Aug. 26, 2021

5-Minute Drill: Set Pieces

5-Minute Drill: Set Pieces

What is a set piece, and how do I use it in a story?

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What is a set piece and where can I get one?

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Transcribed by; Lightly edited by Linda. Please forgive typos or grammar errors.

Episode 348 - 5 Minute Drill: Set Pieces


Linda 00:00

Welcome to Tart Words. I'm your host, Linda Hengerer. And I'm a writer, a reader, and a baker. I talk to writers about their latest book and what inspires them, chat with fellow author Suzanne Fox about what writers can learn from reading their favorite authors, and share fast and easy recipes for anyone looking for a sweet treat. Join me as I share Tart Bites, Tart Thoughts, and Tart Words. 

In this episode of Tart Words, Linda Hengerer talks about Set Pieces and gives writers a 5-Minute Drill. 

What is a set piece? It’s a scene where something big happens. These aren’t just the highlights, but the basic building blocks of your genre, the ones you’ll hear about from disappointed readers if they’re missing. If you’re telling someone about a book or movie, are you telling them about the major plot points? If so, most likely they’re set pieces.

In a romance, the set pieces are: Girl Meets Boy; Girl Loses Boy; Girl Gets Boy. A popular set piece within Girl Gets Boy is the airport scene. You know the one, where someone is running through the airport attempting to tell the one who might be getting away that they love them. This scene can be in a train station, a ferry terminal, or any place that signals a departure; the location acts as a portal denoting a character achieving their goal or losing it.

In a mystery, the set pieces are: Finding the Body; Figuring out Whodunnit; Catching the Killer. Set pieces in a cozy mystery include how or why the amateur sleuth gets involved (usually it’s personal); interviewing suspects; reviewing the case with their bestie over food and a beverage. 

In a thriller, set pieces might include a car chase, a foot race, or a cat-and-mouse search between hunter and hunted.   

5-Minute Drill: Set Pieces

Think about your work in progress or the genre you are or want to write in. 

Set a timer for five minutes. 

Write or type everything you can think of about your set pieces. 

After the timer goes off, review what you wrote. 

  • Do your set pieces fit your genre? 
  • Do your set pieces hit the high points and/or the big scenes? 
  • Do your set pieces move the plot forward?

After you’ve written your initial draft, think about the set pieces for your story and whether your set pieces fit your genre.

Thank you for joining me this week. To view the complete show notes and the links mentioned in today's episode, visit Follow now in the app you're using to listen to this podcast or sign up for email alerts through an easy signup form for bakers, readers, and writers at Thank you again for joining me, Linda Hengerer, for this episode of Tart Thoughts.