Begin and End Scenes with Conflict

A word on content and it cannot be overstated: every scene should begin and end with conflict. It might be subtle, or it could be aggressive. Nevertheless, if a conflict does not exist, then the scene is unnecessary to the story and should be eliminated. One or more characters should experience some form of change at the end of the scene, which might be physical, mental, or emotional. It is the conflict that causes the change. And that change can be good or bad for the character, positive or negative.

The protagonist and changes in the characters push the story forward. Whenever possible, enter a scene late and get out of it fast before it is over. Do not draw out scenes. Constantly trim them to their absolute necessary length. Let it accomplish its purpose, then move on as quickly as possible.

Looking ahead to act one, there is a crucial element for which the writer must plan. It is the Inciting Incident, which is the point in the story in which the protagonist’s world is upset, the status quo changes, and he or she faces an unanticipated problem. The Inciting Incident is the event that shifts the protagonist from their act one goal to their act two goal. It is that which causes the disruption in the protagonist’s world to the point that his or her life changes from the norm and they take action that moves the plot forward. It is the catalyst for everything that happens in the story.