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16.04.2013 21:54    Comments: 0    Categories: Writing Scenes      Tags: kim kay  writing  scenes  building blocks  novels  

"The basic unit of fiction is not the sentence or the paragraph, but the scene." -- Unknown


A novel is made up of several mini-stories which, when linked together, create the plot. These mini-stories are called scenes. Like chapters and the novel as a whole, each scene has a distinct beginning, middle, and end. There are many different types of scenes but every one should advance the plot in some way. If a particular scene has no effect on the outcome of the novel or the storyline as a whole, it should be omitted or rewritten.


Types of Scenes


Opening Scenes: The first scene of your novel, the opening scene, is arguably the most important. It is your readers' first introduction to your novel and can compel them to continue reading or cause them to put the book away unread. One way to "hook" your readers in the opening scene is to get them emotionally involved with the main character or storyline right from the start. You do not want to begin your novel with description of the setting or explanation of past events. You want to begin at a crucial moment in the action and give enough information so that your readers want to find out what happens next.


Action Scenes: Action scenes will comprise the majority of your novel. In these scenes, the character is trying to accomplish parts of his or her primary objective or one of the subgoals which will lead him or her to the resolution of the novel. These scenes will have some type of conflict with either the protagonist or the antagonist coming out ahead at its resolution. The "winner" should vary from scene to scene to help build suspense.


Exposition Scenes: The purpose of exposition scenes is to give information on the setting of the novel. Time and place are revealed. Exposition scenes can also be used to show a character's background or future goals.


Transition Scenes: Transition scenes move the characters to another setting or through a period of time. The main purpose of these scenes is to make the novel flow as smoothly as possible. They allow you to link together action, exposition, and other scenes, making the novel seem as if it were one continuous scene.

Ending Scenes: Your ending scene is almost as important as your opening scene. It is the resolution of your novel. By the ending scene, all conflicts should be resolved, questions answered, and loose ends tied up. Your reader should go away feeling satisfied and a sense of completion.


Constructing Scenes


Each scene will have some information which is directly expressed and some which is implied. Direct information is the characters' thoughts, actions, and dialogue. Implied information is revealed by how you present your scene. If one scene was used to show the reader that the main character is painfully shy, instead of telling, you would show it through their actions and other direct information.


Your scenes should vary in intensity to keep the reader from getting either bored or emotionally drained. Intensity level is determined by the importance of winning the conflict in each scene, the risks involved, and the resolution of the conflict. Generally, scenes near the climax of the novel will be more intense than ones in the middle.


Your scenes may also vary in length. There is no formula for determining the "right" length of a scene. It can be anywhere from a couple of sentences to several pages. Basically, a scene needs to be long enough to achieve its purpose. In action scenes, for example, the scene ends when the conflict of that scene is resolved and the character(s) involved either learn something or are a step closer to (or farther from) his or her primary goal.


When writing the scenes of your novel, make every one have a purpose and let them flow one into the next. In you achieve these two things, you will be well on your way to creating an enjoyable and tightly written novel.


By Kim Kay

Visit Kim at The Write Site

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