Scene and sequel

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Scene and sequel are two types of written passages used by authors to advance the plot of a story. Scenes propel a story forward as the character attempts to achieve a goal.[1] Sequels provide an opportunity for the character to react to the scene, analyze the new situation, and decide upon the next course of action.[2]

Scene[edit]

The concept of a scene in written fiction has evolved over many years. Dwight V. Swain, in Techniques of the Selling Writer (1965) defined a scene as a unit of conflict, an account of an effort to attain a goal despite opposition. According to Swain, the functions of a scene are to provide interest and to move the story forward. The structure of a scene, as described by Swain, is (1) goal, (2) conflict, (3) disaster.[1]

In The Art of Fiction (1983), John Gardner described a scene as having an unbroken flow of action without a lapse of time or leap from one setting to another.[3] Over the years, other authors have attempted to improve on the definition of scene, and to explain its use and structure.[4][5][6][7][8]

Sequel[edit]

In addition to defining a scene, Swain described a sequel as a unit of transition that links two scenes, adding that a sequel functions to translate disaster into goal, telescope reality, and control tempo. Swain also described the structure of a sequel as (1) reaction, (2) dilemma, and (3) decision.[9] Other authors have attempted to improve on the definition of a sequel and to explain its use and structure.[10][11][12]

Proactive vs. reactive[edit]

Rather than viewing scenes and sequels as distinct types of passages, some authors express the concept as two types of scenes: proactive and reactive.[13][14]

Scenes and sequels[edit]

Swain defined, described, and explained scene and sequel as if they were separate entities, but then he explained that they must complement each other, linking together smoothly into a story. He went on to observe that

  • An author controls pacing by the way he proportions scene to sequel.
  • The peaks and valleys in a diagram of a story correspond to scenes and sequels.
  • Flexibility is important, versus a mechanical approach.[15]

Structural units of fiction[edit]

The structural units of fiction writing comprise all fiction.[16]

  • The smallest units of writing are words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and paragraphs.
  • Two or more paragraphs with some common purpose are referred to as passages or segments of writing.[17]
  • Scenes and sequels are specialized passages of writing. A scene is a passage of writing in which the character attempts to achieve a goal. A sequel is a passage of writing in which the character reacts reflectively to the previous scene.[18]
  • A chapter is a segment of writing delineated by a form of punctuation called a chapter break.[19] Prologue and epilogue are two specialized types of chapters.[16]
  • A chapter may include one or more sections, passages separated by another form of punctuation called a section break.[20]
  • Some novels, especially long ones, may be further divided into books or parts, each including two or more chapters.

Types of passages[edit]

Passages of writing may be classified into four groups: (1) scenes, (2) sequels, (3) passages that are neither scenes nor sequels, and (4) passages that include elements of both scenes and sequels. Examples of passages that are neither scenes nor sequels include fragments[21] of scenes or sequels and passages of narration, description, or exposition. An example of a passage that includes elements of both scenes and sequels is the problem-solving passage, common in mystery and detective stories.[22]

Types of scenes[edit]

Scenes may be classified by their position within the story (such as an opening scene or a climax scene). A scene may be classified by the fiction-writing mode that dominates its presentation (as in an action scene or a dialogue scene). Some scenes have specialized roles (such as flashback scenes and flashforward scenes).[23]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Swain, p. 84-85.
  2. ^ Swain, p. 96-100.
  3. ^ Gardner, p. 59.
  4. ^ Bickham, p. 23.
  5. ^ Klaassen, p. xxii.
  6. ^ Obstfeld, p. 2.
  7. ^ Rosenfeld, p. 5-6.
  8. ^ Scofield, p. 12.
  9. ^ Swain, p. 96, 100.
  10. ^ Bickham, p. 50-51.
  11. ^ Morrell, p. 84.
  12. ^ Klaassen, p. xxiv.
  13. ^ Marshall, p. 61, 63.
  14. ^ Ingermanson and Economy, p. 168, 170.
  15. ^ Swain, p. 113-115.
  16. ^ a b Klaassen, p. 3.
  17. ^ Scofield, p. 12-13.
  18. ^ Klaassen, p. 2.
  19. ^ Lukeman, p. 159.
  20. ^ Lukeman, p. 160.
  21. ^ Scofield, p. xvi.
  22. ^ Klaassen, p. 81-82.
  23. ^ Klaassen, p. 23.

References[edit]

  • Bickham, Jack M (1993). Scene and Structure: How to Construct Fiction with Scene-By-Scene Flow, Logic and Readability. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books. ISBN 0898795516
  • Gardner, John (1983). The Art of Fiction. New York, NY: Vintage Books/Random House. ISBN 0679734031
  • Ingermanson, Randy and Peter Economy (2010). Writing Fiction for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing. ISBN 9780470530702
  • Klaassen, Mike (2016). Scenes and Sequels: How to Write Page-Turning Fiction. Pensauken, NJ: Bookbaby. ISBN 9781682229071
  • Lukeman, Noah (2006). A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation. New York, NY: W. W. Norton and Company. ISBN 9780393329803
  • Marshall, Evan (1998). The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books. ISBN 0898798485
  • Morrell, Jessica Page (2006). Between the Lines: Master the Subtle Elements of Fiction Writing. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books. ISBN 9781582973937
  • Obstfeld, Raymond (2000). Novelist's Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books. ISBN 0898799732
  • Rosenfeld, Jordan E (2008). Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books. ISBN 9781582974798
  • Scofield, Sandra (2007). The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer. New York, NY: Penguin Books. ISBN 9780143038269
  • Swain, Dwight V (1965). Techniques of a Selling Writer. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 9780806111919