What is a Scene
Let's dive into the first question. What is a scene? Because as I said a minute ago, there is no such thing as a one-off scene. You cannot learn to write a one-off scene in a story. But that doesn't mean that you can't learn to write a scene, and this is the problem. Writers often learn to write a stand-alone scene, not part of a story, but it can be a beautiful, moving, wonderful, beautifully written scene all by itself, stand-alone scene, all by itself, it is great, it is beautiful, you wrote it, your writing group loved it. Your mom loved it, your mom cried when she read it, and she never cries when she reads anything. So you think, oh my God, this one scene I wrote, this is so beautiful, this is so good, this is so moving, it can't go to waste. I'm gonna put it in my story. And here's the problem. You put it in your story, and since the story is a cause and effect trajectory from beginning to end, you know what's gonna happen when you put it in the story? It is gonna stop your stor...
y cold. And here's what happens to those beautiful scenes that you wrote as one-offs. You put them into that story long cause and effect trajectory, you've stopped the story. The reader doesn't think it's beautiful. The reader thinks it's annoying, because you've stopped the story. So what is a scene, then? What is a scene, actually? A scene is a unit of story. The story gives birth to the scene, not the other way around. It is the cause and effect trajectory in your story that will give birth to the scene, give meaning to the scene, give urgency to the scene. But I wanna take it a little bit further, because just knowing that a scene is a unit of story can lead, sometimes, writers to think, okay, I got it, then, I hear what you're saying. I've heard people say that every scene needs to move the story forward. But the mistake they make is they think of the story as the plot, and they go okay, every scene needs to move the plot forward one step. So they start writing scenes, and every scene is I'm gonna meet this plot point and that plot point and that plot point and that plot point. And that, my friends, is how you end up with a bunch of things that happen. Because the truth is, as we are about to discuss, story is not about the plot. So if you write scenes and it's just plot point, plot point, plot point, plot point, what ends up happening is, is you've come, and writers will do this, I'm going to plot out my story. So they get this definite, external objective, cause and effect trajectory, and they drop characters into it, and then the goal of your characters is to make those plot points happen as quickly as possible, almost always. And what ends up happening is either they stay completely generic because their sole goal is to move the plot points forward, or more likely, they're going to make as little sense as the plot will end up making, because how do you know that a person who will make this plot point happen over here is actually, therefore, going to do the thing that they need to do to make that plot point happen there. So everything starts to not make sense, and that is how you end up with, again, say it with me, a bunch of things that happen.