Every scene furthers the plot.

Some writers confuse “you must further the plot with every scene” with “heavy plot handling must happen constantly.” (Which is a shame, because the latter is not only incorrect, but can make your character’s interactions stiff and boring.)

  • It’s okay to let your characters joke.
  • It’s okay if they get off track of the plot relevant conversation.
  • It’s okay if not every scene is a big plot reveal.
  • It’s okay to just have fun sometimes.

What is the idea behind “every scene furthers the plot” then? Why is it actually important?

“Every scene furthers the plot” can be better described as “every scene reminds the reader why this story is important and either provides a plot relevant point of tension or makes them anticipate a plot relevant tension to come.”

Most readers will read through anything as long as they anticipate something to come. If you don’t give them anything to anticipate (and remind them they’ll reach that thing if they keep reading) then they have very little preventing them from putting the story down at the end of that scene.

The last thing we need to remember here is that character development should be highly integrated with your plot, and constantly effecting and being effected by your plot, until the point where they are nearly synonymous terms. As such, your plot integrated character development is often enough ‘plot’ to tide over a few otherwise ‘plotless’ scenes.

Support Bryn’s ability to provide writing advice by reading their debut novel, a lighthearted fantasy about a bloodthirsty siren fighting to return home while avoiding the lure of a suspiciously friendly and eccentric pirate captain!

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