Scene Structure

Question: After I write out a basic outline for my story I start writing scenes but they seemed to come up short. Is there any way I can structure a scene so that I can organize what I want in it and when I want it to occur?


Answer: Naturally, you can write an outline for a scene just as you would a story. It may be too much work to nail down everything in advance for every scene as part of your outline (not to mention it might kill the spontaneity of the writing process), but you can certainly jot down a point-form note about how you want a scene to go just before you write it.

If you have an outline for the entire story, you probably have some sense of how the scene fits into the whole, what has to happen. Perhaps the scene should provide a plot event, an important decision or action. Perhaps it will illustrate one of the 8 plot elements. Perhaps it will show a conversation where a character conflict emerges. Perhaps it should present an event that illustrates your theme. Perhaps all four.

As with a story, a good scene will have a beginning - something that starts the action or creates a purpose. It will have a complication - conflict or difficulties. It will have a climax that determines the outcome, and resolution to show what that outcome is.

Often, a scene will also be part of a larger sequence, so that, at the end of the scene, the reader is left wondering what will happen next as a result of what just happened.

If point-form notes don't work for you, you could also write a brief paragraph describing the scene. Make sure paragraph hangs together as a mini-story before you start writing the full scene.

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