FRIDAY NOTES & NEWS: Plotting Scenes

CommuterLit Editor & Publisher

RECENTLY, I’VE been thinking about plotting not on a manuscript level, but on a scene level, wondering if whether the practice could be useful for both plotters and pantsers alike. It’s a technique in which you analyze a scene (and there can be more than one scene per chapter) as a three-act-structure, with a beginning, middle and end. It could be as easy as a rough list of what happens in the scene and to what character (for the pantsers) or as detailed as you like (for the plotters).

I like to think about it as a series of questions: What is the point of the scene? Can I start it with purpose? Will it be a step forward for my protagonist in her quest/goal or a step backwards? Will she pay a price for success? Is there an emotional transformation for the protagonist however incremental? How does the protagonist earn success? (Use random luck or acts of God sparingly.) What are the highs and lows, the slow and fast of the scene? And finally, what kind of cliff can I end it on?

I’d be interested in hearing your insights into scene plotting. Leave me a comment below.

Contributor News

Dramatist, poet, short story writer, Christopher Woods will present his “Twelve from Texas: An Afternoon of Short Monologues” in May 2023 in Queens, NYC.

1 comment
  1. Excellent advice. Every so often in Brian’s writing group/class I’ll wonder “What is this scene was about and why is it here?” Every scene has to move the story forward, whether it’s character development, a twist or surprise, or simply progress with the action. My habit tends to be to write a scene as a pantster, then ask these questions once it’s done. Good discussion!

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