Scene Progression

Eddie Jones

April 20, 2021

Not that I do this with every novel, but when I have time, when I'm in my right mind or not too far into the Jesus Juice, I follow this simple formula for scene progression:

State the goal of your Lead at the beginning of each scene.

  • What does she want?
  • What does he need?
  • How does he plan to acquire the thing he wants?
  • What will she give up for the thing she wants?
  • This “want” is your Lead’s stake in the ground.

Promise pain through foreshadowing (tears, heartache, physical discomfort)

Deliver pain through action (show your Lead suffering)

Progress from:

  • Goal
  • Conflict
  • Disaster
    character development (growth)

Suspense is anticipation, so announce the reward for your Lead early in the scene. Restate your Lead’s goal as necessary. Halfway through is a good spot for reminders.

Never let your Lead relax for too long

Increase the risk of failure -- towards the end of the scene add-to the penalties for failure.

Tension comes from unresolved conflict so leave your character’s world messy.

Promise the payoff for that scene, then delay the payoff until later in the story.

Deliver some payoff, but not the thing your Lead sought at the beginning of the scene.

Like I mentioned, I don't follow this formula for every scene, but if I did I'd be a better writer. 

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