There are a few ways to think about scene types. One is to think in terms of their significance to the story. This can refer to their role in the story arc or to their core story function or description such as protagonist meets love interest.
Another way is to think about scenes in terms of the mood they convey. This second way of thinking about scene types and functions can be helpful when fleshing out your novel beyond those few crucial storytelling elements that make up the story arc.
These are scenes that are fast paced and (obviously) have action. Action doesn’t have to mean hand to hand combat or shoot outs and explosions. It simply means physical movement must occur, and a sense of being in the moment is conveyed.
Because things happen quickly in an action scene, the protagonist often has to make snap decisions which may have unforeseen consequences.
These scenes are slower and more reflective as the protagonist grapples or comes to terms with whatever came before. They tend to be made up of more internal monologue than any other type of scene.
Contemplative scenes allow the reader a break from high intensity emotions or action while the protagonist focuses their attention inwards.
These scenes are exactly how they sound: dramatic. They deal with the protagonist’s emotional state of being often focusing on relationships. The aim of a dramatic scene is to push the protagonist to make a decision or change in some way.
A well written dramatic scene will make the reader feel as much as the protagonist does.
Suspense scenes create a sense of uncertainty and anxiety. They place the protagonist in jeopardy, have high stakes, and pressure the protagonist to act or change.
Well written suspense scenes rely on pacing. Slowing down the pace to draw out the tension provides more time for the reader to become anxious about what will happen next.
There is no hierarchy to these scene types. One isn’t better than the other. They are all valuable and should be used as needed depending on what sort of story you are telling. It is worth noting that too many of any one scene type in a row can become exhausting for the reader. So mix them up and get creative!
Did I miss any types of mood scenes? Let me know in the comments.