Setting the Scene… Which Suddenly CHANGES

jeff salter~ By Jeff Salter

Sometimes when we’re writing and have a particular scene going, we realize that all kinds of things could happen AFTER that initial scene set-up.


            The following actually occurred, in early July, four years ago.

Sometimes you see things that make you wish you hadn’t. My wife and I were eating supper at a local spot we like. Seated next to the windows, we couldn’t help but notice two guys approaching from a newly-parked vehicle.

            “His barn door is open,” I said… with the casual observation skills of an experienced writer.

“Why’d you tell me? Now I’m gonna have to look,” she replied. And she did.

“He made it easy to spot since he’s wearing red skivvies,” I added. I’d begun to think his display was purposeful.

“You’d think his buddy would’ve told him,” my wife mused out loud.

I, on the other hand, wondered if the buddy had deliberately withheld that info.

“He’ll probably come sit right next to us,” she warned me. You’d have thought she was viewing a horrific traffic collision in progress.

“Well, it won’t show so much if he’s sitting down,” I replied.

But my wife was not to be calmed. So she hurried me through my last few bites and we departed… in time to see the furtive glances of the service crew behind the counter taking the orders of the new arrivals.


Okay, that’s the scene as it actually played out. But what if my real-life anecdote had been only the introduction to a much larger scene?

If this were your story, given this introductory scene, where might you take it?

What if the guy walks up and introduces himself like this, “I couldn’t help noticing you watched me coming in. Do I know you?”

What would you say?

What would his buddy be doing at this point?


As we authors are composing scenes, let’s not be too quick to end them prematurely. Sometimes the characters can take us in a totally different direction.

Jeff Salter, who has written 12 novels and five novellas, already has 13 fiction titles released with three royalty publishers. His most recent is “The Duchess of Earl” released in mid-July by Clean Reads. Two more titles are due out this year and he has several works in progress.


5 thoughts on “Setting the Scene… Which Suddenly CHANGES”

  1. yeah, that was a cool post about the slip showing.
    With guys, it’s usually a matter of pulling him aside and saying, “your barn door’s open”. That’s why it’s more likely that his buddy had NOT yet noticed.
    I can imagine the scene going all kinds of ways, if the man had noticed people were watching him… and then inquired of one of them.

  2. I think his friend might be snickering,but then, it IS possible that his friend did not notice…do men notice these things? Women certainly can tell you anything that is wrong with their friend’s attire, but I am not sure men look their pals over.
    What to do?
    The man might ask to speak with him aside, (as it would be a nice thing to do). A lady would be in an awkward position, if she were alone. I might look grandmotherly enough to take him aside but not if he greeted me with “I saw you watching me”!!! That would be too embarrassing!
    Too bad there isn’t a ‘silent signal’ for that like for a slip showing, as we discuss on “Four Foxes, One Hound” yesterday, huh, Jeff?

  3. thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share this real-life experience… along with some perspective that may be useful for other authors.

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