What’s a chapter? What’s a scene?

What’s a scene?
The simplest scene takes place in one location, one setting, at one point in time and all of this is from one characters point of view (POV). A more complicated scene might take place in multiple settings over multiple periods in time and even more then one POV, but that’s seriously complicating matters.

The most important thing is to grab the readers attention right from the start and then keep hold of it for the length of the scene and to make sure your scene has a purpose. Describing something, a bit of exposition, build suspense or express emotion. What they scene is trying to portray will then determine it’s length. A short scene will result in a faster paced story, where as longer scenes will slow things down. Usually descriptive or exposition scenes will be shorter and more in-depth emotional or suspenseful scenes will be longer.

Finally, scenes should begin and end with a hook and each scene should segue into the next one. Perhaps the scene will end with the character in a worsening situation and the next scene will begin with a change for the better (or worse). It might be the characters working out their next course of action. You want to keep the reader invested in the story, show the characters goals or plans to improve their situation so they reader keeps reading to see if things go as planned or fail miserably.

Scenes can also be categorised as Head scenes or Tail scenes. In a head scene you are looking for three things:

1) Goal
2) Conflict
3) Disaster

In a tail scene you are looking for three different things:

1) Reaction
2) Dilemma
3) Decision

You can read further on what these six points expand out to here, along with a bunch of other hints and tips on writing scenes.

So, what’s a chapter then?

A chapter is made up of one or more scenes and should always end with a hook, something that makes the reader want to keep reading. They should be forced to put down the book and be filled with anticipation until they can pick it back up again.

I recall reader somewhere that every character, in every chapter, wants something. You have to work out what it is that the characters want, how they want to achieve their desire and whether or not they get it.

Right now I’m working on a sort of scene by scene method for my NaNoWriMo novel, but I’m not sure how successful I’m being right now. I’ve broken my hero’s journey down into scenes, some of them are short and some long. Many of them have been broken up into more then one scene as I’ve furthered the plot. I’m struggling right now with the “hooks”, I’m kind of hoping that once I finish getting that first draft out I’ll be able to go back and edit out the rubbish, tighten up the scenes and get the hooks sorted out.

The main objective is to just get those 50,000 words down and the story flowing.

However, today my brain is not functioning and I’m going to end my writing attempts here for today and hope tomorrow improves.

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