How to Write Proactive Scenes (with examples)

  • Published on Aug 15, 2018
  • Strong proactive scenes are an important element of an engaging novel. This video is mostly about demonstrating how proactive scenes play out in published novels. For more information about the details of how to write proactive scenes, check out my previous video series:
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Comments • 57

  • TunezCottage
    TunezCottage 20 days ago

    I felt like how when Harry Potter changed goals, that was him being reactive not proactive. Maybe I just fail to see how they differ in that situation.

  • naterudolph
    naterudolph Month ago

    The Thing About Jellyfish is awfully ambitious to write in second person. I've never seen that in a novel with the rare exception of the narrator making asides to the reader.

  • Minty_Gacha
    Minty_Gacha 2 months ago

    What app should I use to make a book cover? ( I am an iPad writer, wanting to start )

    • Minty_Gacha
      Minty_Gacha 2 months ago

      Ingrid Rosenmeier I have PicsArt. I’m a gacha creator

    • Ingrid Rosenmeier
      Ingrid Rosenmeier 2 months ago

      I recommend an app called Picsart, it's free, and has infinite possibilities!

  • Holla atcha Boy
    Holla atcha Boy 2 months ago

    Hey Ellen (HMU)....I love your enthusiasm...maybe we could work together 🤷🏾‍♂️

  • Mac Bizzo
    Mac Bizzo 5 months ago

    What was her point to use the word "Dog" twice in less than 5 words?

  • miku hatsune
    miku hatsune 9 months ago

    creating a sense of conflict greatly differs from creating a proactive scene. In most of the scenes you mentioned, the protagonist is faced with some sort of problem and whatever he/she does next is merely a reaction to that problem, hence the proactivity aspect is absent.

  • Livaiduis
    Livaiduis 9 months ago

    Ellen, Every video i've watched from you has been helpfull, and some have lead me to a near Epiphany .the complex layers about the storywritting-telling is a sublime piece of psychological artwork. and you make it all seem to go so naturally. so , almost easy. . the thoughtproscesses you delve into are so filled with much subliemer information... DAMN! from now on i'm watching your videos on 0.75 speed. my brain needs time to cope with the speed of your train of thought (don't get me wrong , you speak with a perfectly clear intonation , and that intonation really captivates what your saying in my perspective, however my mind requires time to truly connect all the dots of all the truthfull 'crazy shit ' you're saying) You have my gratitude, my respect and ma love. I wish to you a life where you are free to work on your passions of life!!

  • Write Heroes
    Write Heroes 10 months ago

    Proactive characters has always been a strength for me. Looking forward to reactive tho.

  • Exploring Stories
    Exploring Stories 10 months ago +2

    Unlike Story Structure, I had always found Scene Structure more intuitive and obvious. Learning about it feels more enlightening than I expected. It give me words for what I already understood.

  • Eduardo Garin
    Eduardo Garin 10 months ago +1

    Great video. I wonder if you can just enjoy reading a novel or you get distracted by errors you see as an editor. Anyway, I'm finding a new fascinating way to read books. Thanks for the content

    • Exploring Stories
      Exploring Stories 10 months ago

      Eduardo Garin I’d assume it’s the same as it is for writers. E.g., “was /that/ supposed to be a midpoint? *sigh* Plebeians.”

  • Divine Fye
    Divine Fye 10 months ago

    L❤️ve her!

  • Jenajena Nanou
    Jenajena Nanou 10 months ago +1

    Thank you very much, your channel help me a lot! 😊

  • Inserat the band
    Inserat the band 10 months ago +1

    No dislikes. Because, how could you?

  • Alison F. Haring
    Alison F. Haring 10 months ago +3

    I love your videos so much!!! This was awesome and all those examples are perfect, thank you!

  • OnionEyes
    OnionEyes 10 months ago

    Can you make a video about techniques to raise stakes & a video about how scene goal and scene purpose connect?

  • kbear
    kbear 10 months ago +1

    Can you please make a video on how to write a betrayal that hits the reader in the feels? Please? I really need help. Awesome video as always!

    • kbear
      kbear 9 months ago +1

      @Thea The Genius wow thank you so much!

    • kbear
      kbear 9 months ago

      @Write Heroes awesome thanks!

    • Thea The Genius
      Thea The Genius 10 months ago

      kbear Build it up. Develop the betrayer first, and his/her relationship with your character. Make him a dear friend, a mother/father figure, a lover. Make their scenes with your character lovable, make the reader really feel it. IMO, this is done best through strong interactive scenes, chiefly dialogue, which you should work on to the best of your ability. Though it might sound weird, when you're writing dialogue, say it out loud; I'm not kidding. Have the convo your characters are having, with yourself. If you can sense the flow of the convo, if it seems natural and has the right emotions behind it, then congrats, you've just written something your reader will feel too, and the betrayal will hit them like a train in the face when it comes. To quote Robert Frost; "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader."
      If you feel it, then others will too.

    • Write Heroes
      Write Heroes 10 months ago

      kbear Make the betrayer someone trusted. Like the old guy does to Tom cruise in Minority Report.

  • CRL73hippo
    CRL73hippo 10 months ago


  • Quahntasy - Animating Universe

    Loved this video. Came about just in time I got stuck.

  • Rian An
    Rian An 10 months ago

    Can you make video about Japanese light novel and how to start it?

  • Cool Guy
    Cool Guy 10 months ago +9

    Hey Ellen, I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your videos and they're incredibly helpful. I'm not even a book author, but a lot of your tips have universal story telling appeal. I, for example, use quite a few of your tips for the tabletop RPGs that I run. They're very helpful for thinking about the beats I want to invoke in a scene, how to play out and describe NPCs, and the overall potential storyarcs the players will stumble towards. I just wanted to thank you for the help you give out freely.

    • Ellen Brock
      Ellen Brock  10 months ago

      Very cool! I want to try D&D but I've been a bit daunted to learn it. I don't know anyone who knows how to DM. I'm hoping to try soon. I'm so glad the videos help!

    • Cool Guy
      Cool Guy 10 months ago

      I played a lot of Ryuutama, Monsters and other childish things, and Dungeons and Dragons (2e and 5e) in college. But now I mostly dm d&d because it's what my friends where I live like to play. I've always wanted to play Paranoia, it sounds so interesting. Oh I've also played some Gurps, but I've never run it (it seems like kind of headache to set up). I've always really enjoyed RPGs, it's such an interesting blend of storytelling, gaming, and fun. But again, thank you, you're tips on story telling and how to make interesting and believable characters and scenes has had an impact on my games.

    • Ellen Brock
      Ellen Brock  10 months ago +3

      That's awesome! I'm glad the videos help! What do you play? I play Call of Cthulhu all the time! I've also played Inspectres several times, Paranoia once, and I'm going to be playing Kids on Bikes soon.

  • Andreu Tormos
    Andreu Tormos 10 months ago +10

    I like how in this boot camp series you are using lots of book examples :)

  • you're right
    you're right 10 months ago +3

    Found you a few days ago, immediately subscribed, now binge watching all your videos. Thank you so so much for helping us!

  • Ai CopyCat
    Ai CopyCat 10 months ago

    Get a better sound quality.

  • yapdog
    yapdog 10 months ago

    The morning brightens when your snapshot appears, EB :^) Thank you once again for the helpful information!

  • Gearoid OConnor
    Gearoid OConnor 10 months ago

    Great advice as always keep up the good work.

  • Juan A. Santiago Class
    Juan A. Santiago Class 10 months ago

    thank you so much, your videos have really help a lot with something that I am working on...

  • Timo's Archive Extra
    Timo's Archive Extra 10 months ago

    Watching more of these

  • A. Connor Parr
    A. Connor Parr 10 months ago +3

    Many of the scenes in the fantasy I am writing are conversational proactive/reactive scenes, so these next two videos should be extremely helpful for me! I'm just a bit sad that you'll be leaving us again at the end of August...

    • A. Connor Parr
      A. Connor Parr 10 months ago

      Thank you!

    • Exploring Stories
      Exploring Stories 10 months ago +2

      A. Connor Parr Wise woman. Thanks a bunch! Good luck on you WIP.

    • A. Connor Parr
      A. Connor Parr 10 months ago +1

      I've been back and forth between home-school and public school since 6th-grade, and I do know that I won't have much free time after high school...that's something my mother will never let me forget.
      I decided I would watch a few of the videos on your channel and have subscribed. Great content!

    • Exploring Stories
      Exploring Stories 10 months ago +2

      A. Connor Parr Huh, really? I was home-schooled my whole life until the past couple years I’ve been in college, and I’m a Christian to boot. I got the majority of WIP done during the last two of High School. After High School... free time hates you.

    • A. Connor Parr
      A. Connor Parr 10 months ago +2

      Well, I am still a high-school student--and home-schooled--so time is easier for me to come across. I still have to budget my time between school, moving, and composing music for my church's animation TheXvid channel, but since I'm an early riser I am guaranteed at least an hour of distraction-free writing time every morning before the family wakes up and I have to start on breakfast. I also like to write for about thirty minutes to an hour after I have lunch.
      A lot of the curriculum that I am taking revolves around essay-writing, so I have learned to improve my writing and editing efficiently because of that.

  • DeLyse on Duty
    DeLyse on Duty 10 months ago +50

    "You don't need to directly tell the reader what the character's goal is, because often the context can make it clear enough" - this. This just opened my eyes. I have been stuck at the beginning of a new chapter for days, and I believe this one line is about to help me get un-stuck. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart!!!
    Also, the examples you have been giving help tremendously. I feel like you're using the "show don't tell" approach - the examples in books are showing how this or that is used, instead of just telling how it's used. I cannot state enough how much that helps me and my writing grow. I think it will help so many others, as well. Thank you so much again!

  • Dylan Fallon
    Dylan Fallon 10 months ago +48


  • Riga Satria
    Riga Satria 10 months ago +1

    Thank u so much miss allen?

  • Kristoffer
    Kristoffer 10 months ago +31

    Sadness is when you realize that by the end of August, Ellen will disappear again...

  • Creator's Remorse
    Creator's Remorse 10 months ago +6

    I'm so glad you're back!

  • Ellen Brock
    Ellen Brock  10 months ago

    This video is mostly about demonstrating how proactive scenes play out in published novels. For more specific information about proactive scene structure, check out my video series on scenes:

  • Manav Singh
    Manav Singh 10 months ago +14

    Have you read all the books behind you?
    What's the total number of books in your library?