Saturday, 12 March 2011


Sometimes I like to go through the underpinnings of creative fiction in the hope that eventually the knowledge will fix itself in my brain. Tonight I have been looking at what makes a scene.
Ideally, every SCENE is a story event. To quote McKee: a SCENE is an action through conflict in more or less continuous time and space that turns the value charged condition of a character’s life on at least one value with a degree of perceptible significance.
In simpler language: a SCENE should not change its setting, and once begun, time runs in its correct sequence to the end of the scene. Within that SCENE, something has to happen that changes the character’s views, potential action or perception, and it has to be noticeable to the reader.
Then you can have a SCENE BREAK, and begin the next with a change of setting, time and the characters present if you wish. Or you can stick with character and place, but make it an hour later.

You should know what is at stake in the SCENE before you begin. Does the thing at stake change during the SCENE? Is it a positive, negative or a neutral change? If it is neither positive nor negative, how has it changed, or why is it there?
SCENES can be broken down into BEATS and we don’t mean a short pause. In this case, a BEAT is an exchange of behaviour, either proactive or reactive. BEAT by BEAT the scene is formed, and ought to lead to a TURNING POINT.
BEATS build into scenes and a run of 2-5 scenes builds into a SEQUENCE. The final scene of a SEQUENCE should deliver a scene of greater power and impact than the previous scenes. A series of SEQUENCES builds into an ACT, or a moment that turns on a major reversal for the character in some way.
Now I ought to go and look at my wip and see how I’m doing.

1 comment:

Sue Roebuck said...

Thank you Jen. Now you've made me need to go back and check the scenes in my WIP. It's always good to be reminded because they won't (naughty things) stay in my mind.