What is a Scene and How to Write One: 9 Simple Steps

What is a Scene and How to Write Them: 9 Simple Steps

Every story is built up with a varied number of scenes. In turn, every scene is built up with their own variables like location, character, time, plot, conflict, etc. To write a novel (or a short story, novella, etc.) you need to come to terms with that a story is written scene by scene (the length of your story will determine how many scenes you’ll need). It can, however, be tricky to write scenes—especially if you don’t exactly know what it means. It took me a while to wrap my head around the idea of thinking of a story being built up by scenes. Which is why I’ve written this blog post.

Here, I will share 9 steps on how to write a scene. But first, let’s look at what a scene is.


What is a Scene?

The short answer is that a scene is a unit that takes place at a specific location and in a specific time. You have a new scene if one of these changes.

The longer answer is a bit more complicated. But, basically, a scene is a unit that consists of all kinds of storytelling aspects (setting, description, dialogue, etc.) that work in harmony with each other to show something that is vital for the overall story. In other words, every scene must have a distinct purpose within the larger scope of your story.

Writing a scene can, therefore, become tricky because you need to look at it from two sides. You need to see the smaller picture (the scene) to write a good one that will reveal some new aspect of your plot or character, etc. Also, you need to see the bigger picture (the story) to write scenes that will harmonize together and create a great entity.


9 Steps on How to Write a Scene

To write a scene to the best of your effort, you should be able to answer the following questions for each of your scenes:

  • Which characters are in this scene? Do they all play an important role in this scene?

  • When and where does this scene take place?

  • What needs to happen in this scene? Think about the overall story.

  • What is the goal for this scene? Think about the protagonist’s goal for the overall story and what smaller goals he need to achieve to later achieve his main goal.

  • What is at stake for the protagonist in this scene?

  • What is the main conflict in this scene?

  • What’s the most surprising and unexpected thing that could happen in this scene?

  • How does this scene further develop the story’s plot?

  • What’s the worst that would happen to the overall story if this scene was omitted? In other words, is this scene absolutely vital for the overall story?


I hope you’ve found this useful!

Have you struggled with writing scenes before? If not, how have you gone about writing your scenes? Do you have any tips you would like to share? Please do share in the comments below.

What is a Scene and How to Write Them: 9 Simple Steps
What is a Scene and How to Write Them: 9 Simple Steps

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