Scene/Sequence Pacing Mechanism

Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files and other works, has some great advice on writing. Key to his writing is the action/response or punch/counter-punch. You use this in story pacing as well. Each scene has a specific structural elements such as Point of View, Character Goal, and Setback. Each Scene is followed by a Sequel which describes the characters reaction to a scene. Key to the sequel is the decision the character makes which leads to another scene. Action/Response/Action/ and so on.

I decided to give the method a try. I used Scrivener’s cork board and broke my current WIP into pieces. It looked something like this when I was finished.

I used the Document Notes window to fill out the template and set a custom status to either Scene or Sequel for easy visual representation. This method pointed out some obvious structural flaws in the story. Using Scrivener I was able add Sequels as needed and organize the whole thing for better pacing. This tool is awesome!

You can read more about this … st-attempt

To learn more about Mr. Butcher’s advice on writing, see

Happy Scrivening,

For forum readers not yet familiar with these ideas, I gather that the canonical references for the scene structure ideas that Butcher was sketching are the work of Dwight Swain and Jack Bickham. Some might want to check them out for further insight.

Randy Ingermanson has a nice write-up of these ideas with some worked out examples. Well worth reading:


P.S. I once analysed a chapter from an old Nancy Drew novel (“Left to Starve” in Nancy Drew #1, The Secret of the Old Clock). It was shocking how well it could be seen to fit the pattern of Swain’s scene analysis. One solid MRU after another. Go figure!

Right on! I didn’t know of this techniques and after reading through the mentioned sites I had to buy the book. Helping me so much. Thanks!

Back in the late 80’s or early 90’s Mr. Bickham had a short booklet advertized in Writer’s Digest called “The Writer’s Digest Short Story Blueprint” in which he laid out his index card system using scene/sequel cards for the plot.

Interesting as I’m just working through K M Weiland’s book Structuring Your Novel and I’m at the Scene-Sequel section.

Looks like I need to go back and rework the whole outline! At least I’ve got Scrivener to make it easy :laughing:


Has any one used Scrivener-iOS on the iPad or iPad Pro to do what rkathey shows in her original post on this thread?

If so, how did it work out for you?

Any tips?

Thanks in advance,