Mike Klaassen

Prototype Scene

 by Mike Klaassen

           The following prototype builds on information presented in Techniques of a Selling Writer  (1965), by Dwight V. Swain (1915-1992) and Scene & Structure (1993), by Jack M. Bickham (1930-1997).  A prototype is an ideal, a fully developed model. This is how a prototype scene works.


  • The scene setup establishes setting, including time, especially in relation to the last scene or sequel. The setup also establishes the point of view, which in many cases is that of the scene’s main character, and the character's situation, his predicament.  The scene setup, through a combination of situation and setting, establishes a scene crucible, confining circumstances that limit the choices available to the character to deal with his predicament (so the character can't easily walk away from the situation).
  • The character has a goal.
  • Failure to achieve the goal would have undesirable consequences, i.e., stakes.
  • A goal with stakes creates character motivation.
  • The character makes an attempt to achieve his goal.
  •  Resistance complicates the character’s attempt.
  • This creates conflict, which results in frustration for the character.
  • Conflict also creates uncertainty as to whether the character will achieve his goal and tension in the mind of the reader.
  • Since the character is properly motivated and the stakes are adequate, he attempts to overcome resistance more than once.
  • Uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict draws out over time, creating suspense for the reader.
  • The character tries yet again (his third attempt) to overcome the obstacle.
  • Since the character is confined to the situation somehow by the crucible, and since he has narrowing options and no outlet, pressure rises to a breaking point at the scene climax.
  • The outcome of the scene climax is the resolution, which may be either success or failure, or some variation of either.  At the end of the resolution, the scene is over.  

Copyright 2013

Michael John Klaassen