Putting It All Together: Scene & Sequel

OK. So, we know what a scene is. And we know what a sequel is. Now, let’s see how they work together.

Scene: Our protagonist has a date and he wants to make strawberry shortcake for dessert because he knows that’s his date’s favorite. He’s just going to the store a few miles away to get strawberries so he leaves his cellphone at home. On his way to the store, he is forced to take a detour. The detour gets long and starts leading him away from the supermarket so he decides to pull down a dirt road and turn around. However, his car slips on the dirt road and a tire gets stuck in a ditch.

Sequel: Stuck in the ditch, he gets out and assesses his situation. He’s frustrated and a bit anxious because he’s never really been down this road before and it’s somewhat remote. He considers his options: hitchhike back to the main road and walk home, walk up the dirt road and try to find a house to use their phone for a tow truck, or go into the nearby forest to find some sturdy branches to make a fulcrum and lever to dislodge his car.

Hitchhiking can be dangerous and there’s no guarantee a car will come along to offer him a ride. There’s also no guarantee that the dirt road goes anywhere or that there’ll be a house along it. This leaves him with his only option: find a fulcrum and lever.

This line of thought leads him into the woods. So, what does he find in the forest? Is this where his life takes a dramatic turn? Suppose he comes across something exotic like a cave, an abandoned house, or even a mysterious figure who knows his name and offers some cryptic advice? All of that is covered in the next scene but we’ve set it up, haven’t we? This is where the adventure really begins. The inciting incident–getting stuck in the ditch–has yanked our protagonist out of his normal everyday world and forces adventure upon him.

Moreover, we need to consider when his date will arrive. Is he going to be late? Will the date not occur? Will he get the strawberries or not? Will the external super-objective change? Anything can happen from here.

Together, this scene and sequel create a single chapter. This isn’t always the case, but this is a good way to structure chapters if you’re writing a novel.

Shriek into the Void...

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