How to get a book to engage the reader

How to get a book to engage the reader

It is obvious to point out that, in a novel, not all scenes are the same. However, not everyone who sets out to write a story is clear about this principle. Depending on what happens in it, a scene can be described as action, reaction or setting. Identifying the different types of these will allow the writer to achieve two objectives: to improve the structure of the story and to handle the narrative tension of the story with greater ease and precision. 

According to this, there are different types of scenes:

Action scenes

It is better not to make a mistake. An action scene does not necessarily have to include fights, explosions or similar. An action scene refers to a passage in the novel in which something happens. Or, if you prefer, it is a type of scene in which the protagonist does something to achieve something.

An example of an action scene is when the detective interrogates the suspect. In this type of scene we find a character performing an action with the intention of achieving a purpose.

The greatest number of scenes included in a novel have to be of this style. If this happens, the plot will advance and the reader will be hooked to the story. However, if all the scenes in the plot were action scenes, we would not give the story any respite and the reading could become exhausting. To avoid this, we can resort to other types of scenes, such as reaction scenes or scenes of ambience.

Reaction scenes

A reaction scene is identified as the one in which the protagonist of the story reacts to something that has happened. It is the moment to show the reader how the character feels and behaves before a certain circumstance.

Sometimes it is possible to find reaction scenes whose outcome is a twist. That is, at the end of the scene, something happens that causes the character to receive a push towards the next scene… which, normally, will be an action scene.

An action scene serves the author to slow down the plot, allowing both the reader and the protagonist to breathe. The secret to their use is to use them sparingly and intelligently. If reaction scenes are abused, the plot will end up being boring.

Setting scenes

Finally, we can find, to a lesser extent, scenes of ambience. These are scenes in which a problem unrelated to the main plot is solved or information is provided about the world in which the story takes place. In these scenes nothing relevant to the plot occurs (at least in appearance), although they help to better develop the character and his world.

This type of scenes should be used even more sparingly than the previous ones, since they do not slow down the pace of the plot, but stop it completely. It can be an interesting resource in some cases, but it is necessary to analyze well if it is interesting to use it. If not, you can always introduce the setting as small brushstrokes within an action scene or a reaction scene.

So when you review the structure of your novel, analyze scene by scene and make sure that the narrative tension maintains a good balance between action, reaction and setting. Remember: there should be a dominance of action and short pauses or breaths in which the characters react. Occasionally, if necessary, you can include a scene of ambience.