Ending a scene is just as critical as its beginning. How you choose to close can set the tone for what follows, affect pacing, and either satisfy or intrigue your reader. As you approach the conclusion of a scene, it’s beneficial to pause and assess its effectiveness and purpose.
Five pivotal questions to ask at the end of every scene:
1. Has the scene achieved its purpose?
Every scene should have a clear purpose. Whether it’s to advance the plot, delve deeper into a character’s motivations, or showcase a critical piece of backstory – it’s crucial to ensure the scene has met its objectives. If the scene veers off into unnecessary tangents or doesn’t fulfil its intended function, you might need to revisit and refine it.
2. How does the scene affect the overall pacing?
Pacing is the rhythm of your story. Some scenes might speed things up with action and tension, while others slow things down with introspection or description. Consider how your scene fits into the larger pacing of your story. Does it feel too rushed? Too slow? Or does it hit the right tempo, keeping readers engaged?
3. Does the scene provide a sense of closure or raise new questions?
A scene can either resolve a particular issue or raise new questions, leading the reader into the next part of the story. Reflect on what your scene does. If it’s meant to answer questions, does it do so satisfactorily? If it’s intended to pique curiosity, does it effectively tease what’s to come?
4. How does the scene set up the next one?
Scenes shouldn’t feel isolated; they should weave into the broader tapestry of your narrative. Think about how your scene leads into the next. Does it create a smooth transition? Is there a clear, logical progression in terms of action, theme, or character development? Setting up the subsequent scene doesn’t mean ending on a cliffhanger every time, but there should be a coherent link.
5. Have the characters undergone any change or growth?
Even subtle shifts in a character’s attitude, understanding, or situation can provide depth and progression to a story. Examine the characters central to the scene and determine if they’ve experienced any form of change, whether it’s a major revelation or a minor shift in perspective.
Reflecting for stronger scenes
Taking a moment to ask these questions at the end of each scene can help fine-tune your narrative, ensuring each scene is not just a sequence of events but a meaningful part of your story’s structure. By routinely reflecting on these aspects, you can craft scenes that are both individually compelling and harmoniously integrated into the overarching narrative.