Scenes and sequels is a writing concept that I’ve not long become aware of, which is weird considering that it’s a pretty fundamental basic of writing. It’s also not particularly self-explanatory. Personally, I prefer to refer to this concept as proactive and reactive as I think that helps to explain it a little easier.
Essentially, this describes a basic way in which stories are structured at a very base level and it’s something that we do naturally all the time. Having said that, there is a level of complexity to it and you can use this structure to change quite a lot of how the story flows once you get to understand how it works.
These are your scenes that the characters are doing something. They have a previous goal or direction that they’re working towards. They may achieve this goal or they may not, that doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that your proactive scenes are exactly that; proactive. The character is doing something to achieve the goal.
Your characters have either reached the scene’s goal or they have failed, the reactive scene is when they react to that. They’ve achieved the scene’s goal but this opens up new goals for them to reach, or they didn’t reach the goal so they need to reassess, attack it in a different way and try again. This type of scene is when the characters aren’t really doing anything, they’re reacting to what’s happened before.
Arguably, the most important part of this structure is that it’s down to you to control how your proactive and reactive scenes flow together. And it’s important to know this doesn’t have to follow the traditional view of a scene. You can have a proactive or reactive scene that spans multiple chapters. Or both that resolve themselves in a single chapter. This is where your control of the structure helps to create a cohesive story that works. It’s about having the right amount of the proactive scenes reactive scenes so that there’s an overall balance to the story. And there isn’t a magic formula for that; you have to know your story and how it should flow.
© 2020 Davina Chime
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.