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How does 'Type of scene' means?

In fiction, scenes are the smallest unit of the plot. They are normally composed of a character or group of characters, a specific setting and a series of related actions.

Besides, scenes can be classified into 3 categories: action scenes, reaction scenes or setup scenes. Knowing when to use one or the other will help you to structure your stories and gain proficiency when it comes to dealing with narrative tension.

That being said, let’s take a closer look at each type of scene:


Action Scenes

This label doesn’t mean that there must be a fight, explosions or the like. The word ‘action’ implies that something is about to happen or, to put it another way, that the protagonist (or any other character) DO something in order to reach their goals.

Let me take as a example the detective who visits a suspect he wants to question; or the hero who takes karate lessons because he has decided to win the final battle against his enemy. What you have to keep in mind is that in action scenes you’ll always find a character acting with some purpose.

Most scenes are in fact action scenes in order for the plot to unfold and keep the readers/spectators engaged. However, if all scenes belonged to this category, the story’s pace would be exhausting. That’s why reaction and setup scenes are also present.


Reaction Scenes

This category shows the characters reacting to something that has happened to them, so that the readers can discover how they feel and behave in those circumstances.

For example, the hero who was taking karate lessons loses a small combat and gets depressed, as he is convinced that he has nothing to do against his antagonist.

Sometimes, reaction scenes end with a little twist that pushes the characters to take action again.

As we've stated above, reaction scenes slow down the plot and offer a little break to the readers and to the story’s characters, but we shouldn’t use them too much or the plot will be boring. As with almost everything in life, there’s virtue in moderation.


Setup Scenes

This type of scene is the least frequent. It usually presents a problem unrelated to the main plot (the story doesn’t move forward) or provides the readers with details about the setting. Thus, it’s not relevant to the plot (at least apparently), but it helps the readers to understand the characters and their universe.

Setup scenes should be used more sparingly than reaction scenes, as they completely stop the plot. They can sometimes be an interesting resource, but think whether you really need to resort to them. If the answer is negative, you can always use action and reaction scenes to add details about the characters and the setting.

So, when you revise the structure of your novel, analyze it scene by scene and look for a good balance between action, reaction and setup scenes.

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