Scenes are basic building blocks of narrative. A scene can be defined as a story episode rendered fully and dramatically in order to make the reader feel she is present and witnessing the action in real time. In effective scenes, things happen and the world shifts. Secrets are discovered. Adversaries are confronted. Revelations arise. Decisions are made. When you write–especially when you rewrite–you should know what each scene accomplishes in your story. Ask yourself what function it serves. Effective scenes do more than one thing at once, but a quick inventory will help you stay on track and in action with your stories.
When working on your next scene, assign a one-word caption to define the scene’s primary function: Catalyst; Decision; Investigation; Discovery; Confrontation; Revelation; Recognition; Turning point; Capitulation; Defiance; Resolution.
It’s worth repeating that effective scenes work simultaneously on more than one level–for example, serving to introduce a character and a conflict in a particular setting, and providing vital backstory. Remember, your goal is always to deepen the story conflict and to move the story forward. That’s where the one-word captions come in handy.
To be continued…