There are a lot of really good writers out there who use narrative summary with finesse. I’m of the belief that paragraphs of such summaries are interruptions and distractions. They slow the action – which is the kiss of death.
But, if you must add narratives, the beginning of the scene is truly the best place. Don’t carry on-and-on or your reader will lose interest. Never add narratives at the end of a scene. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for narrative. Just be careful where you place them so the reader’s attention isn’t distracted for long periods of time.
There are occasions when specific information must be provided in order to set action into motion. Opening sentences such as, “They pronounced him dead miles before reaching the hospital,” “The bullet entered his forehead and exited the back of his skull. He dropped like a lead ball,” “The tornado evaporated, leaving the town level.”
There are times we can’t show a character’s thoughts or intentions with action. An accident victim under sedation, a small boy, or even an adult afflicted with Alzheimer. Narration is the only way to let the reader know what they feel or think.
Remember to use setting as a catalyst to launch a scene. How about a village on fire, an anaconda slithering across a glass-still lake, or an erupting volcano. Setting can have a dramatic input on the characters and plot.
Think about a group of people surviving a plane crash in the Ox Bow. What obstacles does the terrain cause? Is there any natural food? How about shelter? Do they have any way of protecting themselves from predators? Remember to add fauna and color. Bring the beauty of the scene alive . . . as well as the dangers.
Then you must consider how this setting affects your characters. Fear? Suspicions? Is there a killer among them? Is anyone more adapt to leading? Are they equipped, physically and emotionally, to handle the situation?
How do your characters play off of each other? Kind verses a hot-head. Macho verses a computer nerd. Female wrestler verses a beauty queen. You can use these comparisons or rivals to show a character’s feelings through the setting.
And always remember the weather can be a great vehicle to reflect a character’s temperament or the setting mood.
Remember that the beginning of your scene should draw your reader into another stepping stone toward the resolution of the plot. Take your time and draw your reader into the world you’ve created. You want your reader vested, pulling for the characters, frustrated at times with their decisions and outcomes, and rewarded with breathers of accomplishments and even love.
Make those scenes weave in, out, and around, like a beautifully crafted dream catcher. Its impact and allure will last beyond closing the cover. (single dream catcher I made)