back to list


Banes at 12:00AM, Aug. 3, 2017


Here are some thoughts on writing that smallest unit of a story: the scene.

First off, what is a scene? What defines that little mug?

It's Change.

Something changes between the beginning and end of a scene.

Here's a way to write one if you're stuck. These are the things to figure out that go on BENEATH the dialogue:

First, you have to know where you're at in your story. Who is your character and what do they want, in terms of the entire narrative? Where does this scene fit into that larger narrative?

Then, figure out what they WANT in this particular scene, and how they're going to go about getting it.

Finally, figure out what's in the way of achieving what they want - that's CONFLICT! Making things more difficult for our characters is what drives a story forward and makes us want to root for them!

If the readers can ANTICIPATE the conflict in some way, that can help. If your detective is going in to question someone, maybe we can get a look at how busy/grumpy/difficult that other person might be. Or maybe we know the protagonist has to LIE about something, and we're anticipating whether they're going to be found out.

Maybe the protagonist's goal is to close the window, and only the AUDIENCE knows there's a killer hiding outside. That's still conflict!

When the obstacle is overcome, or not, the scene is over.

I'll talk about dialogue and editing a scene next time.

Have a good Thursday!




Tantz_Aerine at 4:11PM, Aug. 6, 2017

Every scene is a step towards your story's conclusion! So for sure, it's the characters wading through towards it, and that's as you said, conflict and resolution in the tiniest unit. Nicely done!

bravo1102 at 4:44PM, Aug. 3, 2017

Classically a scene also meant unity of location. Since things can be depicted now in motion as our writing is no longer confined to the stage it's unity of character(s). As kam said one character has to anchor the scene. When he exits the scene is over. When the event that is the focus of the scene occurs a scene can also end with the characters onstage and it's the change of location or passage if time that is the scene change. I'm using theater and movies as my example because that's where the concepts pretty much came from and how I have to approach them because of my medium. I actually have to keep track of property, scenery and characters scene by scene. It's easiest to break down scene writing by location since that way it gives stage direction for change of set or backdrop. As i develop a scene from dialogue or action to production I'm adding thosr elements in. Got to keep track. And then there's continuity.

AmeliaP at 4:06PM, Aug. 3, 2017

Pure gold! :D Because the scene, the smallest unit of a story, dictates the rhythm of the story. All the pace is built on it. Lovely explanation here, Banes! Thank you!

KimLuster at 6:35AM, Aug. 3, 2017

'nuther great article! Yeah, a scene could be considered the base unit of a story. It could be said that a scene is sort of a mini-story in itself, in that it has a start/finish and seeks to accomplish something (the 'change' you speak of)! So if you can master a scene, you've got the building blocks to make a full story!!

KAM at 5:29AM, Aug. 3, 2017

It is possible to have more actors on stage and not change the number. A two-scene at a restaurant could have other actors sitting at other tables and/or a waiter who bring things to the two actors, but since they don't have significant part(s) to play they are essentially scenery.

KAM at 5:25AM, Aug. 3, 2017

I was reading a book on playwriting a bit ago and was introduced to the French Scene which can be a shorter scene as it depends on the number of characters. A monologue would be a one-scene, 2 people would be a two-scene, and so on. The overall scene could be made up of multiple French scenes, if I understand the concept correctly.

Forgot Password
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved Google+