help me more deeply understand this post! Thank you!

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  68. I'll be checking all of my manuscripts for scenes! Thanks for providing all of the examples.

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    1. Yep, that’s exactly what I’m doing this week with a YA n/f manuscript— making sure all those crucial moments in the story are scenes. And rewriting lots of summary. Mine tends to be so DULL the first time around.

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  69. A scene's 3 basic elements... amazing! This is so helpful, thank you for explaining this so beautifully!

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    1. It's certainly simple, right? Hopefully, easy to understand, too.

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  70. Candace, your books are mentor texts to me, thank you! And thank you for the helpful post :)

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  71. As always, you've taught us a masterclass in one short post! I appreciate seeing the importance of the summary sections, and the balance between scenes and summaries. Most of all, I appreciate the reminder of what a scene must do: move the story forward, come in close, be active, and of course be accurate. Thanks, Candy!

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    1. A reminder is always good, isn't it? In fact, I reminded myself while writing that post. Today, I comb through my huge ms (YA) making sure I created scenes from all the important moments, and checking to make sure my summary is pithy and interesting.

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  72. I love that you distilled the concept of a theme down to three basic items: a specific time, a specific place, and one change. I can wrap my head around that!

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    1. Yep, pretty distilled. Scene's really are easier than we make them, I think.

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  73. What wonderful examples! Thanks so much for this post. I have enjoyed all of your books that I've read. I'm looking forward to the new one.

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    1. Glad you've enjoyed them, Rosi. Thanks for the kind words.

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  74. Hello, I will revisit this posting's Activity to identify the scenes in a NF narrative nonfiction, which I've yet to select. The information, though, helps me to consider how I should keep my focus on how things are connected in writing: summary connects the scenes, etc. Thanks for an informative posting! I chose the activity from the calendar to locate two events that happened on the day I was born. Well, the first aircraft carrier, the Oriskany 34, sailed around Cape Horn, and Judy Garland was the second woman to be honored with a testimonial by the Frias Club where she sung the song, "Over the Rainbow", one of my absolute favorite songs!

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    1. Yup, everything in a book is connected -- theme, scene, summary, word choice, the beginning holding hands with the end.

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  75. Your description of scenes will be very helpful in revising my picture book. I will try to make each scene tighter based on your suggestions.

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  76. I love how you have broken this down in a very approachable way. What a wonderful and useful post I will be returning to again and again! Thank you.

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    1. Good to know I can help in some small way, Mary.

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  77. This is the best description of scene I've ever read. Thanks you so much!

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  78. Thank you, Candace, for this information. I just created a book dummy of a WIP and now I can use your tips about scenes and summaries to find the weak spots. Ahhhh.... I feel so much better about revisions now.

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    1. Brilliant, Krissy. Don't forget to share with us what you discovered. We can all learn from your experience.

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  79. This post is filled with outstanding information, Candy.

    Thank you for the specific explanation and examples for scene and summary.

    Suzy Leopold

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    1. Suzy! How are you my long lost friend? Hope the writing is going well and your safe, sane and happy. Sending hugs!

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  80. Thank you for explaining the importance of setting the scenes and using the summaries to help with transition and other elements. Your examples make it clear and easy for us to understand and I am now enjoying the exercise of finding these in your books and in other great nonfiction stories. Wonderful lesson!

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    1. I can't wait to hear what you learn in through that exercise, Peggy!

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  81. So helpful, Candace. I hadn't thought of change in a specific scene with so much intent before, and how that adds to the drama and tension. Thanks for the very helpful tips!

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    1. Hi, Maria, good to hear from you. Glad I could remind you of that change in a scene.

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  82. Really inspired by your commitment to storytelling techniques and page turns. As a former newspaper journalist, it's been a complete shift in my way of thinking. But you are so right! The tension makes it all the better.

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    1. Yep, we n/f writers need to pull out our fiction writer toolbox every time we craft an n/f story.

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  83. Thank you for this excellent explanation of scenes and summaries. Great examples!

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  84. Man, now I really wish I hadn't missed the NF Beachside Retreat! But Candace, I truly appreciate your primer on scenes, thank you. You already know I adore HONEYBEE and I can't wait to apply your exercise to it and a few other favorite NFs to see what/how they accomplished this element. What a great post and spectacular prize. Thanks again.

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    1. Beachside Retreat in 2022-- it's going to be great!

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  85. Brilliant! The one change rule makes so much sense and it's something I had not heard of before. Thank you for sharing this tip. PS- I have heard so many great things about Honeybee! I can't wait to read it!

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  86. Such a concise and actionable way to think of scene vs summary. Thank you!

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  87. Thank you, Candice for this great post...especially validating the need for some summary points to help move a story along...

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    1. All narrative n/f uses summary. It's not a bad thing. It's a great thing as long as it's used sparingly and written compellingly. Scenes, however, should be the first focus. And, of course, you can always drop context (summary) into a scene. That's a great way to "hide" pure expository.

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  88. Thank you for this wonderful deep-dive into the building blocks of nonfiction writing!

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  89. Thanks, Candace, for this helpful post with excellent examples!

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  90. I had to print out this gem of advice and apply immediately to my revision. I love Apis but I love Squid even more. Your reply a ways above here in comments would make for a great logo for shirts, mugs, posters...
    IT'S ALWAYS TIME TO MAKE A SCENE

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  91. This is so concise and helpful! I made copious notes! Thank you so much for this post!

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  92. Wow! You gave me a lot of great info about scene and summary I hadn't thought about before. Thank you for sharing, Candace!

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  93. Candace Flemming this is great and very helpful. Thank you for digging into your treasure trove of tips! I will refer to this post often. Your books are lovely and I look forward to sharing them with my grands. Many thanks!

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  94. Your examples were so great, Deb! It's wonderful to be able to analyze and name these elements in our own writing. Extremely helpful.

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  95. This is a very thought-provoking post - thank you.

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  96. Candace, thank you for sharing how summaries help move readers from one scene to the next!

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