Setting the scene


It isn’t a sentence or paragraph that will push your story forwards its the scene that they sit within.

After finishing the first edit of my novel I am now understanding the importance of just how vital the way scenes flow together is to the make up of the story. In essence the DNA of the novel and the building blocks of what it will be created from.


Scenes are an essential element of every strory each scene should have a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Regardless of the type of scene every one should advance the plot in some way. If a scene has no effect on the outcome of the novel or the storyline as a whole, you need to ask yourself why it’s been added in the first place. 

What types of scenes are there?

Opening Scenes: The first scene of a novel, the opening scene, is arguably the most important. It is the readers’ first introduction to a novel and can compel them to continue reading or cause them to put the book away unread. One way to “hook” readers in the opening scene is to get them emotionally involved with the main character or storyline right from the start. Beginning a novel with description of the setting or explanation of past events doesn’t work well. It is best to begin at a crucial moment in the action and give enough information so that readers want to find out what happens next. 

Exposition Scenes: here information on the setting of the novel is revealed such as time and places or even the character’s background or future goals. 

Action Scenes: these will comprise the majority of a novel. In these scenes, the character is trying to accomplish parts of their primary objective or even a subgoals which will lead to the final resolution. These scenes involve some type of conflict with either the protagonist or the antagonist coming out ahead at its resolution. 

Transition Scenes: these move the characters to another setting or through a period of time. The main purpose of these scenes is to make the novel flow as smoothly as possible and link other scenes together.

Ending Scenes: equally important as your opening scene it  involves the resolution of the novel. All conflicts should be resolved, questions answered, and loose ends tied up.

So how do you go about constructing Scenes 

Each scene will have some information which is directly expressed and some which is implied. Direct information is the characters’ thoughts, actions, and dialogue. Implied information is revealed by how the scene is presented. If one scene was used to show the reader that the main character is painfully shy, instead of telling, them would show it through their actions and other direct information. 

Intensity will vary to keep the reader from getting either bored or emotionally drained and will be determined by the importance of winning the conflict in each scene, the risks involved, and the resolution.

When writing the scenes of your novel, make every one have a purpose and need to  flow one into the next and this will help grip the reader.

Neil Sehmbhy is a self confessed geek and the author of the upcoming Sunder, Corporation novels.


Follow him on twitter @neilsehmbhy


2 responses to “Setting the scene

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