How do you build a scene and a chapter in a story?

Home Forums Writer’s Digest Forum Tips and Advice How do you build a scene and a chapter in a story?

This topic contains 6 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  maxiuomc48 5 months, 3 weeks ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #346882

    maxiuomc48
    Participant

    Hi everybody. 🙂

    So I have been thinking about how to build a scene and a chapter in a story.

    How do you build your scenes and chapters in your stories?

    Is there some kind of structure you use to build your scenes and chapters?

    How do you decide when one scene ends and the next scene begins?

    How do you decide when one chapter ends and the next chapter begins?

    How many topics should you have in a scene or chapter?

    How do you decide when a scene or chapter starts to ramble or when a scene or chapter has gone on for too long?

    Any help is appreciated and thanks in advance. 🙂

  • #655762

    Anonymous

    This might be a bit vague, because it’s been a long, long time since I actually thought about the mechanics of writing this stuff 😕

    > Is there some kind of structure you use to build your scenes and chapters?
    >
    Um, not really. The scenes and chapters build on the previous events, following a character-based logic. Kind of like building a Lego structure without looking at the instructions.

    > How do you decide when one scene ends and the next scene begins?
    >
    When the information or insight the reader needs to know/understand has been conveyed. It might be the characters changing location, having a ‘heart to heart’ talk, a bit of introspection, plans being made for an attack – but it’s almost always something that makes the reader speculate about how that will affect what happens next or that gives them a small ah-ha moment. Once that’s accomplished, it’s time to move on to the next step/scene.

    > How do you decide when one chapter ends and the next chapter begins?
    >
    When I’ve set up the reader for the next phase of the story. One chapter – decision to attack, plans discussed, character reactions to the decision/plans. Now the reader knows what’s at stake and gets anxious to see how it plays out – they’re ready for the next chapter (the attack – or possible look at the adversary’s POV).

    > How many topics should you have in a scene or chapter?
    >
    I generally stick to one topic per chapter; each scene may have one or multiple topcs – they just have to fit the topic of the chapter.

    > How do you decide when a scene or chapter starts to ramble or when a scene
    > or chapter has gone on for too long?
    >
    When I realize I’m repeating myself or not adding anything essential to the thing (or the characters start glaring at me while tapping their collective feet impatiently).

  • #655763

    Anonymous

    I’m going to (I think) simplify what @ostarella said.

    Do what the story demands. A story is not a minute-by-minute retelling of some sequence of events. Although every “rule” of writing has exceptions.

    So… your story has to progress through some series of steps. Think of the Acts in a 3 or 5 act play. Each act represents some progression through the story. Chapters are similar. When has this particular phase or step of the story begun? That’s the beginning of a chapter. When does it complete? That’s the end.

    If you’re looking for hard and fast rules to this, you’re in for some major confusion. I don’t think they exist.

  • #655764

    jIPPity
    Participant

    I strongly suggest you read “Scene and Structure” by Jack M. Bickham. It’s available from WD books. It directly addresses exactly the questions you are asking.

    –Warren

  • #655765

    maxiuomc48
    Participant

    Thanks everybody. 🙂

  • #655766

    Anonymous

    Latest from Jane Friedman blog has something that might be helpful:

    https://www.janefriedman.com/writing-scenes-setup-payoff/

    In particular:

    “Other terms for this are setup and payoff. We’re always either setting up some moment or scene, or paying it off. Since scenes are the building blocks of narrative, we should always be writing scenes… It’s one piece of advice I don’t hesitate to give to give to my students. But for the advice to be practicable, the word “scene” must be understood to mean not just a dramatic incident characterized by action and dialogue, but background information regarding prior events and circumstances, physical descriptions, and other contextualizing matter necessary to support it: the setup… When I say, “Always be writing scene,” I mean always be aware of the dramatic moment you are leading your reader to, that is being prepared or setup through telling.”

  • #655767

    maxiuomc48
    Participant

    Thanks ostarella . 🙂

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.