Choosing scenes

Let’s say you wanted to write the story of “The Three Little Pigs.”

Here are possible scenes:

  • Joe and Jenny Pig meeting and falling in love.
  • Joe and Jenny Pig telling their parents that they are going to have babies.
  • The surprise of having triplets
  • Various scenes raising those triplets.
  • The final straw (so to speak) that made Joe Pig decide to send his triplets off to find their fortune.
  • The going away scene.
  • Various scenes on the road with the triplets.

And so on.

When we write, we don’t develop a full scene for everything that happens. I’ve gone overboard here suggesting scenes for the backstory, but even within the timeline of the story, many possible scenes are skipped over.

How do you choose what scenes to include?

In this current revision, it’s going in slightly different directions. Yet many of the scenes that I already have will still be included, just with slightly different contexts or emphases. Some scenes, though, won’t go into the new version. Each scene must have a function, a reason to exist in this new story. They might function to characterize, to provide context, to advance the action, to increase tension, etc.

If a scene is to be included, it must serve a function. Otherwise, it’s out.

How do you choose what scenes to include?

4 responses to “Choosing scenes”

  1. That’s always difficult. Early structural planning is important to me. I tend to write what I feel needs airing. Then in further drafts I will cull. I ask myself several questions for every scene … Am I moved by this? Do I find myself immersed in this world? Do I feel a deeper sense of character? Does the scene I’m reading make me think forward to what might happen several scenes ahead, or several chapters ahead?

    The more novice you are the more you get this sort of thing wrong. It only comes with practice. It’s a writers version of pumping iron.

  2. I look at each scene and decide if it helps move the story forward. I ask myself: Is this scene is critical to the plot arc and the MC’s development?

  3. Sarah–
    So the two functions of a scene that are most important to you are the plot arc and MC’s development. Interesting. Thanks for the comment!