Elements of a Scene, Part 1

Scenes are like the bricks of the path of a story, namely, the plot. No bricks, no path. No scenes, no story. Although that’s a given, many people only see scenes as sections of stories that have their own place and setting. But did you know that scenes should be created for a specific purpose?

That’s right! Regardless of what type of scene it is, any given scene should unveil elements of your characters and/or your story. Not only does this make your story interesting and memorable, it makes sure that the scenes you are using have a point. If you have scenes that just don’t shed some light into your character’s personality, motivations, fear, etc. or the plot, you should cut it. Yes, even if you absolutely love the scene and think it is a stroke of genius. Why? Because if you riddle your works with pointless scenes, the reader may get confused or even uninterested in what they are reading. Sarah Domet had the right idea when she likened individual scenes to “mini stories” that should leave the reader feeling like they learned something about either the characters or the plot as a whole.

Scenes really are like mini stories. As shown below, a scene should have a beginning, a middle/climax, and an end, just like a story. You should be able to pull a single scene out of a book or one of your own works and be able to clearly understand the subtle rising action, the pivotal point (i.e., the part of the scene in which the reader learns about a character or the plot), and some falling action before the ending. However, the ending of a scene should not be ‘lower’ or less intense than the beginning of the scene.

Single Scene

You can see that I’ve ended the scene structure higher than the point of the beginning. This is because, through your scenes, you are creating the rising action of your plot. You wouldn’t want the intensity to die down because it didn’t continually rise up after each scene, would you? Below, you can see how individual scenes should link together to create the rising and falling action of a story. (Given that I drew this, keep in mind that there can be more than 5 scenes in a story.)

Scenes of a Story

Also know that the climax in itself is an individual scene. I like to think the climax as its own type of scene ( that I have portrayed as an upside down V, as seen here) because after the climatic event, there is not longer any rising action.

Stay tuned for Part 2 which will touch on what types of scenes you can and should use in your writing.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Fiction/Non-Fiction Writing, For Your Journey | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Elements of a Scene, Part 1

  1. I am writing my first novel and am still in the outlining phase so this information on scene development is so helpful! Thanks so much!

  2. Pingback: Elements of a Scene, Part 3 « Whisperer of Words

  3. Pingback: Act 1 | Whisperer of Words

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