As I do the research to write my mystery, I’ve been contemplating potential scenes. What is a scene? Try to find a definition online and you’re going to feel like you are looking for a unicorn or the Holy Grail.
Simply put, a scene is a unit of story telling. Part of the reasons that it is so vague and confusing is that there are two types of scenes. Confusingly enough, one of them is called the Scene. I know. It makes you want to beat your head on the desk, doesn’t it? The other is called the Sequel.
In a Scene, the character tries to accomplish something. This goal is somehow thwarted.
In a Sequel, the character reacts to having everything go ka-fooey. Part of the reaction may by physical but part of it is mental because by the next Scene the character needs a new goal.
The Scene is the unit of action. It is when things happen
The Sequel gives your reader time to reflect and gather herself up before your character gives it another go.
If your character has just discovered that she was betrayed by her best friend or her boyfriend, the Sequel may be pages and pages long. It may be the same length as the Scene it follows. If your character is scaling the wall of a building and the rope breaks, the Sequel may consist of only a sentence or two. Grab the ledge? Discover her super power? Splat?
I have to admit that I am much better at writing Scenes than I am at writing Sequels but Sequels are important. They give the reader a chance to feel and reflect along with your character. You need this to help build empathy.
A manuscript that is Scene heavy is going to be exhausting to read. Your reader will have troubles caring about your character because she won’t know your character. A manuscript that is Sequel heavy may seem to drag.
Take a look at your work-in-progress. Have you remembered to include Sequels to balance your Scenes? If not, you might want to give it some serious thought.