Posted by: anitanolan | March 22, 2010

Writing in Scenes- Part I

Scenes are the building blocks of a novel.  Each scene is a small story within the novel’s bigger story.

If you add enough related scenes together, you’ll have a book.  It might not be a good book, of course.  That depends on a whole lot more than how many scenes you have.

While almost all novels are broken into scenes, there’s no one way to write a manuscript.

I write in scenes.  I think in scenes.  Before I start writing a manuscript, I think about a logical and interesting beginning and end of not only the manuscript.  I also try to create a chapter by chapter outline for the book.  I try to figure out a high stakes ending for as many chapters as possible.  I don’t know what will happen in every scene, and I add, subtract, and move around scenes as I go, but I have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen in every chapter.

Not everyone does this.  One of my critique partners doesn’t break her manuscript into scenes and chapters until she’s written the entire manuscript.  It’s one of things she does last.  Others write the scenes they know first and fill in around those scenes after they have their main scenes written.

There’s no one right way to write a manuscript, but however it’s done and whenever you break yours into scenes and chapters, know there are several things a scene must contain.

Tomorrow:  What a Scene Should Contain


  1. Anita,
    Just what I needed today. I will try adding more structure to my scenes. Thanks for the advice. I’ll be back tomorrow.

    • Glad it helped, Barb!


  2. […] Anita Nolan has been doing a series on writing in scenes, with part 1 on how to write with scenes, part 2 on the elements of a scene and part 3 on scene […]

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