Memorable Scenes: What Sticks With a Reader

Spoiler Alert! Spoilers ahead!

I recently finished reading Alex Bledsoe’s Blood Groove, and haven’t been able to get the last scene out of my mind. I’m a bit claustrophobic, and let’s just say being encased in concrete for eternity is a hell I’d rather not visit. *shudders*

Writing scenes that stick with a reader is a great, amazing thing. I don’t know how to do that consciously–people react personally to such different things that anticipating a reader’s reaction is impossible. I guess the lesson is to make each scene as vivid as we can, hoping some poor claustrophobic (or whatever) reader will be totally creeped by it.

So I began thinking about some of my favorite authors and what scenes have stuck with me long after I read the books. Without cheating, here are some that come to mind, in no order.

* In Patricia Briggs’ Iron Kissed, there is a scene where Mercy has been raped and she’s freaked out and hiding in her coyote form. Her werewolf friends come looking for her, and know she’s there but can’t find her. It’s a simple scene, but it made me cry when I read it and–let’s be honest–urban fantasy isn’t often a tear-inducing genre. Amazing writing.

* In Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series, there are a few scenes that have made me put the book down and guffaw, and I’m not cheating so I can’t say which books these scenes appear in. (Maybe the whole point is that the scenes transcend the books.) Among them: When Harry and Murphy are in the suburban Walmart and are attacked by the plant monster; Harry animating the dinosaur skeleton from the museum and riding it like a bronco to the rescue; When Harry goes to Thomas’ apartment looking for him and has to pretend he’s his brother’s lover in order to get into the apartment. Okay, so I have a teenage boy sense of humor. What can I say?

* In Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, there’s a scene in Narcissus in Chains (I think) where Nathaniel has been skewered to the wall with knives. Since he’s a sexual submissive he doesn’t have the boundaries to say stop, and since he’s a wereleopard he heals so quickly that the knives have become embedded in his body as he’s healed around them. Getting him off that wall was gruesome and horrifying, especially since Nathaniel is one of the “innocents” in this series.

* In Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking, Rachel Morgan takes a potion to infiltrate the evil Trent Kalamack’s lair. It turns her into a mink. Unfortunately, Trent catches her and puts her in a cage, then takes her to the rat fights and throws her into the ring. I still giggle over that whole scenario. An outraged mink is a funny, funny thing.

* In JR Ward‘s Black Dagger Brotherhood, when Bella goes through her “Needing,” and Zsadist has to let go of enough of his neuroses to help her. O.M.G. Other scenes from this series–too numerous to mention. If you want a lesson in Deep POV, read these books.

I guess the whole point being, scenes that stick with us have been able to pull strong emotion from us as readers, whether it’s amusement, anger, fear, lust, or sadness.

What are some of your favorite scenes–and why are they favorites?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

2 thoughts on “Memorable Scenes: What Sticks With a Reader

  1. I enjoyed revisting some of these scenes with you. The gut-wrenching feeling when Nathaniel was tortured in Laurell K. Hamiltons’s came back as clear as the first reading. Others in your list I haven’t read encourage me to read those books.

    Thanks lots for sharing!