Friday Fix (Craft): The Anatomy of a Great Scene

A story is made up of scenes, and as we build strong scenes, we build a strong story. Today we’ll talk about the anatomy of a great scene.

In her pivotal book, GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict , Debra Dixon notes that every story and, indeed, every scene is comprised of three elements: goal,motivation, and conflict. Goal is what your protagonist wants. Motivation is whyshe wants the goal. Conflict is what makes your protagonist and your readerworry that your protagonist may not reach her goal. So, as you write a scene, think in terms of the three Ws, WhatWhy, and Worry.

With this in mind, here are a few tips to help you build a great scene:

1) Always have a scene goal (your character’s what) and introduce increasingly difficult obstacles that prevent her from achieving it.

2) Always have a scene motivation (your character’s why) and raise the stakesso that your character’s why becomes stronger as the scene progresses.

3) Always have a scene conflict (your character’s reason for worry) and worsen the conflict until your scene ends with a cliff-hanger that forces your reader to turn the page.

In future posts on Friday Fix, we’ll take the three elements of a scene–goal, motivation, and conflict–and discuss each one in more detail.

Now let’s hear from you.  Do you apply the three Ws to your scene-building and, if so, how?

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2 thoughts on “Friday Fix (Craft): The Anatomy of a Great Scene

  1. his is wonderful, MaryAnn, thanks so much! You’ve got my mind going with my WIP, reviewing existing scenes, and considering ones in the works.
    Have a great weekend,
    Karen

    June 1, 2012 10:28 PM

    • You’re welcome, Karen! Thanks for your comment. I’m delighted that my post got your “mind going” regarding your WIP.

      Blessings as you write,

      MaryAnn