The Writer’s Bag of Tricks

Scene and Sequel

What is a scene? A scene is a sequence of continuous action that takes place at a specific location and time in your story. There will probably be multiple scenes per chapter though there are writers who write one scene and sequel per chapter. The structure will probably be determined by the genre you are writing, and your own personal writing style.

When writing a scene, it is good to remember that the action should build from the scene goal, through the complications, to the scene climax. The structure of the scene is similar to your overall plot structure, just much smaller. When the result of the scene goal is known, then begins the sequel section.

The Scene and Sequel structure, placed one after another, written with your characters’ actions and reactions, and showing cause and effect, allows the story to move swiftly forward. Correctly used, Scene and Sequel can eliminate the dreaded information dump, the overuse of back-story, and story sections that drag. The structure focuses on the forward movement of the story.

The general structure of the Scene and Sequel consists of three parts to each section:


  • Goal-this should be solid enough so that it requires immediate action for your character to reach it. This is more than likely a stepping stone to the characters main goal. It could also be the goal to get away from the antagonist, or a new plan after earlier failures, etc.
  • Conflict-this is what forces your character to move forward, and it should have a winner and a loser. Whatever the external conflict depicted in the scene is, it must be a clear and logical obstacle to the goal above.
  • Disaster-this is the roadblock that keeps your character from achieving the goal. You never want it to be easy on your characters. This new disaster should always make sense and be pertinent to what is going on in the scene. Disaster is the hook that makes the reader turn the page.


  • Reaction-now that your character has lived through this disaster, there is a physical and emotional reaction. This includes your character’s internal conflict. This is where you allow your character to muse, and feel. The sequel also slows down the pace because it is focused on the internal action rather than the external action and allows your reader to catch their breath and care about your character.
  • Dilemma-this is where your character goes through their internal Wikipedia to look at all the options, and/or tries to rationalize those options, and comes up with a new plan.
  • Decision-there can be only one possible decision that logically works for the scene. Whatever your character decides as the next best action plan is the decision. And this decision also gives you the goal of the next scene. It’s a good cycle.

If you use Scene and Sequel when you are working out your story structure, you will find that you are able to outline must faster. The Scene and Sequel may change when you get to actually writing, but you will definitely know where your story is going in any give chapter, and that knowledge can allow your subconscious to fly.

Next: No post next week. I will be doing my thing at Colorado Gold.

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