Ensure The Purpose of A Scene Is Engaging Your Readers

A great scene makes your reader feel an emotion.

What Is A Scene?

A scene is a section of your novel where a character or characters engage in action or dialogue. You can think of a scene as a story with a beginning, middle, and an end.

Usually, you’ll start a new scene when you change the point of view character, the setting, or the time. You may start a new scene if the scene your working on is too long to fit the structure of your manuscript.

Fictionary will take you through the process of evaluating each scene in your novel.

The Purpose of a Scene

The first question in my post Top 3 Story Editing Questions For Fiction Writers was “What is the purpose of a scene?”

I’d like to share my thoughts in more detail.

The purpose of the scene must relate to the overall story. If it’s not driving the story forward, then ask yourself what is the point of including the scene in your novel.

Here are some examples of the way the purpose of a scene can drive the story forward. You can choose one of these to define your purpose or come up with your own definitions.

  • Build suspense
  • Character development
  • Character Introduction
  • Climax
  • Establish mood
  • Establish setting
  • Inciting Incident
  • Intensify Conflict
  • Move the story forward
  • Plot point 1
  • Plot point 2
  • Resolution (after climax)

How Purpose Of A Scene Helps With Other Elements Of Fiction

I articulate the purpose of the scene early in my story editing, so I can address other elements of the scene and test if they are in line with the purpose.

Let’s say you fill out the list of objects in a scene. You can weigh the objects against the purpose of the scene and see if there is a way to use them to further the purpose. This goes for revelations, tension, conflict, weather, etc. Basically, every scene element can be tested against the scene purpose.

After you whittle down the purpose of a scene to a few words, one of three things will happen.

  1. You’ve got the purpose nailed, and you understand why this scene is included in your novel.
  2. You have a weak purpose, but there is still some value in the scene.
  3. You have no idea what the purpose is.

So you’ve got the purpose nailed. Yay! Move on to the next scene.

If the point of the scene is weak, see if you can take what is important in a scene and move it to another scene, then delete the weak scene. You can also enhance the scene to give it a stronger purpose.

If you can’t articulate the purpose of a scene, think about removing the scene.


The Fictionary Finish Your Novel Contest.

Fictionary FYNC

Fictionary is designed for the serious author who wants to produce a high-quality manuscript.

To encourage you to finish your novel and get published, we’ve partnered with FriesenPress and are hosting a contest together.

Grand Prize

One lifetime Fictionary subscription and a $1999 FriesenPress Publishing Package.

Additional Prizes

$200 annual Fictionary subscription for 3 lucky writers!

Check out the details and enter the contest.

Winners are chosen at random. No purchase necessary. Entrants accepted until February 18th, 2018.

Fictionary is a proud sponsor of the National Novel Writing Month Now What Months.

Ensure The Purpose of A Scene Is Engaging Your Readers


12 thoughts on “Ensure The Purpose of A Scene Is Engaging Your Readers

  1. I found this a really useful article. I’m just coming up to the last quarter of my WIP and I shall have this advice ringing in my head when it comes to editing. What is the purpose of this scene? Great! Thanks so much.


  2. I find that sometimes the most atmospheric scenes are the ones that build up to the action themselves. Like in one novel I wrote immediately prior to the action at a birthday party, I had the characters driving to the house where it took place. I thought that was pretty atmospheric to have night falling as they did because it really led up to what happened next. When setting the scene imagining yourself there as the action is taking place, is always the best way to set it.

    Liked by 1 person

Thank you for commenting!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s