Scenes make up the entire structure of your novel, so it’s important to know how to do this well. Very often, a new scene is identified by the start of a new chapter, but it can also be a few paragraphs/pages long. Identifying a scene is the first step.
Here is the technical definition: A scene is a unit of story that takes place at a specific location and time. If those change, you have a new scene. Your story will be illogical is it has no semblance of scene or scene changes, so this is very important.
It helps to think of each scene as its own story, with a beginning, middle, and end. Each scene needs to be necessary and advance the plot in some way, just like every other detail of your writing. However, each scene plays into the bigger story of your novel. They all build on each other.
Here are a few tips to improve the way you write scenes and communicate with your audience:
Cut out unnecessary information.
Your writing will improve drastically if you can figure out the point of each scene. What are you trying to say? What are you revealing about your characters? Each scene should add to the overall story and give us a sense of where our characters are going. Any scene that doesn’t do this should be cut. This helps keep your novel flowing and will prevent your writing from getting boring.
Goal, conflict, and distaster/resolution.
This is pretty standard formula for crafting a strong scene. What goal is your character trying to accomplish? What is the conflict and what stands in their way? What happens as a result of their actions? How will they resolve this problem? Obviously not every scene will have a resolution, but the disaster should lead into the next scene. Think about these things when you’re constructing your novel. If a scene doesn’t seem to have a point, cut it. If you feel like your novel is dragging, keep a look out for scenes like this.
Don’t prematurely cut to a new scene.
Your scenes need to flow, so if you’re constantly cutting to new scenes your novel will feel disjointed. For example, if a character dies you can’t just cut to new action without any of the characters dealing with it. Don’t go from place to place or time to time without developing the story properly or using transitions. Let us stay with a scene until it leads to something else that drives the story forward. Writing up an outline will help with this.