Where do you section off a scene?

Let’s say you have a story. The first part is narrative summary, and the second part is an immediate scene. Is that two scenes or one? In other words, do you add the “#” symbol in between the summary and the immediate scene?

I’ll give a quick example:

Jimmy was a poor boy. He ate out of the trash can almost every morning for breakfast, and for lunch he was lucky to fry up a dead pigeon, which he’d usually find in a park, in an iron skillet over a dumpster fire.

His parents were both dead, taken out in a plane crash. After the incident, Jimmy was sent to a foster home but ran away two years ago. Now, Jimmy didn’t have a home. The streets of LA were his home; the side walk and the passing cars looked after him now. . . .

(immediate scene)
One day, Jimmy was in the park, looking for a pigeon, and saw something shiny in the distance, buried beneath a bed of fallen leaves. He walked over to it and picked it up. It was a diamond ring. The ring shone brightly and reflected the sunlight seeping through the treetops. Jimmy’s eyes grew big, and he quickly stuffed the ring into his torn, brown trousers and looked around to see if anyone had noticed. . . .

Is this one scene or two? By the way, this story was written for the sake of brevity, and usually both sections would be much longer.

Story-wise, this is one scene, with exposition/backstory leading up to the dramatic present. That said, the beauty of Scrivener is that you can organize your project however you want. If you want it all to be one big scene, you can do that with a single document containing all of the text. If you want each individual sentence to be its own “scene,” you can do that too with multiple documents, each containing one of those sentences. It all depends on where you want to split them.

I would probably leave this as a single scene narratively, meaning that you wouldn’t separate the two parts with a # or scene break. Breaks are typically for when you’re separating two chunks of dramatic present, or when you want to break from the dramatic present to a deep flashback (or vice versa). If you want to separate them, that would probably work, but the way that you’ve structured these two segments doesn’t require it. The first leads naturally into the second, without a needed break between the two.

Hope that helps. I’m sure others might have different ideas on the matter.

Dwight V. Swain in his book Techniques of the Selling Writer (available from your local Amazon) is very good at explaining what a scene is, what its ingredients should ideally be and how you should write it. The book is over fifty years old now, and its language and attitudes are somewhat “antique”. But you don’t have to follow Swain’s rules slavishly all the time to see that what he says makes a lot of sense.