Presented by David J Normoyle
What is a scene?
It generally takes place in a single setting and has one viewpoint character. Commonly a scene will advance the story, show conflict and develop the characters.
Why write in scenes?
Older books are more likely to have an omniscient narrator telling the story to the reader. These days, readers are used to movies. They want to be shown not told. They want more immediacy, more action. Writing in scenes forces this. It takes place now. Every story will have some scenes but you can write your story wholly as a series of scenes.
How to write in scenes?
Ideally, each scene is a mini story with its own hook to get the reader involved, then it has some conflict to drive the scene and it finishes with a resolution or cliffhanger.
Don't begin with: "Vampires have lived amoung us for thousands of years." Start with: "Anna caressed his cool pale cheek."
You don't have to get up, eat breakfast and brush you teeth before meeting the neighbour with the interesting information. Just start the scene talking to him. Transition to the next scene by just jumping into it.
There will be things that happen between scenes. In that case, let the information be revealed in one of the later scenes, through thoughts or dialogue. If several plot points are revealed in one place, that'll add to the strength of the scene.
Exercise on writing scenes
So, in the course of my latest novel, I have been transforming the narrative of ancient myths into scenes. Here's an exercise for workshopees.
Imagine the below narrative of Persephone and Hades as a series of short scenes. (No more than four)
What's the location of each scene?
Who's the POV character in each scene?
What happens in each scene?
How do you get across the action/information (if any) that is between scenes?
Persephone was innocently picking flowers with some nymphs in a field when Hades abducted her in his chariot.
Persephone's mother, Demeter, the Goddess of the Earth searched desperately for her lost daughter all over the world. She neglected the earth, and in the depth of her despair, she caused nothing to grow.
Finally, Zeus, pressed by the cries of the starving people, forced Hades to return Persephone. However, it was a rule of the Fates that whoever consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. Before Persephone was released to Hermes, Hades tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds, which forced her to return to the underworld for a period each year.
Thus, every year when Demeter and her daughter are reunited, the Earth flourishes with vegetation and color, but when Persephone returns to the underworld, Demeter mourns and the earth once again becomes a barren realm. This explains the seasons.
I'll put my own breakdown of the above scene in a comment later and I'll continue with a checklist for writing and reviewing your scenes.