Creative Writing Tutorials

A scene is considered the basic structure, or building block, of a narrative. In fiction, the writer uses a scene to show the action of an event. When he strings a series of scenes together, the writer has constructed a short story or a novel.

Pattern of a scene[]

This basic pattern may be used by the writer to develop a scene: goal, attempt, and setback. A scene usually has a goal for the character to achieve. The writer indicates this goal at the beginning of the scene. The middle of the scene displays the attempt of the character to achieve this goal. At the end of the scene, the character has received some kind of setback. The next scene will reveal the character’s response to the setback and a new goal is set. This cycle continues until the climactic scene where everything is at stake for the character. At the end of this scene, the character achieves his goal or all is lost.

Writing of a scene[]

Sometimes a writer may summarize events in different parts of a story; he does this through short scenes of exposition . He explains events to quickly get the reader to the next scene. At other times a writer will dramatize an event using the basic elements of fiction: dialogue, description, conflict, and suspense, among others. These scenes, told in narrative form, slow events down to "real time" and show the reader what the characters are actually doing and saying. Using narrative scenes, a writer attempts to make the reader forget he or she is reading; the writer wants the reader to live the story.

Purpose of a scene[]

The purpose of a scene helps achieve coherence in a short story or novel. The fiction writer should have a goal to accomplish with each scene. Common purposes of a scene include:

  • Advance story – The scene must move the story forward. This could mean introducing a problem or making a problem worse for the characters.
  • Show conflict – The conflict could be between two characters, a character and nature, a character and time, and so on.
  • Introduce character – The reader needs to meet each character at some point. A careful writer does not introduce too many characters in one scene. This could confuse the reader.
  • Develop character – Along with introducing a character, a writer can use a scene to show the character’s good and bad points.
  • Create suspense – Suspense keeps the reader’s interest going, perhaps more than any other element of fiction
  • Give information – The writer can weave information into a scene so the reader knows the needed background of the story.
  • Create atmosphere – Using conventions such as setting, weather, and time, the writer can create a certain mood in a scene.
  • Develop theme – A piece of fiction should have a theme. Each scene should bring out the theme to the reader.
  • Scenes that are memorable, the ones the reader remembers, will attempt to achieve as many of the previously mentioned purposes as possible. If the scene has no purpose -- or even has a purpose, but not a sufficient one to justify the space it takes up -- the writer should cut that scene out of the story.

Viewpoint of a scene[]

A viewpoint exists for every scene. Each scene is observed through the thoughts and emotions of one of the characters. That character is the point of view character (pov character). As he or she speaks and interacts with other characters, the pov character reveals the story through his or her perceptions. A short story usually has only one point of view character; the novel, however, may have several pov characters. A novel may contain scenes in which one character serves as the pov character throughout most of the scenes. Other characters would then serve as pov characters in the remaining scenes .

Some writers struggle with using either first person or third person when creating a story. To find a solution, a writer may rewrite a scene in each. Each person has its advantages and disadvantages. The draft which the writer feels would be more enticing to the reader should answer the question.

Length and setting of a scene[]

Length of a scene may trouble a writer. How long should a scene be? Some scenes may only be a few pages or even a few paragraphs; other scenes may be dozens of pages long. The writer should consider what is being focused upon in a scene to determine length. Scenes that focus on description or exposition should be shorter. Scenes that focus on building suspense or expressing emotion should be longer. No right solution exists to answer the question of scene length. The writer should use his instincts.

Another question that may arise for a writer is "How many settings should be included in a scene?" Some writers argue that an ideal scene should contain only one setting. Since fiction writing is subjective, a scene may require several settings. The writer should keep in mind that a setting could be portable, such as inside a car, on an escalator or on an airliner. Just as with the length of a scene, the writer again needs to use his instincts when determining how many settings to include in a scene.

* FILM & TELEVISION - In general, a way to guide the 'screen time' of your script is: 1 minute of Screen Time = 1 page of written script.Media:http:/ Peter Carr,Creative Producer,9 Frames Television group Inc.,Vancouver,B.C.,Canada

Beginning of a scene[]

Beginning a scene can enhance or detract from a writer's style. To capture the reader’s interest, which is the ultimate goal of creating fiction, a writer can begin a scene in medias res. This means in the middle of things. Starting the scene in the middle of some dialogue, such as an argument, or action, such as someone pointing a weapon at someone else, would possibly hook the reader. If done well, description of a character or a setting can begin a scene; however, the writer risks boring the reader if description is provided in large chunks. A solution would be to insert description among the dialogue and action. Many ways exist for a writer to begin a scene, but he should remember this goal: grab the reader’s attention as soon as possible.

Ending of a scene[]

Ending a scene properly can make the reader want more. When a point of view character has failed to reach his or her goal, the end of the scene is usually about to fall upon the reader. Sometimes a situation gets worse for the character; sometimes the character must consider his or her next course of action. The end result should be that the reader wants to see what happens next. The writer can facilitate this by showing the character's upcoming plans to achieve the goal.