Fiction: Writing scene by sequel by scene


Way back when I was a fairly new writer, I read something about scenes and sequels and the need for both in your writing.  As I remember it, scenes are where the action takes place.  Your character has a goal, attempts to achieve it and said goal is thwarted.  Sequels are the lull before the next attempt. This is where your character contemplates the failure and sets the next goal.

All scenes and no sequels make for tiring reading and a story that feels rushed.  But sequels slow the action down and if you slow it down too much, you might lose the reader.

It’s a way of structuring a story that always works well for me yet when I attempted to find information on this some months back via Google . . . nothing.  I could find the terms and next to nothing more.  So I was silly happy when I saw K.M. Weiland’s post on scene and sequel. Weiland recommends that we break down our scenes beyond scene and sequel to recognize the three essential parts of each.

Scenes are composed of goal, conflict, and disaster.  I think I had this part down, but the three parts of the sequel?  Not so much.

Sequels consist of reaction, dilemma, and decision.  Reaction is when the character reacts to being thwarted.  Some reactions are largely internal such as feelings of shock. Or it can be physical as when a ladder tips or the character begins to slide down the roof.

Next the character considers what this means.  Worry, angst, whoa I barely made it.  This doesn’t have to be extensive but it does have to take place so that the reader has access to the why and wherefore of . . .

The decision which turns into the goal for the next scene.

If this is a highly physical life or death situation, the sequel can be processed very quickly but you can’t do that too often or you’ll tire the reader out.  Thrown in a sequel in which characters argue over what happens next, the character has to access information or wait and watch while the dust settles.  Granted, you don’t want to do this too often either or the pace may seem slow.

Dark and light.  Scene and sequel.  description and action.  Writing great fiction is a balancing act and I’m looking forward to writing a bit more fiction in 2017.