Scenes and Sequels


We usually think of a sequel as a second movie. But in the case of fiction writing it’s the follow-up scene. We’re used to watching movies and TV shows. These dramas are made up of scenes and sequels. It’s helpful to think in these terms while writing your stories. A scene is what happens and a sequel is your character’s reaction to what happened. This happened and so this followed. Here’s an example:

Scene: Jack sat at the bar drinking beer.
“Hey Jack, how’s it going?”
“Not too bad”
Mike looked around at all the women in the bar. “I could get any
one of these women to go home with me”
“No it’s true. I have a 100% success rate”
Jack just listened as Mike went on and on about his escapades with
women that he had taken home in the past.
Later that night Mike saw Jack still sitting at the bar. He waved at him
as he escorted Jack’s sister Angie out of the bar.

Sequel: Jack got up from the bar and went immediately outside. Jack caught up
with Mike and Angie. Jack struck Mike with his fists one punch after another.
Angie screamed for Jack to stop.
Mike was holding his hands to his face. “What pissed you off?”
“She’s my sister, asshole!”

If you’ve mapped out plot points, you can move from one plot point to another with scenes and sequels. There is so much temptation to tell instead of show. And there is temptation to tell too soon. As you work through plot points you may need to rearrange them so you don’t give away too much too soon. Have your character discover details rather than simply providing them to your reader.
If you can get your hands on an old book called “Techniques of the Selling Writer” by Dwight V. Swain published by University of Oklahoma, it’s an excellent source. Mr. Swain will help you understand scenes and sequels. I was fortunate enough to hear him speak at a conference in 1990. He graciously signed my copy.
Have fun creating your stories using scenes and sequels.


2 responses to “Scenes and Sequels

  1. I frequently think of sequels in terms of movies or what’s going to happen in the next book. It’s not to shift perspective and view it as something else, to view the novel as a series of scenes and sequels. I’ll have to check out the book you mentioned. I noticed it’s an older novel. Obviously the answer will be favorably, but how do you feel it relates to writing today?

    • I see using the idea of scenes and sequels in your story telling as a method to keep the action flowing. Swain describes the scene as easy as a-b-c a.goal b.conflict c.disaster. He describes a sequel as a 1-2-3 structure. 1.reaction 2.dilemma 3.decision. This method helps the writer create conflict and control the pacing of the story.

Leave a Reply

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

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s