The 5 Elements Of A Good Scene


A novel is written by writing one scene after another. You need between 60 and 80 scenes (which consist of 75% ‘action’ scenes and 25% reaction ‘sequels’) in an average book. This depends on the genre and the length of the book.

Once a writer understands this, writing a book becomes easier.

Understanding (Action) Scenes

  1. A scene always contains conflict. A scene is written as if the reader were watching and listening to it happen. Become a film director and direct your scene.
  2. Build it using the tools of dialogue and action. Dramatise the scene. Never describe or summarise.
  3. Scenes exist for a reason. Something needs to happen for 365 pages to keep your reader interested. Scenes show that goals must be made, and an attempt must be made to achieve these goals.
  4. Scenes are never superfluous. They exist to show characters. They reveal motivations. They provide information about plot. They move your story forward.
  5. Remember that something happens next. End a scene making us wonder what will happen next.

The five elements of a good scene

Write a scene using one of these scenarios as inspiration:

  1. A bride on her way to her wedding, her father is beside her
  2. A couple arguing on their first date
  3. The funeral of a man who was married five times
  4. Guests sitting in the ‘green room’ of a talk show
  5. A bridegroom and his best man waiting at the altar

A sequel is more complex and is equally important in making a good novel better. Find out more about using scenes and sequels to help you with pacing.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

by Amanda Patterson

© Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. How To Plot A Perfect Scene In 10 Minutes
  2. How To Write A Beginning And An Ending That Readers Will Never Forget
  3. Why First Time Authors Don’t Write The Books They Want To Read