The Scene-Sequel structure looks like this:. SCENE —1. Scene ——A. The main character in the scene has a Goal. The main character has a Conflict which threatens that goal. The conflict may be with herself, other characters, or forces of nature.

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The Scene-Sequel structure looks like this:. SCENE —1. Scene ——A. The main character in the scene has a Goal. The main character has a Conflict which threatens that goal. The conflict may be with herself, other characters, or forces of nature.

The main character suffers a Setback. Sequel ——A. The main character thinks about this Problem. The main makes a Decision on how to react to the setback.

This has nothing to do with the other two! Scene : A Goal-Conflict-Setback unit. The Scene-Sequel structure seems like a good default structure. Buy the books, or google scene and sequel, if you want to read about its merits. Bickham says you should present the components in order, clearly spelled out to the reader, and then on finishing the Sequel, jump immediately into another Scene. Doing this makes it more likely you will write forgettable pot-boilers like Jack Bickham did.

Have any of the people quoting him read his books? They lack theme, insight into human nature, or, well, anything other than one damn thing after another. Twister contained many omniscient-viewpoint scenes describing weather and storms which had no characters at all.

This rarely happens in the wild. Rather, a complete goal-conflict-etc. SCENE is spread across multiple scenes. Each scene may contain numerous small, usually incomplete goal-conflict-etc. More or less. A Scene-Sequel structure may split across chapters, particularly with cliffhangers. The formula is written for a single-protagonist story. Goal, Setback, and Decision are often either absent or hidden. POV restrictions often prevent the Goal from being stated.

Other things happen to affect the goal stack, such as fortuitous assistance or discoveries, or goal changes. It has more protagonists and fewer antagonists, and so it may have several main characters in one SCENE. It has fewer decisions, in part because the setback may pass unnoticed by the main character, and because more characters drift from scene to scene without direction, or carried along by forces beyond their control.

It has more dialogue and less action. And each character in the story has enough psychological depth to need their own goals, reactions, etc. This structure, when used, should probably apply to every character present. Bickham says all the elements must be explicit and occur in that order; it appears that literary fiction requires this not to be the case.

If a narrative section resembles Scene-Sequel structure, some part of it must be implicit or hidden until later. The elements occur in chronological order within the story world, but may be presented in a different order. Hence the protagonist has no conscious Goal and so there are few places within that chapter with all the parts of this Scene-Sequel structure.

The bulk of the chapter is Reaction and Problem, showing how Frankie feels, and how she struggles to grasp her situation. I try The Last Unicorn. There are goals and conflicts and disasters, but they are distributed among the characters.

Who is the protagonist? The unicorn? The story opens with a long description of a hobbit-hole. Gandalf scratches a sign on his door, and dwarves begin arriving. There is none; there is an Opportunity, a re-evaluation, a Discovery that Bilbo has some Took longing for adventure within him. Rather than trying to defend his Goal of quiet respectability, he decides to set it aside for a while. Diving right into a conflict in chapter 1 might have kept more readers reading, but I think the way I did it makes it a better story for those who stayed with it.

It is certainly not, as its advocates claim, a formula that you need only iterate enough times in order to produce a good book. Instead of a Setback, you may have an Opportunity which leads to abandoning a Goal. And the Goals may not be true Goals at all; a significant part of the novel may be the characters trying to understand what their Goals really are.

What motivates my reader to keep reading? Unfortunately, like most bad writing advice, Scene-Sequel theory is infiltrating the writing community and will inevitably change our expectations and conventions so that scene-sequel stories seem better to us, just as sentences without speech tags now seem natural when they were initially merely bad prescriptivist grammar.

Would it have been written this way before Bickham, or would the writers have given us something with a little more structure? I really appreciate this analysis. Does Donna Tartt The Goldfinch think about this?

Do any literary writers think about this? Is this strictly for genre fiction? Like Like. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email.

Notify me of new posts via email. Watch out! Here are the big problems I see with scene-sequel theory: 1. Share this: Twitter Facebook. Like this: Like Loading Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:.

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Scene & Structure

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Scene and Structure

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