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4 Reasons You’re Confused About Scene Structure

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I think of Katie Weiland as "our own K.M. (Tarin) Weiland" even though she hasn't been here in some time. Back in the day, Tarin was all over these forums. Now, she's very busy making a name for herself as an author and a writing teacher.

In this post, Katie clears the air about what scene structure is (and isn't). I learned something.


"...your scenes and sequels can be so big they span many chapters or so small there are several of them within a single chapter.

This is especially true of the sequel portion of the structure. Very often, in the heat of action, characters will experience a disastrous outcome, immediately process their reaction, face the dilemma, come to a decision, and begin acting upon a new goal—all within the space of a few sentences. Indeed, the whole concept of action/reaction can be found in “Motivation-Reaction Units” on the sentence level.


So, although you don’t need to particularly worry about the size of your scenes/sequels, there are two key things to keep in mind:

1. With few exceptions, you want to make sure all the pieces of the structure are present (at least implicitly), no matter how short or long your scene/sequel.

2. Scene structure controls your story’s pacing. Rapid-fire scene/sequel pairings, or even lengthy scenes with short sequels, will contribute to a fast pace. Longer scene/sequels or disproportionately longer sequel segments will slow down your pacing. You’ll want a good mix of both options."

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I'm so glad you introduced me to Scrivener, Phy, because it seems to help with the visual story mapping.  I'd never considered the pairing of sequels.  That is a immensely interesting concept.  Thanks as always!

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