Writing fiction is about creating tension. Scenes are the units of tension that form a novel. It is important, therefore, that scenes be built properly so as to create the kind of tension that will keep readers turning pages.
Scenes are essentially of two kinds: Action Scenes and Reaction Scenes. There is a third kind that is a combination of these two, but in this post, I will limit myself to Action Scenes and Reaction Scenes. If you’ve read books on scene-building, you know that Action Scenes are comprised of a goal, a conflict, and a disaster. Reactions scenes must have a response to the disaster in the previous scene, a dilemma resulting from the disaster in the previous scene, and a decision about what to do in the dilemma.
So here is the breakdown:
1) ACTION SCENES must include a goal, a conflict, and a disaster.
2) REACTION SCENES must include a response, a dilemma, and a decision.
As you build your scenes, determine first what kind of scene you are writing. Is it an Action Scene or a Reaction Scene? Once you have determined which kind of scene you are writing, include the elements necessary to that type of scene.
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