How to Write Reactive Scenes [Novel Boot Camp #14]

Reactive scenes are scenes in which the character reacts emotionally and mentally to what occurred in the previous proactive scene. In this video I discuss how to create reactive scenes that keep the plot moving forward and hold the reader’s interest.


Video Highlights

  • Reactive scenes do not have to occur after every proactive scene, but if you wait too long between reactive scenes, the pacing can feel too fast or frantic.
  • The first part of the reactive scene is to identify and demonstrate the character’s emotional reaction to the proactive scene.
  • The second part is to identify the dilemma or problem the character is facing. What do they need to decide or fix and why?
  • The third part is to have the character come to a conclusion about how they will act. It is this conclusion that prevents the scene from feeling irrelevant.

Questions to Ask About Your Novel

Look at a few reactive scenes in your novel. Are all three parts present?

Does your character identify the problem, try to solve it, and then come to a conclusion? If you find you have emotional or reactive scenes during which the character does not come to any conclusion, these scenes are most likely slow or uninteresting to the reader. They might also make the character seem mopey or overly emotional. Including the three elements of reactive scenes prevents your novel from dragging or losing momentum.

If you have any questions about reactive scenes, please post them in the comments.

The Q&A session submission form is open! Please submit your questions for the Q&A session next week!

Workshop #2 peer critiques have been posted. Please don’t forget to critique at least five submissions!

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2 thoughts on “How to Write Reactive Scenes [Novel Boot Camp #14]

  1. Nicole L Ochoa says:

    One of the main feelings all of my critiques expressed was that my story moved forward too quickly, without giving the reader time to connect with the main character. There were many times when my readers wanted to know how certain scenes affected Sarah or how she thought about a certain experience. The problem was that my novel was sorely lacking in reactive scenes, this segment couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time in my writing. Thank you.

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