Creating Scenes In A Short Story
Flash fiction & Short Stories from 500 to 7000 words.
I have written a few short stories, and I have plans to write more. One of my focus points while learning to write short stories has been scene creation.
This was a really big thing for me to get my head around. I wanted to really understand what is a scene and specifically what it needed to be for a shorter story.
So, I have been reading a lot. Here is what I have learned so far.
What is a scene?
A scene is a small moment or incident within a larger story that contributes to the overall movement and story end goal or story ARC. (Definition of story arc via Wikipedia.)
What makes a scene?
Three things MUST be present.
- A setting where the action takes place.
- A character with a deep personal need, goal, desire, or a situation they must take action in physically, emotionally (internally at times paired with consequence), or in dialogue with purpose.
- Scene movement that causes a small or bigger change that affects the story — character.
The problem needs to be strongly connected to the characters deep need/desire, or goal, or in opposition to it, which will motivate him to take action. (Character motivation/drive via Reedsy blog.)
In flash fiction, you have no room for backstory or even a lot of character development, so the sooner your character takes action the better.
In fact, you should start as close to the end of the story as you can and in the middle of the action if possible with flash fiction. (For more about flash fiction see my article here.)
What makes a good flash fiction piece?
To answer that question, we need to understand what flash fiction is about. It is a short story under 1000 words…
A short story of 3000 to 7000 word has a bit more room for character development and description, but backstory sparse, if any.
How do you know the scene has ended?
Something changed. That is it. It can be a series of changes or one small change. It depends on the size of your story and the goal of the scene planned in relation to your whole story.
If the time or location change that is definitely a scene change.
Does a scene have a story structure?
Every scene has a forward progression or what is the point? So I think yes, a scene should have a beginning-a goal, middle-a conflict, and end-a resolution or disaster, but a definite shift or change forward or backward related to the story being told.
My short stories tend to have four to eight scenes (500 to 1000 words scenes) to make up a 3000 to 4500-word count for a complete short story.
My flash fiction has one scene when I write 500 words. If I write up to 1000 words I may have one or two scene transitions geared toward the same end goal. (Definition of story transition via Wikipedia.)
Here is what you need to write a scene:
- Setting that is part of the character's world — the ordinary world or problem world.
- A character with a big need/desire — a goal/problem
- Conflict: Limited or no choices. Something that forces the character to take ACTION.
You need to have a setting that a character enters with a problem or is presented with a problem that he must take action on. It is a big enough problem he cannot ignore it. Whatever it is will force the character to act or react to it, even if he refuses to deal with it.
I hope this helped you get a better picture of scene function and creation. I appreciate the time you took to read my article. Thank you.
You can read some of Juneta’s flash fiction and short stories here.
How To Write Page-Turning Scenes Holly Lisle This is an affiliate link.
Other explanations of the scene. Articles I read and enjoyed. The links below are NOT affiliated links.