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Chapter 4: Plotting: Scenes, Sequels, and Narrative

Novel Sequels

Melissa Ford Lucken

In the context of novel writing, the “scene sequel” refers to a specific narrative structure that follows the main scene in a novel. It consists of three key components: reaction, dilemma, and decision.


The reaction phase occurs immediately after the main scene or event. It focuses on the emotional and psychological response of the protagonist to the events that unfolded in the preceding scene. The reaction phase allows the reader to delve into the character’s internal thoughts, feelings, and reflections regarding what has just happened. It provides insight into the character’s emotional state, their initial interpretation of the events, and the impact it has on their goals, beliefs, or motivations. This phase may involve introspection, dialogue with other characters, or even physical reactions.


The dilemma phase follows the reaction and involves the protagonist facing a dilemma or a challenge related to the events of the preceding scene. The dilemma presents a conflict or a difficult choice that the character must grapple with. It adds tension and raises stakes for the character, as they must confront a decision or a problem that requires careful consideration. The dilemma can arise from conflicting desires, moral quandaries, external obstacles, or internal struggles. It serves as a bridge between the preceding scene and the subsequent actions of the character.


The decision phase is the culmination of the scene sequel. The protagonist makes a choice or takes action in response to the dilemma they faced. This decision propels the story forward and leads to the next scene or sequence of events. The decision should reflect the character’s growth, their evolving goals, or a response to the challenges presented. It sets the stage for the next scene, introducing new conflicts or developments that will shape the narrative trajectory.

The scene sequel is an essential component of the novel’s pacing and structure. It provides a moment of reflection and introspection for the character, deepening their development and allowing the reader to connect with their internal struggles. It also introduces tension and raises stakes by presenting the character with a dilemma, prompting a significant decision that will influence the course of the story.

By incorporating scene sequels into their writing, novelists can effectively structure their narrative, provide depth to their characters, and maintain a compelling story arc that keeps readers engaged and invested in the protagonist’s journey.


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Novel Sequels by Melissa Ford Lucken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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