You want your reader’s attention in the very first sentence. Characters are vivid with reality writing in the present time. Characters grow through change in your narrative. Scenes are illuminated through the point of view they are seen in. Reality action is memorable bringing the story forward. Dialogue reveals new plot information with actions of the characters in described motion. Individual characters though conflict and trials with action come alive. Readers enter and live in the scene with all of their senses that the characters and physical setting create.
Dramatic tension can be linked to conflict and involve the reader with interest. Scene subtext builds layers of emotion through images. Character actions have purpose and profound ways to change characters through drama. With pacing and length, you control the kind of emotion your scenes have. Telling is the narrative summary of explanation, a participation that is kept to a minimum. If it can’t be used in present dialogue it is summary. Showing is where the character enhances reading through involvement in action, thought and dialogue with specific details.
Scene sections and chapter breaks offer the reader a chance to pause. A long scene after intense dialogue or action can slow the pace. This allows the protagonist or reader to reflect on what has happened building toward the next scene. Action and reactions in scenes can be extended with dialogue. If what you are writing can be used in dialogue you are writing a scene. Long scenes should be interspaced with short scenes.
Short scenes provide new information picking up pace and advancing the plot. With less time than a longer scene they can clarify one characters action’s from another. Main characters with more involvement get longer scenes. Shorter scenes can give pieces of information, create suspense, or be a cliff hanger. They can be used for multiple scenes within a chapter. Spaced throughout long scenes they can influence but not interrupt the plot.
Scenes have a beginning, middle and end. Beginning the scene draws your reader’s interest into whose scene it is and what they want, close to the middle or central action. Middle of the scene raises the steaks higher with suspense, tension levels, conflict with reaction and some resolution. Scene endings weave interesting story lines to prompt reading the next scene.
The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall has the number of scenes in a book based on the books length. A 100,000 word novel has 80 scenes in it. Twenty scenes in act one, 40 scenes in act two, and 20 scenes in act three. The Marshall formula scenes are around 1250 words long.