Thompson On…Scene Construction: The Difference Maker in a Successful Novel!

creative_writing[1]Novels are driven by incredible scene construction!
How a writer handles scenes will make a difference between a manuscript that sells, and one that ends up in the slush pile or the author receiving a rejection letter via email or in the mail.
A scene is a unit of drama in a novel.
The concept of a scene in fiction comes from theater, where it describes the action that takes place in a single setting.
The scene as we know it in modern genre fiction is heavily influenced by Hollywood. Life in the 21st century genre novel is a series of quick, dramatic flashes.
When you flesh out a scene, you must either create a show scene or a tell scene to advance your storyline. This will affect your pacing. You can speed up with tell scenes and slow down with show scenes.
When I was writing A Brownstone in Brooklyn, there was a big show scene-sequence in the afternoon, with the evening uneventful and nothing happening—a prelude—to the riots in Brooklyn that rocked the borough.
The next day the riots started!
How I handled this sequence was to create tremendous show scenes for the day before the riots, then tell scenes in the evening, but the next day I was creating show scenes with specific sensory details.
Now, the reader was in the moment and experiences the riots as the flames ate away at the buildings on Nostrand Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. They smelled the acrid smoke and saw the building crumble.
If I had created show scenes for the evening before the riot, then I would be overwriting and slowed the novel down and the pacing would have been off mark.
When you create scenes with great show/don’t tell scenes you want to do six things:
A. Possible Scene Format:
a. Scene One: Show Scene
b. Scene Two: Transition/Tell Scene
c. Scene Three: Show Scene
B. A scene has the following three-part pattern: Goal, Conflict and Disaster.
Goal: Your goal is to convincingly show your POV (Point OF View) Character experiencing the scene. (For Example, in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, you are standing next to Atticus Finch as Tom Ewell spits in his face. You experience the spit dripping down Finch’s face)
As you construct scenes, you must do this so powerfully that your reader experiences the scene as if he/she were the POV Character. Your reader will identify with the character.
Conflict: is the obstacles your POV character faces on the way to reaching his goal.
Disaster: is a failure to let your POV character reach his goal. Don’t give him the goal without any conflict. Do Not Make It Easy!
C. A scene has three other important elements.
External Motivation: The objective can be in this paragraph. It does not need to be complicated.
Internal Motivation: Internal scream: Present it exactly as your POV character experiences it. This is your chance to make your reader be your POV character. (The character must have either an external or internal motivation—the reader must know why a character reacted a certain way.)
Reflex Reaction: It’s instinctive. You will react rationally: to act, to think, to speak. You must present the full complexity of your character’s reactions in this order.
For Example
EM: The man in black sprinted toward John flashing a switchblade.
IR: John turned and a bolt of raw adrenalin shot through his veins.
RR: John pulled a gun out of his shoulder holster, sighted on the man’s chest, and squeezed the trigger, “You’re dead!”
Key: You can’t afford to write one scene, but you must write another scene, and another and another, etc. You will probably have to create hundreds of scenes before your book is complete.
(As a quick creative writing exercise–continue this scene)
AM (Another Motivation):
I’m very interested in reading your continuation of this scene. What is John’s next experience? Be specific—the reader must experience and become part of the John’s reaction as he faces a man lunging at him with a switchblade!
Please leave a comment and visit my website for more helpful hints!


What kind of writer are you…your writing Style!

J. E. Thompson Speaking at Decatur Book Festival!
J. E. Thompson Speaking at Decatur Book Festival!
What kind of writer are you…your writing style?
If you are sensitive to critics’ comments, the writing “Rules Police”, experts discussing this issue, with such aplomb that they intimidate, then you must turn a deaf ear to this shrill commentary that says: You must write in a certain style in order to be considered a worthy author.
Your writing is created out of your personality. You must reach deep inside your creative self to find how you will put words on paper.
For me, I’m a “Conversational” writer…what does that mean? I write, as if, I’m having a wonderful conversation, over a glass of wine, with the reader. I’m telling a story and I want to capture the reader’s attention, not with long flowery descriptions, but with simple sentences that build incredible word pictures using active verbs and creative adjectives.
A good example is from my first novel, A Brownstone in Brooklyn,
I wanted to describe how a person’s dreams may be answered, but dreams are fleeting and will come and go with the blink of an eye. They never last and I want the reader to understand if you don’t change you will live in the past looking to keep trying to capture that same dream over and over again:
“The most special times in a person’s life are not meant to last forever. They’re like bubbles rising from a plastic ring dipped into a soapy solution. The soap bubbles rise, with the sun flashing brilliant colors, then bursts into a showery memory mist.”
― J.E. Thompson, A Brownstone in Brooklyn
I wanted to create word pictures that captured this feeling of a fleeting moment in time.
When watching the Miss Marple TV series on PBS, based on Agatha Christie’s books. One episode was based on In Bertram’s Hotel, and Christie said, “the essence of life is change and we have too adjust and change.”

I wanted to create this moment in my book, with my writing style, as Agatha Christie created with her style in her novel.
For example, I love the sixties, but I can’t live in the sixties, but I must adjust to the music and the moments of the 21st Century.
I remembered the moment that changed a nation. Where I was when it was announced that Kennedy had been shot? I was in gym class at Bushwick High School in Brooklyn, New York on a cool November Day in 1962. It is still fresh in my mind the moment my gym teacher, Coach Diamond, told us the news of Kennedy being shot.
We were stunned. Some of us cried.
Now I must live in the rhythm of the 21st century with Hip Hop, Rap the threat of ISIS terrorism and other dominate themes must be lived through if you want to remain relevant in this present age.
My writing has always been crisp, with short sentence like F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby), Ernest Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea), Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes were Watching God) and Walter Mosley (Devil In A Blue Dress).
My style is not like Tony Morrison, William Faulkner and other authors that are expert in the long complex sentences. That’s their style.
Authors must find their style with experimentation in different writing styles.
I believe what Polonius said to Hamlet, “To Thine own self be true”
Be true to yourself as you write and experiment.
Don’t imitate, but create your own unique writing style.
Do not ever listen to the “Rules Police.”
I wish you much success in finding your writing style and that will help you write fantastic novels.
Happy Writing!

A Brownstone in Brooklyn Approach 15th Anniversary!

BrownstoneIn 1995, a long, long time ago when Star Wars was the latest cinema rage, I started to pen my first novel called A Brownstone in Brooklyn. I wanted to write a novel and see could I actually put together a storyline that would interest readers…I wanted just one story published and see it in book form.

Well, I worked long and hard with a few disturbing ups and downs, including bad agents and negative comments and thoughtless critical people trying to keep a wonderful theme and book buried in the files of unpublished books.

I labored.

I fought against the temptation of quitting.

I kept working and finally came up with a thesis or main idea for the book that was spawned out of my high school and early City College years in New York City: A Brownstone In Brooklyn chronicles the life-altering events that shape the future of Andy Michael Pilgrim, a young man growing up in the turbulent sixties.

Once I got the main idea, then it was many long nights writing. I remember one evening starting to write at 11:00 pm, I’m really a night writer, and working until 4:00 am. That would be good, but I’m a high school teacher and I had to be up at 5:30am and teach seventy juniors and senior high school English all day. That was a long, long day but I kept thinking about the 3,000 plus words I wrote and the wonderful character, Sister Love, that came into existence.

Tonight, I’m sitting at my typewriter on this rainy evening in Atlanta, Georgia, I mean computer (smile). I was using a typewriter in the early nineties, and thinking A Brownstone in Brooklyn will celebrate its’ 15th year of publication in late summer of 2016. That’s right, the book was published in 2001.

I started in 1995 and finished writing the book in late 1999. After editing and many disappoints, including finding a publisher, God Blessed me in 2001 to see the book in print. When the book arrived at my apartment, I ripped open the box and felt the smooth book cover and shed a tear.

One of the greatest thrills of my life was that my mother, Goldie Parks, read Brownstone and one of my greatest fans, Frances Grieff, an English teacher enjoyed my novels before leaving this earth.

I know I have two fans still pulling for me in heaven!

It’s been a long journey, but I’m still enthusiastic about writing and look forward writing many more novels.

Now, A Brownstone in Brooklyn, is on the shelves of Barnes & Nobles brick and mortar stores and on the shelves of public libraries from Chicago to Atlanta.

I want to share with you what has kept me going, from 1995 until today, as I pen my fifth novel, Stormy Winds:

“Keep Writing,

Keep Believing,

And never give up on your dreams!”

Happy Writing and God Bless you!

J. E. Thompson

Enjoy Philly Style and Philly Profile Amazon.Com Book Reviews!

This review is from: Philly Style And Philly Profile (Paperback)
This is the second of the Andy Pilgrim trilogy.While the title does not try to explain the book,that was the author`s intent.The title refers to something special specific to the city of Philadelphia only. You have to read the book very carefully to understand what Julius is trying to say. He is being pervasive on purpose. This second book leads into the final of the trilogy, “Ghost of Atlanta”

“Philly Style, Philly Profile” takes place in the 70’s.Andy, a black man, works for the Philly Bulletin.He is immediately confronted by one of the many problems that black men had to deal with then and now…RACISM.That`s just one central issue. Added, we find out that he is slated to cover high school sports and we are immediately introduced to 2 more very dangerous threats…DRUGS and GANGS.

Andy gets caught up deeply in this mix when he befriends Carl, an up and coming basketball player whose getting ready to go off to college in just a few days. I won`t spoil the story for you but I will say that it`s extremely fast paced and relevant for the times. Of course all cities big and small sadly still face these same issues.

You will read this and, once you do, you`ll want to continue the saga in “Ghost of Atlanta”.I would be remiss if I did not take a moment and mention the fantastic editing in this super story. I read this, looking for mistakes and I found very few. My hat`s off to Julius’ editor, Moneysaver Editing. Keep writing Julius, great job!

Philly Style
By Steven C. Thedford
Format: Paperback
Too often on the news we hear of African American males who have succumb to violence and drugs. After a while, we do not care why, we just hope and pray that we are not caught in the crossfire. However, in Philly Style and Philly Profile Thompson does not let us ignore them, as society would like to. Moreover, he introduces the reader to some of these young men and their fears, hopes, desires, and beliefs. Even though the story takes place in the seventies, Philly Style and Philly Profile occurs every night in America

Philly Style And Philly Profile
By Alberto Romero
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is another remarkable novel by Julius Thompson. In Philly Style and Philly Profile he takes the reader through the streets of the City of Brotherly Love and shows us, with engaging and touching down-to-earth prose, the good and evil, the hate and love in the lives of hostile and violent young people, some of whom are saved thanks to the constant help of dedicated community counselors. A troubled side of the great city of Philadelphia, portrayed vividly by a brilliant storyteller.

A. Romero
Snellville, GA

Enjoy A Brownstone In Brooklyn Amazon.Com Book Reviews!

BrownstoneI know Those People!!!

By J. Squires

The greatest compliment one can pay the author of his memoirs is: “I know those people! I really do!” While reading this novel, I feel privileged to sit at the table beside Andy (Mr. Julius Thompson) while his mama, Golda, dishes out a sumptuous ~ though modest ~ feast.

My hand is in Andy’s. My other hand is in Andy’s Step-father’s (Marvs) strong, black hand while, following his example, we bow our heads, and feel his love and his deep and unshakable faith as he leads us in grace. Mr. Julius Thompson takes us on a literary journey through the tempestuous sixties.

His main character, Andy Michael Pilgrim, has a dream ~ a dream in an environment and generation that could easily crush a less enduring black man’s dreams. With riots and death all around him, Andy persists in the pursuit of his dream. With the love of his life, Leslie, beside him, Golda’s love (leaning heavily on him, sometimes, as a mother’s love will tend to do), Marvs’ guidance and love giving him direction, and a whole wacky cast of lovable characters ~ his extended family ~ urging him on, Andy moves relentlessly forward, overcoming towering obstacles, until his dream is realized…
Yes, I know those people. I love those people. And, thanks to Julius Thompson and his book, “A Brownstone In Brooklyn,” you’ll find youself knowing and loving them, too.


By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
A Brownstone in Brooklyn chronicles a short but critical portion of the life of Andy Michael Pilgrim. Andy has grown up in a Brownstone on Gates Avenue in Brooklyn and all of its residents have contributed to his upbringing. However, this book takes place during a turbulent time in American history. The civil rights movement seems to be taking a more violent turn, and young men across the nation are being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War…
The lively cast of characters keep this novel fresh and entertaining while the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat. Thompson does a wonderful job highlighting how people’s lives are influenced by the types of choices they make. He also highlights how much one person’s actions can impact the lives of others in meaningful ways. The book started out a little slow, but gradually picked up momentum. I would have liked a bit more character development for Andy’s character earlier in the book. In the early parts of the book I felt like I was reading about his day to day life without enough background to really care about his character, but by the end I felt like I knew him well. A Brownstone in Brooklyn is an enjoyable read that truly demonstrates that it takes a village to raise a child.

A Sentimental History Lesson
By Amazon Customer
Format: Hardcover
In “A Brownstone In Brooklyn,” Mr. Julius Thompson paints a picture of life in Brooklyn during the turbulent 60’s. It’s the story of how good people can be oppressed and held down for so long that they must resort to “any means necessary” to overcome, and how one’s family is not always defined by a blood line. It’s also the story of how one such extended family bands together to raise an extraordinary young man, our main character, Andy Michael Pilgrim. Mr. Thompson shows us what life was like for a young man during the Vietnam War as the Civil Rights Movement took a sudden violent turn after the death of Dr. King, and how many young men, without the love given to Andy by his extended family, didn’t make it. This is an excellent story, and an excellent lesson, that I highly recommend for readers of all ages.

J. E. Thompson Novels in Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta Public Libraries!

LibraryWhen I was a student at Bushwick High School in Brooklyn, New York, I would visit the local public library and stare at the books and plays on the bookshelves.
I daydreamed!
I read the titles of books by famous authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald ( The Great Gatsby) , William Golding (Lord of the Flies) , Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God) and the plays of William Shakespeare and other great writers.
I thought one day I will write books then go to the library, look up and see my published novels on the shelves with those Titans of Literature. Am I one of those? “No!”, but I can see my novels on the bookshelves along side some great novels.
Well, God has Blessed me and now I have A Brownstone In Brooklyn and Philly Style and Philly Profile on the library bookshelves in major cities from Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta.
When I was scanning the internet and I saw my book was in the Atlanta Public Library System, I decided to visit downtown Atlanta and see my novel on the shelves. What really got me excited was seeing my books were being checked out by readers. Wow!
Now, with national the award winning The Ghost of Atlanta and A Brownstone in Brooklyn on the shelves of the Barnes & Nobles brick and mortar stores I’ve come a long way as a recognized author. I thank God for his many Blessings.
If you live near one of the library branches, please walk into the library and check out one of my books…it’s FREE!

Chicago Library System:

Free Library of Philadelphia: Six Libraries from Northeast Philly to West Philly

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System: The main research library on Auburn Avenue and other branches:

Dekalb County Library System (Georgia): Four libraries!production&view=subscriptionsummary&uri=full=3100001~!672102~!0&ri=1&aspect=subtab22&menu=search&ipp=20&spp=20&staffonly=&term=A+Brownstone+in+Brooklyn&index=.GW&uindex=&aspect=subtab22&menu=search&ri=1

Gwinnett County System (Georgia): Two Libraries*&query=&page=0&searchid=1

Georgia Pines Library System: Two Libraries.;qtype=keyword;locg=1