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Scenes have a distinct structure with an entrance and an exit.

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Like the overall structure of your story, each scene as a shape as well. It needs to reflect an element of the story and connect in to the previous and succeeding scene.

  • Scenes have a distinct structure and to keep this structure they should be planned in advance.
  • Scenes have an entrance and exit point, so as well as planning what will happen, plan how this scene will link to the previous scene and how it will segue into the next.


Audio From Kim Wilkins – Scenes and Their Shape


Listen as Kim talks about how to structure scenes including their openings and endings. Listen or download the audio below for this week’s lesson on strategies for structuring your scenes.

Don’t forget to download the audio notes below too (available in PDF format) before you listen to this week’s lesson so you can take notes.



PDF (right click and ‘Save As’): Audio Notes – Lesson 12 – Scenes And Their Shape

Use this document to organise your notes while listening to the ‘Scenes and their shape’ audio


Scenes have an entrance and exit. They have a way in and a way out.



– Avoid boring scene openings – i.e the weather.

– Entice the reader in.

– Avoid repetition.

– Open scenes with dialogue, interesting action.

– Be careful with settings.



– Beware the uncomfortable cutoff.

– Round off each scene.

– Pull the reader forward (Choose what’s appropriate for your genre).

– Put the scene with the most dramatic ending, at the end of the chapter.



– Make notes about where the scene starts in terms of setting, notes about what will happen in the scene and how it will end.

– Plan a chapter in advance.

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red avatar 5EXERCISE: Shaping A Scene

Take a scene idea and develop an opening line, an ending line, and ideas for the middle.



  1. Working with your group (assigned by your tutor), choose one of the following scene ideas.
  2. Develop the idea so that it has an opening line, a closing line and a few notes about what happens in the middle.
  3. Work on the scenes on the forum as a group (In the Group 1 Forum, Group 2 Forum or Group 3 Forum respectively) and then post your agreed upon scene to the Shaping A Scene Forum for everyone else to read.

Scene Ideas

  • 17 year old Jamie deliberately eavesdrops on his parent’s conversation with a solicitor, to find out how much they intend to leave him in their will.
  • Evie phones the crime boss she suspects is holding her sister hostage, to lure him into meeting with her.
  • Annalisa’s first kill as a vampire goes very badly.
  • Old Mrs Benson prepares for a storm on her outback property.
  • Skarp finally arrives at the legendary Lost City of Diamonds.
  • Crazy Lola decides the So You Think You Can Dance audition is her chance to get famous at last.

4. After each group has posted their scene, come back and rate each of the posted scenes, and include some brief evaluative comments, focusing on the positives, but also making note of one way in which you think the scene could be improved.

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