Structural Analysis of a Scene


 I am editing my current WIP and find this technique useful when I get stuck. It is clearly designed to work for a partial where you already have a story flow worked out, and you already know what each chapter has to do to earn its place in your novel – or screenplay.

Questions you have to ask about the scene.

  • Who is my viewpoint character or characters?
  • What does the hero want in this scene? Why are they here? Why now?
  • Who, or what, is going to block that want? How? = This links to All levels of Internal and External Conflict for that character. Psychological, Personal, Social, Physical.
  •  What are the turning points? How does the scene move and churn?
  • How does the whole scene turn from start to end?
  • What is the purpose of this scene – does it reveal something about the plot or the character?

The character – let’s call him Jake, is driving in winter in Alaska on a snow covered road in a hire car. Jake is on is way to his daughter’s 16th birthday party. He is divorced. He promised to be there and has flown in from Mexico just for the occasion. [ goal, motivation, internal conflict, location, timing.]

It is dusk, there are no road lights. A deer runs out from the dense forest, and he hits it. Car wrecked. Deer dead. He has no mobile phone signal. There is no other traffic on the road. He will have to walk to the ski lodge where his ex wife runs with her new husband. The big shot entrepreneur. [ Turning point = physical and environmental conflict, internal conflict]

He starts walking in light snow. Dressed for a party.

A car headlights are behind him. Great. A lift. Only the car speeds past, forcing him off the road and into the snow. [ scene has turned from comfort of car seat to cold and wet]


 Layering? Can the reader experience the intense cold of that night in the fading light – trees either side of the road, silent? Pine smell, the hot metallic smell of the blood from the deer?

Big Sigh. I clearly have lots to do.

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