Posts Tagged ‘scenes’

Each event in a story takes place within a scene, showing the reader the action as it happens.

Short stories typically consist of only one or two scenes, while novels contain many. They vary in length, with some only a few paragraphs long and others covering many pages. However, most scenes follow a pattern similar to the typical story arc, beginning with a hook, building conflict or tension in the middle, and ending with a change in time/place, or a suspenseful moment (cliffhanger).

Each scene should serve a purpose in the story. It might:

  •   introduce or develop a conflict, theme, or character
  •   establish the setting (time period or place)
  •   create atmosphere (romantic, suspenseful, etc.)
  •   provide information that moves the plot forward

An author may use exposition to summarize what’s going on rather than including scenes to show all of the action as it happens. This provides a transition between scenes, and helps adjust the pacing of the story.



How do you determine if a scene is necessary? Do you like scenes that end on cliffhangers?



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According to the Encarta dictionary:

Chapter: one of the main sections of a text, usually having a title or number as a heading

 Scene: a short section of a play, movie, opera, or work of literature that presents a single event

Chapter breaks are generally used at crucial points in a story in order to build tension. Scenes show what happens during a specific time period, or in a specific location. A long scene might make up a whole chapter, but sometimes chapters include several short scenes.

Scene breaks are indicated by leaving an extra line, usually with a special symbol—such as #–centered on that line to clearly signal the reader that something is about to change. It may be a switch in the point of view character, a move to a different location, a flashback, or the return from one.

Short chapters and scenes can build suspense and increase the pace of a story. However, quickly switching back and forth between point of views or settings can also be confusing. Rather than “head hopping” or using lots of short scenes, you might consider using a narrative summary of certain events, or an explanation within dialog, to make the story flow more smoothly.

Approximately how long do you think a chapter should be?  Does it depend on the genre of the story? Do you prefer point of view changes to be done with new chapters, or does it matter to you?

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