Writing a Novel – Learn What a Scene Is and How to Build
I think that one of the biggest problems a writer encounters when writing a novel, is that they
don’t understand the definition of a scene. I was once in the same boat. I have a slew of books on
writing a novel – they’re all over the place in my home: in my office, living room, on the
bedroom floor, in my computer bag, everywhere, a few are even on the bookshelves.
To write this piece of the novel writing puzzle, I dug through each of these rooms in search of
the books with the best descriptions for writing scenes. And guess what? I found very little that
talked about scenes – defining them, creating them. Novel writing books discuss plot, subplot,
characters, motivation, emotion, dialogue, settings, descriptions, and publication – even how to
write the blockbuster and breakout novels, but very little print space was allotted for describing
how to write scenes.
No wonder writers have a hard time figuring out how to construct a scene when writing a novel.
For many writers, the idea of writing a scene seems like a big mystery, something difficult to do
that only the best writers know about. But that’s not true. If you’re writing a novel, you can learn
to create scenes for it that move your story along and reveal the traits of your character. And
that’s why I’m going to address what a scene is and how to go about constructing one.
Writing a Novel Requires Knowing the Definition of a Scene
The word “scene” as it relates to writing a novel (and movies, plays, the opera) can be defined in
1. A scene is a continuous action set in one place.
2. A scene is a short section that presents a single event.
3. Scenes are the building blocks of plot in a story.
When writing a novel, a writer must pull all of those definitions together so that the definition of
a scene looks like this:
A scene is a short section (in comparison to the whole story) presenting a single event at a single
location. A story is a series of scenes that when strung together make up the plot and ultimately
the whole story.
Writing a Novel Requires Knowing the Elements of a
So now that we know what the term “scene” means, let’s look at how a scene is constructed.
Yes, there is a proper way to write a scene. When writing a scene, a writer follows the same
elements of construction they use when creating a plot. So if you know how to develop a plot,
you know how to write a scene. Let’s look:
A plot has a beginning, middle and an end.
A scene has a beginning, middle and an end, or at least a closing.
A Plot has:
Conflict (where the protagonist and antagonist meet and clash)
A resolution of the conflict by the lead character
A Scene has:
A plot of its own with characters, conflict, and a resolution of the conflict or a closing to
You can finish reading this article on our website about writing a novel.