Setting the Scene: Purpose

For the last number of weeks I’ve been discussing different ways to establish solid scenes. The last thing we want is for our readers to be wandering aimlessly through our story trying to figure out where they are. In fact that’s one way to lose readers fast.

So in conclusion, setting scenes effectively is crucial.  We want to ensure that our readers are aware of whose point of view they’re in, location, and that we give them visceral responses by using at least some of the five senses. 

However, there is one area we haven’t fully explored--purpose. If your book is going to flow properly, making every word count, then each scene will need to be there. Every one will have a reason for inclusion, otherwise, it will slow down the pacing and our readers will skim.

How do we define purpose when it comes to scenes? Ask yourself if the passage is required for character development or to advance the plot. If your answer is no to both, or you’re hesitant to answer, it quite likely can be cut and not even missed. However, if you’re not certain maybe it needs to be re-written to clarify and fulfill its intention.

You will find that setting scenes is something that you will improve in doing the more you write, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t seem that things are where you would like them. That’s a benefit of it being your work, you can modify it how you see fit and as often as necessary until you’re blessed with the final product.

For easy reference here are the links to the articles:


  1. I really liked Donald Maass' point about scenes with purpose from his book "The Fire in Fiction." He suggested that a scene needs both an outer turning point and an inner one--something happens and the main character changes as a result of it. That helped me a lot with defining purpose in my scenes. Thanks for this post, Carolyn! :)

  2. Terrific book Denise. Thank you for pointing these aspects out.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to make a comment.

Popular posts from this blog

A Promotional Tool that Makes Sense

Make the time to Play #AuthorTip

12 Things You Need to Know for Self-Publishing Success