Even when I am in the midst of putting together a novel, I will still read through some of my writing books to remind me of some of the tricks of the trade. I am usually someone who likes to just write without thinking much into it, but I’ve gotten a bit more focused in my old age (which would be 29).
One of my favorites in my writing book library is the Novelist’s Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes by Raymond Obstfeld. He makes it clear that you have to be aware of what types of scenes you are writing, what the goal of each scene is, and what emotion the scene conveys.
I think that if you write for long enough, you start to get a feel for this. You start to figure out that you can’t have a scene describing a forest for six pages; you will lose your reader. Likwise, you cannot have several short, action packed scenes in a row with no break. Personally, I’ll put the book down and be afraid to pick it back up again, even if I want to. I love the anime DeathNote, but it became very intense very quickly for me, and I haven’t gotten past the sixth episode yet.
In BLAQUE, the scenes have to switch up naturally because my point of view character tends to remove herself from scenes if things get to be too much for her. The character’s very personality makes the scenes switch gears. She gets upset over an argument, then she leaves the argument. If she is stuck there, it ups the emotion. If she leaves the situation, then it will defuse the scene or kill it completely. When I want the scene to get more intense, I prevent her from leaving. She has no choice but to face the situation.
Knowing your characters definitely helps with realizing when to raise stakes and when to lower them. Your scenes are how you achieve this. Listen to the natural ebb and flow of the characters. The well-crafted ones will naturally ignite and extinguish scenes. They will know when to give valuable information and when to keep quiet for a bit longer. They will know when they are bored, and they will do something to entertain themselves.
Well developed characters and plot will naturally switch up the scenes and keep the reader (and you) guessing. Don’t afraid to trap them in a corner every now and then, though!