Scene and Sequel


Written on Friday, November 20, 2009 by haleigh

In my previous post, I talked about every scene having a goal and a subsequent conflict in your protagonist achieving that goal. That's true--except for the "reaction" scene, or the sequel. Dwight Swain, in his amazing book, Techniques of a Selling Writer, introduces the idea of a sequel to a scene, a time for the characters to react, face their new delimna, and decide how to act. Their decision to act inherently propells forward another scene, following by another sequel...etc.

In the sequel scenes, then, there isn't a need for a particular conflict for the protagonist character. Instead, the decision they make about the new obstacle they face creates the next conflict they will face.

So while sequel scenes don't protray a conflict, they set up the next conflict, and they can also frame the next conflict and connect it back to your overall story/core conflict.

For more info on Scene and Sequel, check out Dwight Swain's book or this site.

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  1. Jessica |

    Scene and sequel... it feels like a math problem to me. LOL

  2. Melissa Johnson |

    I've been thinking a lot about the pacing in the mid section of my WIP. It seems like a big section is one long argument and scene and sequel is probably what will fix things. In a blog on this topic by Gail Gaymer Martin she says, "Even though you show the hero’s reaction as he responds to the heroine’s issues in her scene, you don’t really know what’s going on in his head until the sequel provides that information." Ah ha. Time for some reflection. The link is

  3. Suzette Saxton |

    Ahhh... thank you! This is just what I needed to read today. I have been thinking in terms of the overall goal of my WIP and feeling a bit overwhelmed... I love the idea of small goals for each scene.

    :-x Thanks for solving my dilemma!

  4. Anonymous |

    Hey are you a professional journalist? This article is very well written, as compared to most other blogs i saw today….
    anyhow thanks for the good read!

  5. cam |

    Jessie - it does feel like a math problem! LOL! I think it's one of those things that are helpful in revision, but just wrap my head in knots if I try to think about it during a first draft.

  6. cam |

    Hey Melissa, thanks for the link! This is why I love third person - the ability to swap and see in the other person's head. I never thought of that in terms of scene and sequel, but you're totally right - it's the perfect time to switch POVs

  7. cam |

    Hey Suzette! Glad I could help!

  8. cam |

    Annon 9:34 -

    Thanks! I'm not a journalist, but I do write academic text-books on Conflict Resolution. Glad you like the blog - I hope to be updating much more frequently from now on.

  9. TerriOsburn |

    I'd swear I've been checking over here, but I guess not. And I'm missing all these great blogs! (Love the new look!)

    This is one of those things where I've heard about it and even attended workshops about it, but then I forget. Thankfully, I usually have these scenes anyway.

    I have learned so much about the real techniques of writing lately, I'm going to have to sit down after the first and work it all out. I'm getting to be more of a plotter every day!

    Now I'll have to remember to keep checking over here to learn more. Thanks for sharing all this great info.

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    You are a very smart person!

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