Dissect a Scene

Permalink

Anatomy of a Scene

If you dissect a scene, what do you find? Sandra Scofield, in The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer lays out a simple, yet insightful discussion of this concept and it’s usefulness to a novelist.

Here are the basics of a scene:

  1. Event and Emotion: Something happens and it makes the reader feel something. We’ll say it again: novels are made up of external events, not interior thoughts and feelings. Yes, novels are distinguished by their ability to take a reader inside a character’s head and show us their thoughts and feelings. Yet, paradoxically, the scene is the solid framework of events to which the character reacts.
  2. http://www.flickr.com/photos/krisbeltran/3359549493/

  3. Function: Hey, why did you write this scene and include it in your novel exactly here? For example:
    • Character: character entrance, develop character’s qualities, build relationship, complicate relationship, argument, making up, romance, etc.
    • Plot: conflict, twist, surprise
    • Technical stuff: foreshadowing

    The question is always, do you need this scene, or could you skip it or just summarize it?

  4. Structure: There should be a beginning, middle (including a turning point, or as Scofield describes it, a focal point), and end.
  5. Pulse: This is the emotional content of the scene, the underlying emotions, whether expressed explicitly or implied.

I could spend pages explaining each of these, but a demo will work better. Tomorrow, we’ll look at a film clip and see if you can identify each of these in the clip.

Meanwhile, read Scofield. Her explanations are so good, you should get it directly from the master.

Fiction Notes by Email

When a new post appears on Fiction Notes, we'll send it to you by email.
We love to make it easy for you!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

0 Comments