A scene is something we all write in our novels, screenplays, even poetry sometimes. It’s essential to have scenes in your writing and not just one or five scenes, I mean there should be scenes all over the place. It’s nothing we really think about too much because we write them automatically. Still, there’s a way to write a good one, so here are the 5 elements of a scene.
Time & Place
One of the first things you want to establish in your scene is the time and place. This will show your readers where your characters are. Certain things may happen at certain times of the day as well. If they’re going to the store, what store? What time does the store open? Did your character oversleep? Are they in the middle of no where?
When writing George Florence & The Perfect Alibi I have the date, time, and place written at the beginning of each chapter. I originally did that just to help me keep the timeline straight but I think I may keep it in. It seems like a nice heading for the next part, a good time jump, and it lets the reader know when and where they are right off the bat. Especially if they go to the same place over and over again (like George’s office) there’s no need to full describe it each and every time we visit it.
A Clear Goal
Something needs to be accomplished during the scene. Why are the characters where they are? What are they trying to do? Having a clear goal gives the scene a purpose and it also aids in character development. It shows what sort of decisions they’ll make and how they’ll be under pressure in certain situations.
Conflict & Action
In order to keep the story going something needs to happen, right? There needs to be some sort of conflict or action that happens. There’s always something that gets in the characters’ way or they fail or succeed or something just happens unexpectedly.
This one can kind of go along with the goal. The characters are there for a purpose and their goal is so close, but then something gets in the way. Plans change.
What’s happened to your characters as a result to something that’s happened in the scene? For example, if they couldn’t reach their goal because some sort of conflict happened, they’re certainly not going to be happy. Or what if they succeed? They will be happy but then what happens? They’re mood is going to change and that sets things up for the next scene.
A Page-Turning Ending
Each scene needs to have a clear ending. The goal, conflict, and characters can either change or stall or some can get resolved but something else comes up… the possibilities are endless. But depending on what happens, you need to make it so the reader is wants to continue reading and see what happens next to the characters.