Scenes

Question: Would you please explain what a successful scene should do.


Answer: There are of course two definitions of scenes.

The first definition, coming from the theatrical tradition, is that a scene is a flow of action that takes place at a particular place at a particular time. In a play (or novel), whenever you change locations or have a jump in time, we say a new scene has begun.

More precisely, a scene describes one or more events. Events are irreversible changes that are meaningful and give the character(s) new purposes.

You can have several events take place at a certain location one after the other or simultaneously. You can also have different types of events taking place in a scene such as plot events (which move the story towards the resolution of the story goal), character events (which reveal a character's nature or a change of heart), or theme events (which reveal the validity of the premise, issue, or moral of the story). Events can be either decisions or actions.

Of course, you can enrich the reader's experience of the events with dialogue, descriptive details, and narrative style.

However, the one thing you should not do is have a scene in which no meaningful event occurs. That is just a waste of space and it leaves a reader feeling dissatisfied.

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