The scene and sequel concept is nothing new in fiction and is a great way to ensure structure in your story and to keep it moving. Jim Butcher has refined the process and provided a working frame to set up the scene and sequel structure.
Distilled from these notes: http://www.rkathey.com/94/jim-butcher-on-writing
- follow a sub-pattern of stimulus-response: action-response
- where the action happens, where the conflict occurs, and where the consequences begin.
Point of View (PoV) – You tell the scene from the point of view of the person with the most to lose
Character’s Goal – What is the goal of the PoV character? The audience needs to know the goal. The goal is active, immediate, and important.
Conflict – What's stopping the character from reaching their goal? The antagonist should be the conflicting force as much as possible. You should be investing the antagonist's time.
Setback – There are four ways to end a scene: Will the protagonist succeed?
Yes – BORING!
Yes/But – Success but there are consequences.
No – Fails and must get a new goal. Great for showing determination but often leads to hard plot stops.
No and Furthermore – Not only does the character not succeed but there are new plot complications that arise as the result of the failure. Save this for critical points in the story.
- happen after scenes
- show the character’s reaction in the following order.
+ Emotion – “Oh my God I’ve been in a car crash!”. Emotion is what you feel first after a traumatic event.
- Logic – “Am I bleeding?” where the character activates his/her brain to evaluate the immediate situation.
- Review – “Am I late?” A review of the things that got them to the point of the trauma and the immediate effect of it.
- Anticipation – “What’s going to happen next? Will the car explode?” Anticipation is the character trying to figure out what might happen next.
+ Choice – What the character decides to do after the event.
The above reactions lead to a new goal and next scene.