What are scenes?
Scenes add energy and interest to your stories.”
We all love stories. From the campfire to the silver screen, storytelling has been used for education and enjoyment for eons. Scenes are mini-stories that when stitched together, tell the overall story of your main character striving towards a goal.
The elements of a scene include:
- Protagonist – has the most dramatic need in the scene.
- Antagonist – a character (or force e.g., nature) opposed to the dramatic need.
- Pivotal character – can be for or against the protagonist’s goal.
- Dialogue – words, body language, tone.
- Subtext – suppressed emotions.
- Context – what happened before and the environment and action of the story.
Why are scenes important?
Storytelling has long been used to teach. The use of characters that people can identify with, embarking on an emotional journey, ensures key points are absorbed. A good scene supports the overall story and has a clear purpose and structure.
The purpose of a scene drives the story forward or reveals something about a character.
The structure of a scene, like the overall story, should have a beginning, middle, and end, and contain key elements of context, characters, dialogue, and action.
The scene must play an essential role in the story. If it’s not and can be seen as ‘filler content’, cut it out! You must always ask questions of your scene to ensure it’s not boring or irrelevant.
How can I use scenes?
When writing your scenes, justify its inclusion, build a clear structure, and identify when some elements need to be limited or excluded from use.
Questions to ask to justify your scene include:
- Does it move the story forward?
- How does it reveal character?
- Whose scene is it?
- Who has the most dramatic need in the scene?
- Does it reveal a character’s wants vs needs?
- Is there surprise. Does it reveal something or character?
In a learning context, scene writing can be applied to interactive scenarios. The structure of these scenes will start with the context of a problem to be solved (tied to a learning objective). A series of choices can then deepen the tension, consequences are faced, and either the goal is reached or a lesson is learnt.
An element that you might want to limit in scenario writing is using subtext. Subtle use of suppressed emotion, tone, and body language does have the risk of being misinterpreted so use these tools with care.