Creating a public display of emotion is one way to describe “making a scene.” We’ve all been there, usually as onlookers, occasionally as participants. Most often, public spectacles are spontaneous, but scenes on paper are anything but. Particularly in the early stages of the writing process, scenes require considerable planning and forethought. In The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer, author Sandra Scofield defines scenes as “those passages in narrative when we slow down and focus on an event in the story so that we are ‘in the moment’ with characters in action.” If the scene is compelling enough, the reader becomes a bystander of sorts, and characters come to life.
Anyone who writes short stories, novellas, novels, memoirs, screenplays or dramatic plays must be proficient at creating compelling scenes. Think about it: All the significant moments in any narrative get conveyed through scene. Scenes are the building blocks of narrative, regardless of the form that narrative takes. If the event or moment is significant in the life of the story, chances are you will develop it through scene. What’s less important tends to be summarized.